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Politics can be a fickle business.
Governing parties can find themselves in opposition overnight, their once towering empires reduced to little more than rubble when the will of the electorate is expressed.
The thrashing the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) gave the Free National Movement (FNM) in the general election one week ago is a clear cut example of how unpredictable the political climate can be.
Now, with only nine seats in Parliament to the PLP's 29, the FNM must again learn how to function in opposition and live with the reality that its message failed to resonate with the majority of voters.
And it must also determine why.
The most obvious answer: Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
The former prime minister and FNM leader, bet his fate -- and pretty much the fate of his entire party -- on the notion that the general election was all about his leadership versus now Prime Minister and PLP Leader Perry Christie's.
The FNM let him, and paid dearly for it.
What the election was really about
At rally after rally, event after event, functions, on the floor of Parliament, and at just about every other opportunity he got, Ingraham lambasted Christie's leadership.
He called Christie weak and indecisive. He dredged up PLP scandals of the past. He dragged a prominent member of the clergy and Dame Marguerite Pindling, the widow of Sir Lynden Pindling, into the mudslinging between himself and the PLP.
He talked incessantly about the 'cookie jar' and how the back-room dealers in the PLP were salivating to regain access to it.
But perhaps Ingraham did not realize that he was most likely preaching to the choir.
This election was not about Perry Christie and the past transgressions of the PLP.
This election was about overall joblessness; an unemployment rate of over 30 percent among young people; an underperforming economy; an alarming rate of crime and four murder records in five years, just to name a few.
Ingraham couldn't seem to find the right message to convey the many things his administration had done to ease economic hardship, combat crime and fix the nearly broken justice system.
And a finely-tuned PLP media machine excoriating him on a daily basis certainly didn't help.
While bidding his constituents in North Abaco farewell over the weekend, Ingraham acknowledged that the party's message was rejected by the majority of voters.
But why that message fell flat is still unclear.
Many younger voters, who he claimed saw him as the establishment, perhaps could not get through his sometimes brash attitude and in-your-face style that accompanied the message.
And many of them were probably too young to have paid much attention to Christie's last term in office, or simply did not care when faced with the prospect of having no prospects.
They perhaps only saw a PLP that said it believed in them and stacked it up against an FNM that said they should believe in Ingraham.
The PLP and FNM also delivered their messages differently.
Perry Christie and his team shrewdly allowed candidates to deliver many of the promises in the party's platform. Christie spent most of his time attacking Ingraham in speeches that varied little since the beginning of the year.
But Ingraham saved the big announcements for himself.
In another shrewd move, the PLP, as much as it could, kept Perry Christie away from reporters, which is very easy to do without him having the burden of governing.
This made the possibility of gaffes much more unlikely, though Christie became much more accessible as the campaign wound down.
Ingraham took all comers and gave the opposition fodder to further paint him as a 'tyrant' or a 'dictator'.
Mistakes along the campaign trail
Ingraham and the FNM also erred critically by waiting so long to introduce so many new candidates to the country.
Where some new PLP candidates had been in their respective communities for up to two years, Ingraham only really gave his people a few months to campaign.
Then he went on his now famous walkabouts in Bains Town and Grants Town, Englerston and Centreville.
He also went into different areas, but might have been better served by walking about in the southern New Providence constituencies, where margins were much closer.
Road works and the BTC sale
The New Providence Road Improvement Project may just have cost Hubert Ingraham his job. That project, which he personally described as 'torturous', coupled with the sale of the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company to Cable and Wireless Communications, infuriated many people.
The road project, which dragged on and on, caused businesses to close and led to the loss of employment for many roadside vendors.
Add to that the frustration many New Providence residents had from waiting in traffic and figuring out alternate routes of travel on an almost daily basis, and many voters may have just made up their minds a long time ago that the FNM would not get their vote.
What seems strange is the unapologetic manner in which the government moved forward as it became clear that the project, though necessary, was very unpopular.
Stranger still, was the deadpan way in which the prime minister told the country that the mammoth project was $77 million over budget.
The privatization of BTC was also very interesting to watch unfold.
Not only did the opposition and every union in the country clearly state their disapproval, but hundreds of people marched on Parliament numerous times to protest it.
Yet, rather than slow the process down and allow more people time to process the information, Ingraham rammed it through Parliament and ignored the outcry.
What about the DNA?
Whether the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) spoiled the election for the FNM is still unknown and will require further study.
But what is clear is that the DNA had an impact at the polls, garnering around eight percent of the total vote, compared to 42 percent for the FNM and over 48 percent for the PLP.
As pointed out in The Nassau Guardian last week, had the votes cast for the DNA gone to the FNM in at least a dozen constituencies, Hubert Ingraham would once again be prime minister.
Now, Ingraham will retire and Killarney MP Dr. Hubert Minnis will lead the FNM in Parliament. The party will have a convention to solidify its leadership team later this month and go about the business of opposing.
