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Breaking News:

Much ado about nothing


Published: Aug 09, 2017

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Dear Editor,

 

A firestorm appears to have been unleashed against me by elements within the ruling Free National Movement (FNM), generally, and by forces within the Ministry of Tourism, in particular. It is absolutely amazing to see the juvenile and gut reactions by our politicians, of all stripes, when subjected to public criticism or what they perceive to be an 'assault' on their dignity and self worth! The way we go about implementing public administration and initiatives, coupled with the integral and unbiased conceptualization of public law, are froth with flaws, failures and outright abuse of the collective powers of the state. If I have your leave, please allow me to lay out my case for this posture.

It is commonly accepted, now that the dust of the elections of May 10 is settled, that the defunct Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) jacked up The Bahamas, our economy, our infrastructure and, more importantly, our very people, big time. To this very day, no one in the rump leadership, if that is what it is, has seen fit to offer a properly crafted apology to the wonderful people of our nation. Chester Cooper (PLP – Exuma) came the closest to even fixing his mouth to utter such a much desired and needed apology. What happened to him as a result? His colleagues bluntly told him, in so many words, to shut his juicy lips and to sit small in a corner of the small room until called by the big boy!

The Christie-led maladministration, for that is what it clearly was from 2012 straight into 2017, had no public policy initiatives, did not know what public administration is and couldn’t care less, or so it seemed, about the concept of public law. That crew was, literally, the worst of the worst in terms of governance, ever, in The Bahamas. When it came down to the national economy, Christie and crew, placed all of our eggs, along with the chicken itself, into the voluminous, but fake Louis Vuitton bag that the Chinese love to tote around, globally speaking. Baha Mar and The Pointe are two cases in point. Apart from the ongoing work at Albany and the ever-ongoing expansion at Atlantis, very little construction took place in its entire five years.

Yes, here and there, the long naked former prime minister, who acted as Emperor, announced assorted developments, especially in the Family Islands, with great fanfare. But not a single one of them, as far as I am aware, ever panned out. The photo ops were always sought after by the former PM and most of his ministers. In the five-year period referenced above, the national economy grew by less than one percent annually. The unemployment figures, when they were available for release, indicate a general level exceeding 15 percent on New Providence; only God knows the true extent on the Family Islands, especially Grand Bahama. The PLP and Christie never espoused an economic and financial plan to grow the morbid economy, not once. All of the hopes of the defunct PLP and its 'naked' Emperor were placed, as I said before, in the Chinese bag.

The FNM and our prime minister must jumpstart the economy immediately. Yes, we appreciate that there will be some necessary adjustments within the civil service proper and within numerous governmental agencies, but not at the expense of ordinary Bahamians without the appropriate humanitarian and legal expectations. I had to lambaste the minister of tourism the other day for approving the termination of 11 employees over in Freeport. His public and private reactions were brutal and swift, in my view, but at least I got his undivided attention! He used to respond to all of my telephone calls and emails or texts. After the call-out, he's admitted to me that he's gone deep under ground when it now relates to me!

The infrastructure here on New Providence and the downtown environments of Nassau and Freeport should be addressed right away. The old buildings at Victoria Gardens could and should be demolished, and that area should be cleared away for the construction of a well-designed Parliament building. A transparent bidding process must be undertaken to ensure value for money. The disgraceful and dangerous Post Office building at East Hill Street should either be demolished and replaced with a modern dive or six-story complex to house a new Post Office and provide a new Supreme Court Complex, along with space to house a few essential ministries.

There are several other government buildings here on New Providence which need urgent attention and rehabilitation. The bazar in Freeport must be demolished and an entirely new structure built. On some of the Family Islands, we have other buildings and schools, along with road construction, that could be mobilized and commenced almost immediately. When it comes to public administration this incarnation of the FNM must do a better job at managing the nation and her economy. Administrative law, while sounding magical, is simple. It is the law that governs the actions by administrative/governmental agencies and ministries – no more, no less.

We now know that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted, lost or, allegedly, stolen by individuals who had access by reason of position or employment. Obviously, the public administration controls that should be or should have been in place were not adhered to or enforced. Is it possible that corruption and malfeasance are entrenched in public administration (the civil service and government)? I personally think so.

Public law is yet another vexing issue which the PM will have to contend with. This particular category of law is also quite simple. It is the law of the land (civil and criminal), its interpretation, implementation and, of course, enforcement. Under this last term in office by the PLP, public law, of all sorts, was observed more in the breach than the actual observance. A case in point: A dormitory over at BAMSI in Andros burned straight down to the ground. At that point, it was discovered that the contractor, one Audley Hanna, a known supporter of the defunct PLP, was able to successfully bid for the contract to build that dormitory.

Public and administrative law demand that such contracts are insured. This was the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Works to sign off on. There was no insurance. My friend, Philip Brave Davis (PLP–Cat Island), should have fallen on his political sword. What did he and the PLP do, however? Absolutely nothing, except offer stupid positions. Someone needs to be investigated, charged and prosecuted, if necessary. Administrative and public law demand no less.

Last week we witnessed the abject spectacle of a former senior Cabinet minister hobbling into court to face serious charges, while escorted by heavily armed police officers in plain clothes and SWAT uniforms. I am not concerned with the potential evidence, or even if he is guilty or innocent. I am concerned that such an individual, without antecedents, could have been processed by the police in such a humiliating and totally unnecessary manner. I cry shame on all of them, including the acting commissioner of police, Anthony Ferguson.

Lastly, Minnis and crew must understand that while the people expect them to pursue alleged acts of breaches of administrative and public law, there must also be a parallel pursuit to rebuild the national economy and generate additional sources of revenue, without the addition of more taxes. This will be difficult for him because he has a top-heavy Cabinet and parliamentary group. All of them are now at the public trough, demanding room to bend down and drink or hog something up. Minnis will find himself between a rock and a hard place.

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

 

– Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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