Prime Minister Perry Christie has thus far failed to show strong leadership and no amount of skirting around the core issues at hand will change that fact, according to former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Minister A. Loftus Roker, who is firing back at Christie’s confusing and shallow response to Roker’s criticism of his decision to ignore the results of last year’s gambling referendum.
Asked recently to respond to Roker’s charge that he should resign for wasting more than $1 million of the people’s money on a useless referendum, Christie suggested there is some long-standing and deep-rooted dislike between him and the former minister.
“Loftus Roker knows exactly what I think, and at the right time I will tell him the same way he told me,” the prime minister said.
Now, Roker is challenging Christie to explain. He also said that his original comments were not a personal attack on the prime minister, but the views of a nationalist concerned about the direction the country is headed under Christie’s weak and unfocused leadership.
“I am saying that his response to me seems to be a mystery, because he wants to give the public the view that the reason why I said what I said was because of some outstanding issue between us,” Roker told National Review in his latest interview.
“I have no outstanding issue with Mr. Christie. I spoke strictly about Mr. Christie as prime minister of my country, and I am saying his action, not only with regard to the gaming issue, there is a whole series of issues that I believe Mr. Christie failed to show leadership, and that is why we can’t get anywhere.
“He just keeps going backward and forward. One minute he says he’s going in this direction, then he says he’s listening to the people and he’s going in another direction. Leaders must lead.
“That doesn’t mean I must agree with what you do, but you must lead, and I would like to know what Mr. Christie is talking about me because I would like to say some things as well, but I want to hear what it is he says I know that he knows about me.”
National Review has no idea what Christie meant, but it seems he is suggesting that he will address Roker’s comments in a more detailed way at some point in the future.
We agree with Roker that the prime minister left an impression that there are a few secret matters between Roker and him that may have fuelled Roker’s initial comments to us.
But we make two points here: One is that Roker spoke to National Review only after we called him to ask his views on the implications of the prime minister ignoring the will of the people.
The other point is, inferences that Roker’s criticisms were influenced by some past issue do not change the crux of his contention.
That is, engaging the electorate, pledging to abide by the results of their votes, then turning away from those results as if the referendum never happened, is bad governance.
We agree, no amount of obfuscation can change that.
History has already recorded Roker, now 78, as an honest man not afraid to speak up for what he feels is right.
“You don’t have to agree with me, but you understand where I am. From that time, I criticized Sir Lynden Pindling, who politically did more for me than any other politician in The Bahamas. I wasn’t afraid to criticize him publically.
“I did not want it to be said that I saw what was happening, sat by and said nothing. If you went back, 1974, I was a minister of health, and I said at a PLP convention in the Balmoral Beach Hotel that corruption is rocking, not the government, the organization, the PLP to its very foundation, and I invited the prime minister to lead the way in cleaning it up, and I said to him in the convention that there were those of us who were prepared to help him to clean up the corruption in the country.”
Roker told National Review that it is unfortunate that some people continue to put politics above country. These are people who are more concerned about their image than doing what is right, he told us.
“We’re too political,” Roker said. “Instead of us worrying about the country, we’re worrying about how this thing looks; we say things that sound good politically, and that is our problem. The country cannot advance [that way].”