Redemption is possible -- just look at the PLP.
That party, voted out in 2007 after a single term many describe as 'squandered', found its way back to power by focusing less on what the Ingraham administration was doing, and more on getting its own house in order.
The FNM is still a very popular party, performing well in the popular vote, despite the disproportionate number of seats in the House of Assembly.
Do not waste time sulking and bickering internally like the PLP did following its last defeat at the polls.
The FNM must move quickly to fortify its leadership team, push new blood to the forefront, establish a reliable and vocal shadow Cabinet and hold the PLP accountable at every turn.
Stay in the communities. Do not hide within your walls. Ask the people who voted against you, what you could have done better and seek to implement that.
The FNM has a chance to remake itself now that the shadow of Ingraham no longer looms over it. The next few years can be an era of possibility or can be lost languishing in confusion.
What now for Ingraham
As Ingraham memorably commented at a press conference not too long after he was last returned as prime minister, "I am distinct. I am not like others".
Truer words may never have been spoken.
Love him or hate him, Ingraham has left an indelible mark on Bahamian politics and will never be forgotten.
No matter how the PLP might try to obscure it, his legacy, like that of Sir Lynden's, will remain strong.
Ingraham and his cohorts brought about the most significant infrastructure upgrades in the country's history. He shepherded projects that changed the economy. And some of those will continue to bear fruit for the foreseeable future.
He built a new straw market, a new stadium, and a new port.
He oversaw significant phases of the redevelopment of Lynden Pindling International Airport, and other airports in the country.
He dredged Nassau Harbour, restored Goodman's Bay, Montagu Beach and Saunder's Beach.
He established a minimum wage and unemployment insurance.
He freed the airwaves and in so doing created a new media industry.
He built new courts and upgraded Parliament.
He launched the construction of the critical care wing at Princess Margaret Hospital.
He built many schools and clinics.
He upgraded the water system in New Providence and many other islands.
He did those things and much more.
The PLP has said it will consider appointing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate many matters, which could mean that we have not seen the last of Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
But money is scarce and the clock is ticking for the Christie administration, which promised results in a very short time.
In the meantime, Ingraham said he will return to his law practice and go 'fishnin' as often as he can.
Go right ahead 'Papa'. You earned it.
Religious leaders hope new government will continue to do what's best for the nation and make good decisions for the good of the people in the years to come
The rigmarole that comes with election season is over and religious leaders say with the downfall of one government and the rise of another government, much is to be expected -- particularly in these trying times when unemployment is high, crime is skyrocketing and the country is still going through an economic depression. Religious leaders say it is imperative that the new government be "on the ball" to uphold a sense of hope, peace and freedom the country desperately needs.
Now that all is said and done, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government should be seeking to bring back a spirit of unity and healing in the nation according to Bishop John N. Humes, national overseer of the Church of God in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is his hope that the new leaders of the nation will recognize how much the people are hurting in the basic facets of their lives and make it their objective to bring relief in any way they can.
"The election season has been an intensive campaign and we have seen so much passion from politicians and voters alike. Some people may be rejoicing and others may be in mourning at this juncture, but we should all be happy that the season has gone with relative peace," said Bishop Humes. "No matter your preference, we all need to now join together again as a people and truly respect one another. There is no more time for red, green or yellow. Many people are hurting and they need a government that cares. So at the end of the day, it's about the nation and ensuring that whatever comes to pass is for the best of the people and future generations."
If nothing else transfers over from the election season, the Pentecostal minister said he hopes that the strong passion the people expressed for their political parties of choice would continue to overflow into other aspects of their daily lives.
"If more people were as passionate about God and keeping His word, the nation would be a much better place," said Bishop Humes. He added that the same devotion and dedication politicians gave to get into power, he hoped they would continue to wield that passion in their service to their people and to God during their term in office.
"While my church and I wish to commend the prime minister (Perry Christie), and we pray that he does well, we want to encourage him and other ministers to remember to also seek God's face and blessings in these times," he said.
Bishop Humes said running a country is no easy feat and it is only through the grace of God that things come together. He said leaders need to always seek God's guidance and aim to be in His favor -- especially in difficult times.
Bishop Laish Boyd
Bishop Laish Boyd, head of the Anglican Diocese in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos said that the main aim of any new government should be to maintain the peace and harmony of the nation and continue to invest in things that will truly benefit the people.
"We have a wonderful country and we should be a proud people to know that in our nation we can conduct major events like elections without violence and bloodshed. We are the envy of many regions of the world in this regard. This is something to not take for granted. With that in mind, the incoming leadership has tremendous responsibility and a lot they must uphold. This is why being in this position should not be taken lightly."
The Anglican Bishop said it is important for leaders and voters alike to forget political parties and be able to work together for the good of the people. He said the new government should try to remember that they are standing on the shoulders of previous administrations and are there to build on the foundation already laid. And that now is the time to really think about what they hope to accomplish and how it fits in with what the people need.
