What is next?

Dear Editor,

The question that is baffling every Bahamian and resident in our wonderful nation is: ‘What is next?’

Obviously, no one in his/her right mind has a clue as to the thinking process of the prime minister, much less that of the individual Cabinet ministers and parliamentarians.

The coronavirus has decimated the economy and the societal and mental dislocation caused by the effects of the same will wreak even more misery and pain on the average Bahamian.

There is very little that the PM and his team are doing now that they are able to do any differently. They are playing ‘follow the leader’ insofar as they seem to be copy-catting whatever is being done by the major western nations like the USA and Great Britain. Some of the measures adopted have included social distancing and daily curfews and weekend mandatory lockdowns.

Business houses and self employed persons have been obliged to close their respective sources of income down. As a direct result, tens of thousands of Bahamians are now without a guaranteed paycheck.

The PM, God bless his soul, has assumed near dictatorial powers in that he being the ‘competent authority’ is up in everybody’s business in that he, acting almost alone, has abrogated powers to severely restrict our freedom of assembly and freedom of movement.

Had I been at the bar as a licensed attorney, I would have long ago filed a motion for a judicial review of the Emergency Powers Act and all of the regulations made thereunder to date. It is almost a certainty that there is a handful of practitioners who may wish to sue but they lack the fortitude, in most cases, to file proceedings challenging the PM and his absolute powers.

Ordinary Bahamians who don’t already have any savings or sources of income are being arrested; charged and hauled before the courts for the slightest infractions of the Emergency Powers Act, even if they are able to demonstrate that they were unaware of some of the stringent requirements of the law.

Once before the courts, these poor and black Bahamians, who form the bulk of those charged, are levied heavy fines that the powers that be would or should know that they are unable to afford.

If they are unable to pay the fine or have payment in full deferred, the unlucky ones are sent straight to prison. Only God knows what they may contract while a guest at that five star hotel. The convicted person also receives a criminal record and all that that entails. Where is the compassion and heart, PM?

Basically, after no big tick in reported positive cases of COVID-19, Bahamians are ready to get back to work and gradually reopen the economy.

Yes, there are some Bahamians and others who are able to work the NIB system and claim unnecessary benefits and cash payments. By and large, however, average Bahamians would prefer to get out of the confines of their homes and work for their income. These seemingly endless curfews and lockdowns are literally sending Bahamians into states of severe depression and financial ruination.

Dr. Minnis wanted to become prime minister so badly that he took on all political challengers within the FNM and outside. Now that he is PM, with absolute and draconian powers, the ball is in his court. He appointed himself minister of health after Dr. Duane Sands resigned. He claims also to have an intimate insight into all other ministries!!

This man is a tireless machine, it would appear. One thing is clear, however, and that is that if a poll were to be taken today, the PM may well receive an ‘F’ for his efforts so far, even if a few lives have been saved at the expense of the absolute ruination of the majority of Bahamians.

That quest is: ‘What is next?’ Only Dr. Minnis appears to know.

God help us all. To God then, in all things, be the glory.

Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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