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Since the general election in 2012, many people have been waiting for the much anticipated Christie renaissance. We’re all still waiting.
What’s more, many of the Christie administration’s Cabinet ministers appear to be clueless, projecting a mundane-bird-in-a-gilded cage outlook and giving off an air of intolerance because in their minds they have arrived, their playground dreams have been realised and they have been deemed Cabinet ministers.
The governing Progressive Liberal Party party has become too arrogant, with insincerity and pomposity as certain ministers cavalierly conduct themselves as kings and queens of their own little fiefdoms. That said, there have been occasional triumphs here and there.
Generally, Bahamians have become jaded with our political system. It is widely felt that younger members of the government were political accessories, dangled before an electorate desperate for change. Bahamians have begun to lose faith in their political leaders and there are many wishing that there was a panic button they could hit; but, hey, there’s not even a recall system in place.
During the last general election campaign, in what was perhaps a fit of magical thinking, the now governing party released the Charter for Governance, which has been proven – over the last three years – to be a populist gimmick and a toothless plan. With a geyser of special interest money, the governing party rode the victory train all the way to Parliament.
Indeed, as the 2017 general election draws nigh, the Christie administration is fighting the political headwinds and, sadly, wobbling in a zero gravity vacuum.
One person who wrote to me went as far saying that we live in “the land of no consequences”, referring to the activities of the political elite.
Yes, the average Bahamian can be daily heard on the radio talk shows, writing letters to the newspapers or seen at local pubs and other venues venting their frustrations and asking about the promise of efficient governance, about the implementation and delivery of promised programmes. We need vision and verve to combat the problems facing our country.
Over the past three years, we have heard any number of accusations of corruption, irregular expenditure, smug doublespeak on important national issues and what seems to be a lack of transparency and a failure to disclose details about any number of happenings to the public, with MPs even failing to disclose – though they are legally obliged to do so. We have all heard the allegations of wheelin’ and dealin’, of crony capitalism, of blatant nepotism, maladministration and meddling in the day-to-day work of civil servants and, what’s more, there appears to be no culture of accountability, so much so that even the questions of Opposition MPs go unanswered.
Colour me exasperated!
In my interviews with average everyday Bahamians and political observers, I have discovered that many Bahamians view certain members of the Cabinet as arrogant and immature, resent them because of their patronising nonsense, have categorised one or two as nincompoops, see one or two others as fatuous numbskulls and view a handful of them as petty and petulant egomaniacs. For some observers, there are some ministers who have earned the titles of “ducker in chief”, “glibber in chief” and, yes, a few are seen as seeming dumber than a bag of hammers.
I am worried when I hear fellow Bahamians talk about our looming slide into a kleptocracy, especially when allegations of unethical behaviour go unanswered and when no one is arrested or convicted. Whilst the police seem afraid to arrest Bahamian politicians, in the US everyone from senators to judges to mayors and high level public servants have been arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison. The Opposition itself must also do a better job at exposing corruption and incompetence and that is why I shall also grade the shadow ministers as well.
Sadly, there are many Bahamians who rightly fear repression, intimidation and victimisation by certain members of the current government. They have become known for their muzzling tactics, often targeting one financially/job.
Today and over the coming weeks, I’m grading the Christie Cabinet and no doubt this will earn the ire of some and will leave others foaming at the mouth, especially those enraptured in their own cocoons of self-adulation. I am re-introducing my annual report card. Yes, there are one-star, bottom-tier ministers who have mismanaged sky-high expectations of the Bahamian people and contributed to the sea of mediocrity within the Cabinet. Whilst there are weaklings and acutely despondent, chronic underachievers in the executorial assemblage, there are first-rate go-getters and hard workers who have given praiseworthy service.
The greatest threat however is the probability that those who are being graded will dismiss the comments as not being representative of public opinion or an objective assessment of their performance. They do so at their peril. In completing this assessment, I have spoken to PLPs, DNAs, FNMs and independents. The rubric for these grades complements this report card.
By ADRIAN GIBSON