"There is no particular thing I would want to address that the government should deal with but I would say that they need to be willing to face the challenges they will meet now and deal with new ones effectively as they come," he said. "Bahamian people should also aim to be supportive of the new government despite how they feel if their choice lies with another party. The nation has come to a consensus about whom they want in power and the people have spoken. It is time to accept it and be supportive of your representative. At the end of the day it is not about PLP or FNM [Free National Movement]. It's about the people and the nation. So we must do our part to continue to build up this great country with our continuous support."
Pastor Leonard Johnson
Pastor Leonard Johnson, head of Seventh-day Adventist Church said a unified front is what is needed by the people of the nation and the government now that the country is commencing another five-year journey under a new government.
"As Christians, Seventh-day Adventists recognize the legitimate role that organized government plays in society and the right of all people to vote freely. Accordingly, on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in The Bahamas I congratulate and express support for the new government of The Bahamas. We pledge our support to the government as they are duly elected. And we would like to encourage them to build up this wonderful Bahamas and seek to incorporate all persons as they do."
Pastor Johnson also said he hopes the government will take the importance of depending upon God seriously for guidance, wisdom and knowledge as it takes all of these qualities to lead a country and people. He said thinking they can do this great task alone is unrealistic and he hopes politicians remember to always put God first and see the miracles He can accomplish.
He said this is also the time to recognize the many men who came before and remember all that they did to set the country on its path -- particularly the outgoing prime minister and his government.
Many people may not be happy with the result of the elections but Pastor Johnson said it is important for all citizens of the country to show patriotism to the country and support its leader and government.
"This is not meant to be unsympathetic to the people who are hurting during this time, but this is something you can get over. It is important to do so because the nation will still need to move forward. And all citizens need to be active and supportive of the upward movement no matter who is in government. So this means praying for the government and showing support whenever possible. We hope the incoming government will continue to do what's best for the nation and make good decisions for the good of the people in the years to come," he said.
A Supreme Court judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit against the Royal Bahamas Police Force by two brothers who claimed they were victims of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Maurice Forbes said he got into a traffic accident with Bobby Walker while driving on Baillou Hill Road around 5 a.m. on September 6, 2008.
Officers 1856 Sands and 2697 Forbes, who were on mobile patrol, responded to the accident. Maurice phoned his mother Deserian Forbes, who later arrived on the scene with his brother Adrian.
Police charged the brothers with the offenses of disorderly behavior, assaulting a police officer, using obscene language and threats of death. The charges were dismissed on January 20, 2009 because the witnesses, except one, failed to appear to testify.
During the civil suit before Justice Stephen Isaacs, both brothers admitted that they used obscenities.
Isaacs determined that the "officers acted within the ambit of the law as they had ample evidence that the plaintiffs had committed the offenses of using obscene language and behaving in a disorderly manner. There is prima facie evidence that the plaintiffs assaulted the officers and issued threats of death, but that evidence is not as clear as the evidence relative to using obscene language and disorderly behavior."
Isaacs also dismissed a claim of aggravated assault by Adrian Forbes, who claimed he was severely beaten by as many as six officers.
Isaacs said, "The officers on the scene were required to maintain control of the scene of the accident as well as the people on the scene. Adrian by his written admission was hostile and challenged the police. The police were required to control him. His pleaded case of sustaining injures has not been proven by any medical evidence."
The judge noted that the evidence showed that Adrian confronted the police when he arrived at the scene and resisted arrest. Maurice also admitted using obscene language and disorderly behavior. Consequently the first officers on the scene had to call for assistance.
"In my judgment the defendants were required to use such force as was necessary to effect the arrest of the plaintiffs," Isaacs said. "No aggravated assault has been proven."
The court also rejected the claim of malicious prosecution, saying, "In the instant case there is a preponderance of evidence on which the defendants could form a reasonable and probable cause to lay the charges of use of obscene language, assault and disorderly behavior at the very least. The fact that the plaintiffs were discharged due to the non-appearance of witnesses is not relevant consideration to determine if reasonable and probable cause existed."
The judge said that Constable 941 Elvies, who was not on the scene, conducted an investigation and based on his findings laid the charges.
Isaacs ordered the parties to bear their own costs.
Edward Turner and Owen Wells appeared for the plaintiffs. Kayla Green-Smith and Olivia Pratt-Nixon appeared for the defendants.
Firstly, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to those in the Englerston constituency who voted for me and believed that I would work in their best interests. I would also like to thank my family, friends and comrades, locally and internationally, for their assistance and guidance throughout this entire process.
In spite of my very moderate support at the polls I have the political maturity to understand that mass movements begin with very tiny steps and can only triumph with sustained struggle.
Presently, we have a situation in The Bahamas whereby the political parties of the ruling class use everything in their arsenal to seduce the masses and workers into handing over power to them at their own expense.
