Inept Politicians in The Sandpit of Parliament
This past week of events highlighted by the very vocal and visual reaction of students (COBUS) at The College of The Bahamas has shown the deplorable state of our country and the ineptitude of our politicians to come out with a definitive strategy to improve the status of Bahamians, especially that of the youth.
COBUS has demonstrated its dissatisfaction with the status quo and is making a demand for improved opportunities in education while lamenting the poor state of finances of the average Bahamian in our society. It is essential that the young must be able to participate in development and growth towards a mature society.
This has been supported by previous statements in the press by Olivia Saunders, calling for full university status for the college; Dame Ivy Dumont, exposing the exploitation of a dependent consumer on the poor service offered by our essential utilities; and Arinthia Komolafe in her call for increased opportunities for the ordinary Bahamian to actively participate in the country’s growth and development.
Forty-five years after majority rule, Bahamians are still dependent on a poor public educational system that equips school leavers to employment in the most basic subservience to a foreign-led investment strategy where the political elite make arbitrary decisions that do not foster genuine homegrown ideas that benefit the welfare of Bahamians. The leadership demonstrated by business and religious institutions only highlights this trend. The result is a populace totally dependent and unable to rise to a level of self-determination necessary for the mature development of our society.
On the surface, our high GDP indicates a wealthy country that benefits its people. In fact the reality presents a different picture where the wealth is transferred laterally across the top professional levels of medical, financial and law practitioners with very little filtering down to the mass of the population. The present recession has shown the inability of the ordinary Bahamian to survive without the vagaries of reliance on foreign investment. As a result, many have lost their whole investment and future, with no chance of restitution.
Real opportunities for the youth to fully develop into mature and independent individuals do not exist – this being expressed by the increasing number of our youth who seek employment abroad rather than invest their skills in a static and manipulated economy that shows no real growth and development.
Many of those who do remain invest their energies in the drug and gang culture where they are afforded some sort of fleeting survival. The recent proposal for the formation of the Small and Medium Size Enterprise Agency (SMEDA), in my opinion, is a clever way of renaming a failed Bahamas Development Bank that gives no real thought to new strategies for entrepreneurial encouragement and the development of lower turnover businesses into successful ventures.
Education is the key to instituting a qualified and capable workforce that has the ability to participate and contribute to a healthy community where wealth is so much more than the accumulation of material and consumer products. The recent proposals by the government to cut into the education budget for our young people will only magnify the inability of the young to accede to a much better quality of life, with no chance of becoming independent, free thinking individuals, who can contribute to a healthy society.
It is high time that the political class stops playing games in “the sandpit of Parliament” and as a mature leadership direct their energies toward a realistic national development program where every member of society is able to contribute and to so also benefit.
Wasteful and frivolous expenditure from the public purse must stop, and investment in essential services must be worked out so that the country as a whole can grow and mature into a strong and stable nation.
I fully support the demands of our youth and call on the government, with all parties and partisans, to reexamine its strategies and come up with a long-term plan that will benefit all Bahamians.
As Komolafe so ably postulated: “The youth have come looking for The Bahamas.”
By: JF Hedden