This seduction was thoroughly apparent during this election season at "parties" that masqueraded as political rallies where there was hardly any constructive discussion of how we would concretely improve the living conditions and overall wellbeing of the masses. All the while, cries from the public for a national debate on the issues went ignored.
In addition, because of the conditioning of the media, tradition, and the lack of ongoing political education by a revolutionary political party, voting for ruling class political parties is currently recognized as the only method for achieving change.
However, the reality is that this election will not change the conditions of the people. The economic conditions will continue to deteriorate, with joblessness and the cost of living reflecting the ongoing exploitation of the human and material resources of the people of The Bahamas.
In light of all this, I recognize that my primary task now is to build the African People's Socialist Party-Bahamas, a section of the African Socialist International, to begin the process of educating the workers and masses to an understanding of their own class interests and organizing the workers to recognition of the necessity of struggling to replace the class in power with themselves as workers, the producers of all the wealth indigenous to The Bahamas.
Moreover, I am convinced that the Revolutionary National Democratic Program (RNDP) presented during my campaign is the best starting point for projecting the interests of the workers and the revolutionary national democratic sector of the population of The Bahamas.
That RNDP puts forth the following platform that is still relevant today, despite my hollow victory in this election:
1. Economic development & job creation
2. Community control of the police
3. Widening citizenship rights
4. Ending imperialist domination of The Bahamas.
The working and democratic forces of The Bahamas must come into our own independent organization to make a genuine contest for power in our own hands at the expense of the international corporations and the neocolonialist agents who continue to administer the country and economy for them at our expense.
Join with us to build the African People's Socialist Party-Bahamas. All power to the people.
- Alex Morley
City Market's sale to Super Value should conclude today, as legal documents are being finalized and signed by all parties.
"The deal is expected to be concluded by Monday at the latest, and as it stands, we are well on the way to doing that. Everything has been agreed upon. It's a just matter of finalizing the legal forms correctly and getting all stakeholders to sign on the dotted lines," according to Mark Finlayson, president of Bahamas Supermarkets Limited.
Finlayson revealed to Guardian Business that the sale is not just an agreement between the two food store chains, but also includes the creditor, purchaser and the landlords.
Despite remaining tight-lipped about the sale's value, Finlayson stressed the fact that it wasn't being sold for much - just enough to pay some outstanding bills and take care of hundreds of City Market employees.
"I won't give you the exact value, but I will say it is not being sold for much. The sale
really will only cover a few outstanding expenses. It should be enough after we take care of our employees," he said.
BSL's chief noted the main purpose of this deal is to pass those assets on to Rupert Roberts, the owner of Super Value, so that he is able to provide employment for the workers. He also confirmed that Super Value has already hired a number of people.
"We are trying to see if we can get all of our employees paid out for their services," Finlayson explained.
"We are also trying to secure all of those employees with jobs. Some of them are already working for Roberts (Super Value). We have between 250 to 275 employees here in Nassau. Roberts has already hired a number of people and already bought food for the Cable Beach store."
Finlayson said he would like to see the employees in a position where they can have their cake and eat too, as they are entitled to severance pay by law.
He continued: "We are also trying to see if we can get some severance pay in order to tie them over until this new job takes effect."
Last month, the head of Super Value told Guardian Business that negotiations to acquire City Market are "slow" and "there is still so much to be done".
Roberts conceded that it would likely be up to mid-to-late summer before any of the boarded up City Market locations reopened under the Super Value banner, with the possible exception of Cable Beach.
"The other stores are 20 years old and everything has to be replaced," he said.
"They have to be completely refurbished. That takes time. It would likely take three months just to order the equipment and install it."
The disclosure is bad news for the landlords at these locations, not to mention the hundreds of City Market employees in limbo.
Roberts told Guardian Business that the supermarket chain is continuing to interview City Market staff for other positions.
Severance owed to the remaining City Market workers is thought to be in the range of $5 million.
Weeks after parting ways with Bimini Big Game Club, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts has reached an agreement with the Abaco-based Green Turtle Club.
The new alliance becomes effective immediately, as the Green Turtle Club will become the inaugural member of the new Expedition Properties Portfolio by Guy Harvey Outpost. President of Guy Harvey Outpost Mark Ellert said the partnership is a perfect chance to showcase one of the hidden gems in The Bahamas.
"We are extremely excited to launch the Expedition Properties Portfolio with the famed Green Turtle Club as our inaugural member hotel," Ellert said. "Our intent with Expedition Properties is to showcase small, independently owned properties in unique destinations that are focused on watersports recreation and whose owners are committed to customer service, sustainability and conservation.
"Given the Club's legacy, the professionalism of its staff and dedication of its owners, I'm hard pressed to think of a better opportunity in The Bahamas than this."
The news comes after Guy Harvey Outpost cut ties with Bimini Big Game Club earlier in the month, with foreclosure issues influencing the move in another direction. The two former partners had a business relationship for two years, in which Guy Harvey Outpost pumped $3.5 million in renovations to revitalize the Bimini-based resort.
Due to the foreclosure setback, it prevented Guy Harvey Outpost from purchasing the property when it wanted to, which spurred the decision to take its business interests elsewhere.
As an Expedition Property, Guy Harvey Outpost will market the club and offer travel and booking services to its customers through its Outpost Travel Desk and central reservation office. Co-owner of Green Turtle Club Adam Showell said the company led by Ellert was an ideal fit for both parties.
"Guy Harvey embodies the personality of the club, and its guests," Showell said. "His authenticity, commitment to excellence and passionate outreach to those of all ages and accomplishment are hallmarks of the Green Turtle Club."
While the deal between Guy Harvey Outpost and Green Turtle Club is still fresh, Ellert hinted at more opportunities that may await.
"Thirty degrees north and south of the equator, there are a lot of great properties with committed owners like Adam and Ann who share our vision of sustainability and hospitality," he said. "In growing the Expedition Properties Portfolio, our intent will be to spotlight these properties and encourage our customers to support them."
Green Turtle Club offers 31 guest rooms, a 40-slip marina and fuel dock, restaurant, bar/lounge and poolside bar. The Club hosts the annual Green Turtle Club Billfish Tournament, having just concluded its 25th Silver Anniversary last week.
The matter concerning Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells' signing of a letter of intent (LOI) with a waste-to-energy company on July 4 has escalated into a ball of confusion fueled by conflicting comments the deputy prime minister made on the issue, and the prime minister's deafening silence after asking Wells more than a week ago to resign from his position in the Ministry of Works.
This matter appears to be a small scratch that has festered into a huge sore simply because our leaders have again failed to attack and deal with this head-on.
What many people do not understand is if Prime Minister Perry Christie asked Wells to resign and Wells has not resigned, why has the prime minister not fired him?
Why has Christie not made a statement to explain the matter to the public?
In the absence of all of that, the level of speculation has mounted.
It is yet another self-inflicted wound for the Christie administration.
Had the prime minister addressed it immediately, the public debate might have been losing momentum right now.
Instead, it is building steam. Many questions are being asked.
The Wells matter is sharing the spotlight with important initiatives like the recently tabled constitutional bills and the Value-Added Tax Bill.
No answers are forthcoming.
After a two-week run in the press, the basics of this saga are well known: Wells signed the letter of intent for a $600 million-plus waste-to-energy plant with Stellar Waste To Energy Bahamas Limited (SWTEB).
It would involve the project developer putting up 100 percent of the cost of the development of the facility at the New Providence landfill.
After Guardian Business reported that Stellar, headed by investment banker Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni, signed a letter of intent with the government, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said he was not aware of such a signing and Wells would not have the legal authority to execute such a letter.
Davis said of the LOI: "I know nothing about this. I know of Stellar Energy. I know this company had put in a proposal some time ago, and that's what I know about it.
"I know they would've met me once or twice to explain their proposal to me, but a matter of signing an LOI is something that would require Cabinet's intervention.
"I don't know that a parliamentary secretary would have authority to sign such a document without the direction of Cabinet. I don't know how this came about."
After The Nassau Guardian reported last Monday that Wells has been asked to resign, Davis said he still needed to determine whether Wells did anything wrong.
Wells had already confirmed to us that Christie and Davis met with him on the matter. He said he was prepared to resign if it would mean protecting the integrity of the Westminster system he swore to uphold.
We later learned that on the same day of our story revealing that Wells has been asked to resign, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works Colin Higgs provided the deputy prime minister with a written opinion on the matter of the LOI.
While Higgs did not comment on whether Wells exceeded his authority in signing the document, he said the letter of intent was more a letter of interest and does not commit the government to anything.
"The document summarizes Stellar Waste to Energy (Bahamas) Ltd.'s (SWTEB) proposed waste-to-energy plant investment proposal and does not, in my view, commit the government of The Bahamas to any approvals in respect of the proposed plant or [power purchase agreement]," Higgs wrote.
We assume that the DPM will use that opinion to formulate his final views on this issue.
Higgs' opinion seems to suggest that too much is being made of the issue of Wells signing the document as the document carries no significant legal weight.
That said, the question of whether Wells had the authority to sign it is at the heart of this debacle.
It should be answered definitively by either the prime minister or the deputy prime minister, who has ministerial responsibility for the Ministry of Works.
While Davis initially indicated that Wells exceeded his authority in signing the letter, and the prime minister's request for Wells' resignation seemed to confirm this, the fact that no action has been taken against Wells suggests that Christie and Davis might have formulated their initial conclusions too soon.
Speaking to this issue last Monday, Davis said, "From all accounts there ought to be concern, but the question is whether he did anything wrong, or whether he did anything that in any way is contrary to established protocols.
"I will look into those things and have a discussion with him. He obviously would have an explanation for what he did. I will test that explanation and then we will see what happens from there."
The Tribune quoted Christie on Friday saying the government will speak to the matter "whenever we are ready to speak to it".
He said, "I'm sure the deputy prime minister, who has the ministry in which Renward works, will speak to it and Mr. Wells himself will speak to it."
This is after Christie asked Wells to resign.
Is there any wonder we are confused by all of this?
Again, Christie has not fired Wells. Davis' last public comments were that he was not sure if Wells did anything wrong.
What else are we to conclude about this matter?
Many people following this issue are left wondering whether Christie and Davis are even on the same page.
If Christie already asked Wells to resign, why the DPM still needed an explanation from Wells to make a determination on the matter is indeed perplexing.
Should the powers that be reach a clear conclusion that Wells indeed erred, Wells has an opportunity to demonstrate to the nation and create a clear separation between this new generation of politicians and the old, tone deaf generation of politicians, and take public responsibility for his error.
He has made it clear to us that he is prepared to resign from his position to preserve the integrity of the Westminster system.
That action would send a clear message to those in and outside of government that there are those amongst us who have honor and who do have respect for this system, which we are nurturing and building every day.
We have recently seen a litany of officials flaunt their positions in the face of conflicts of interest and questionable behavior on their part.
We trust that Wells does not fall victim to this. This would be a refreshing first step for us.
The letter of intent signed by Wells is a three-page document.
We have been unable to confirm who drafted it.
It states clearly that the agreement is "between the parliamentary secretary to the minister of works responsible for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation for and on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, of the one part, and Stellar Waste to Energy (Bahamas) Ltd.".
It states that the project developer has prepared a full proposal for the design, construction and operation of a waste-to-energy plant.
The expected delivery date for the plant is July 1, 2016.
The project includes a substation and connecting transmission lines from the plant to the grid now located on John F. Kennedy Drive.
The actual cost, configuration and performance of the waste-to-energy plant will be validated by an engineering feasibility study to be performed by SWTEB.
Stellar intends to sell the produced electricity output to the government under an exclusive agreement for a period of 25 years.
The LOI also requires Stellar to submit an acceptable proof of funding in the initial amount of $40 million, by way of a loan offer, which satisfies the government that it is in a position to begin the completion of a front end loading study.
As noted by PS Higgs in his opinion, paragraph six of the document makes clear the intention for SWTEB being entitled to compensation (to be agreed) from the government of The Bahamas should, the government fail to proceed with the power purchase agreement (PPA).
However, in paragraph seven, the PPA is subject to SWTEB obtaining National Economic Council (NEC) approval to invest in The Bahamas.
The company was to apply for NEC approval after signing the document, Higgs noted.
According to the document, the LOI is valid for 12 months, unless extended by mutual consent of the parties releasing the other from their respective obligations, if for any reason the project does not proceed and the intended project is terminated as a result.
"Both parties will bear their own expenses and opportunity costs incurred, if any, and to indemnify the other party from any claims whatsoever in this regard, with any expenses disbursed up to date of termination being forfeited," the LOI states.
With the waste-to-energy project now shrouded in controversy, its fate is uncertain.
Asked last Monday if he spoke to officials from Stellar Waste to Energy, Davis said no and added that he did not intend to.
We are unsure whether that statement portends a doomed project.
We note that KPMG, the government's key advisor in the energy reform process, has confirmed that Stellar was told last year that its proposal was not approved to progress to the second phase of the energy reform process.
Simon Townend, head of advisory for KPMG (Bahamas), said the decision with respect to SWTEB's proposal was taken after it, like all bidders, was "assessed on a wide range of financial, technical and other appropriate criteria".
This has raised more questions about the signing of the LOI.
As there has been no explanation from Wells or the prime minister or deputy prime minister, it is not known by us, who, if any authority figure, gave Wells the green light for the signing.
There is widespread public perception that the parliamentary secretary signed the document only after receiving an indication from his superiors that the government had agreed to move in this direction.
But there is no confirmation that this is the case.
For the prime minister, there are multiple issues at play here.
There is the political issue.
His request for Wells' resignation then his ensuing silence when Wells did not resign plays into the perception that he is a weak and indecisive leader.
There is also a seeming conflict between the prime minister and his deputy. That has left room open for speculation on a power struggle between the two.
Then there is the issue of the integrity of the energy reform process and how this matter might threaten that.
As with other similar national controversies, Christie's failure to swiftly and clearly address the Wells saga is creating a distraction the government could do without as it approaches the mid point of this term.
In her column of May 17, Arinthia Komolafe observes: "The DNA's showing was historic and impressive as it garnered approximately eight percent of the electoral vote, the highest by far for a third party."
Actually, no. In the 1977 elections (which I recall well, being seven years old at the time) the newly-formed Bahamas Democratic Party (BDP) garnered 27 percent of the national vote and secured six parliamentary seats. In doing so it easily surpassed the existing opposition Free National Movement (FNM), which still nonetheless did far better than the DNA in 2012, garnering 15 percent of the national vote and securing two seats.
I am not sure whether Komolafe was living to recall that election, or whether she has experienced any more than the last few election cycles in The Bahamas, but none of this excuses her presenting sweeping statements without either analysis or research.
Sadly, the level of public discussion in The Bahamas has become so generally ignorant that I have heard the DNA's showing described similarly by many pundits and observers.
Whatever one's opinion of the DNA (and mine is no secret), here is the fact: the DNA fizzled like a damp squib. It got no seats and under 10 percent of the national vote (and far fewer if you discount the votes for an incumbent ex-minister). It lost many deposits. It is now sure to fold, as its more promising candidates abandon ship for one or the other of the traditional parties.
Whatever her bias or agenda, Komolafe should do better research so as to avoid repeating falsehoods in her column.
- Andrew Allen
Former Prime Minister and member of Parliament-elect for the constituency of North Abaco Hubert A. Ingraham told his constituents that he will be stepping down as their representative on July 19. It was on that day 35 years ago that a 29-year-old attorney was first elected that area's member of Parliament. He would win eight consecutive elections in that area.
In 1977 Ingraham received 892 votes, or 69 percent, of the votes cast. There were 1,292 voters who cast their ballots on that day. In the May 7 general election, 4,130 constituents voted. Ingraham only received 2,235 votes, or 54 percent of the votes. After all the former prime minister did for that area, a staggering 46 percent of the voters were firmly against Ingraham winning that contest against an unknown candidate, Renardo Curry.
Obviously, Ingraham's base in that area has eroded over the years. Moreover, his political opponents pumped a lot of money into their campaign in an effort to humiliate the former prime minister at the polls in North Abaco. They were hoping for a major upset. The constituency of Cooper's Town was an impoverished, backward area when Ingraham first became its MP. Today, it is one of the more economically vibrant constituencies in The Bahamas. I cannot understand why the 1,895 residents who supported the two opposing candidates would want to deny the former prime minister another term in office.
On the night of May 7, a teary-eyed Ingraham conceded defeat at his party's headquarters on Mackey Street after it became clear that the governing party had been crushed at the polls. This would be the second election loss that the former prime minister had suffered in two years. His candidate, Dr. Duane Sands, lost his by-election contest in 2010. Perhaps that election defeat should have portended doom to the then Ingraham administration. The night of May 7 was first time I had ever seen Ingraham near tears. I had become so accustomed to seeing him win elections. But this was not to be this time around. His political opponents worked feverishly in portraying him as an intolerable tyrant to the youth of this nation. It was this voting bloc that did Ingraham in at the polls. These young people cannot appreciate what Ingraham has done for this country. The overwhelming majority of them don't read, so they know nothing about the reputation of The Bahamas being in tatters when Ingraham first became prime minister in 1992.
August 19, 1992 was the day that Ingraham and the Free National Movement (FNM) defeated Sir Lynden O. Pindling and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). The PLP was the government of The Bahamas for 25 consecutive years. It wasn't easy to defeat the PLP, which for many years has been considered the party of the small man and the black masses. Sir Lynden was called the Black Moses, who led the country to majority rule in 1967 and to independence in 1973.
Many Bahamians, including myself, just could not envisage Sir Lynden not being prime minister. He ruled this country with an iron fist. In fact, this alleged dictatorial tendency of the late father of the nation led eight PLP members of Parliament to abandon the party in the early 1970s. These political dissidents, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Arthur Foulkes, Warren J. Levarity, James Shepherd, Curtis McMillan, George Thompson, Elwood Donaldson and Maurice Moore, called themselves the Free-PLP party. They later formed a political party and called it the Free National Movement. The FNM was led by Wallace-Whitfield, who at one time was the minister of education in Sir Lynden's young government. The United Bahamian Party (UBP) also joined forces with the newly-formed opposition party.
History has proven that the move by the so-called Dissident Eight was a good one. Imagine not having a viable option to the PLP? The Bahamas would have never matured politically without the formation of the FNM. Granted, The Bahamas had several political parties during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
It was no secret that Sir Lynden had no intention of ever stepping down. Even when he was encouraged to relinquish his post as prime minister after the commission of inquiry of the mid-1980s, Sir Lynden dug in his heels and remained in his post. Sir Lynden and his PLP were so entrenched in this nation as the government that even after the shocking revelations of corruption in the 1984 commission of inquiry, the party still was able to hold on to the government in the 1987 general election.
Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie both won as independent candidates in 1987. Both Ingraham and Christie were kicked out of the Cabinet for protesting the rampant corruption within the party. Instead of being applauded for their courageous stand by Pindling, they were both fired. Subsequently, Ingraham was expelled from the PLP. Ingraham had served as minister of housing, national insurance and social services in Pindling's Cabinet. He was also chairman of The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation. In 1976, he was elected national chairman of the ruling PLP government.
I have heard several former prominent FNMs stating on numerous occasions that had Sir Cecil been alive to lead the FNM in the 1992 election, the party would have still won. Perhaps they are right, but we will never know. Providence had other plans for this nation. Besides, if there was ever a time for the then FNM Leader Sir Kendall Isaacs and his deputy Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield to defeat the PLP, it was in 1987. There was simply no way the PLP should have carried that election. In my humble opinion, the two FNM leaders of the 1980s were not as charismatic and energetic as Ingraham. Had Ingraham been the leader of the FNM in 1987, the PLP would have been defeated.
After the 1987 election, Sir Kendal stepped down as leader of the FNM. Sir Cecil once again became the leader of the opposition. However, Sir Cecil became gravely ill with cancer. He died in May 1990.
Ingraham became the new leader of the FNM following Sir Cecil's untimely death. He had joined the party in April of that year. Ingraham was successful in leading the FNM to victory in the Marco City by-election which was held in June of 1990. Ingraham also led the FNM to a stunning victory in the historic August 19,1992 general election, as was mentioned already.
I was amazed at Ingraham's boldness and charisma during the period leading up to the 1992 election. He was not afraid to challenge Sir Lynden. Back then I didn't know that we had people in this country who weren't afraid of the then prime minister. The FNM's victory in 1992 changed the course of Bahamian history.
In my humble opinion, the following decade, 1992 to 2002, was the greatest in this nation's history. It was without precedent. Ingraham was able to attract hotel mogul Sol Kerzner to this country. Kerzner built a first-class resort on Paradise Island, Atlantis. This new resort has transformed The Bahamas' tourism sector, which was dying in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. In fact, when the FNM became the new government in 1992, the unemployment rate was through the roof. Today, Atlantis is this nation's largest private employer. Ingraham also privatized government-owned hotels.
These failing hotels were a burden on the treasury. Ingraham also ended the government's broadcast monopoly. He opened up the airwaves. Now Bahamians can listen to other radio stations, instead of just ZNS Radio. He also brought cable television to New Providence and to several other Family Islands.
For years, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas was the unofficial organ of Sir Lynden and the PLP. No one would have dared to criticize Sir Lynden on ZNS TV13 and Radio. Anyone brazen enough to do this would have been either fired from their job or disenfranchised by Sir Lynden's loyal supporters. Ingraham brought about sweeping changes to broadcasting. He has also deepened democracy in this country.
It is truly ironic, though, that the man who is responsible for deepening democracy in this country is labeled "The Dictator" and a tyrant by the PLP and his other detractors. Anyone could have gone on any radio talk show and lambaste Ingraham when he was prime minister and not suffered any political repercussions. I have even seen Ingraham's critics on ZNS TV13 lambasting him on many occasions. This country has matured politically under Ingraham's leadership. The FNM under Ingraham had made a solemn oath to do away with political victimization, which had allegedly become so common in Sir Lynden's government. Ingraham has also cleaned up the image of this country, which had been greatly tarnished by the PLP administration in the 1970s and 1980s. He restored the international community's confidence and trust in The Bahamas. That is why the Christie administration was able to attract several major investments between 2002 and 2007.
Ingraham also introduced local government to the Family Islands. Additionally, Ingraham was able to attract several major investments to Grand Bahama during his first decade as prime minister: Polymers International Ltd., the Freeport Container Port, Bradford Marine and the Grand Bahama Shipyard. Ingraham brought about a major economic boom in Grand Bahama and New Providence during the 1990s.
Ingraham had his share of challenges during his final term in office, owing to the Great Recession, along with high unemployment throughout The Bahamas; the grossly mismanaged New Providence Road Improvement Project; the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to Cable and Wireless Communications; the downsizing at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas; the unrest at customs and immigration; and the crime crisis in New Providence.
There was the lingering possibility that the "Delivery Boy", as Sir Lynden labeled him in the early 1990s, might very well lose his first election as leader of the FNM because of the myriad of problems facing the nation. The possibility became a reality on the night of May 7.
Yet, despite all that has happened in his final term as prime minister, I believe that when future generations look back at this nation's first 38 years of independence, they will say that Hubert A.Ingraham was the greatest prime minister of The Bahamas. Many Bahamians seem to have forgotten what this nation was like before Ingraham became prime minister in 1992. All of a sudden we have conveniently forgotten the deplorable depths this nation had descended to in the 1970s and 1980s. I for one refuse to play the role of an amnesiac.
I would like to thank Ingraham for all he has done for this country. Informed Bahamians will forever be greatly indebted to him.
- Kevin Evans
When parties lose elections, the faithful are distraught. Some see doom around every corner.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) did not win a landslide, really. Many of the swing seats in New Providence were decided by 250 votes or less. And many Family Island seats, such as North Andros and The Berry Islands and Central and South Eleuthera, were decided by less than 100 votes.
The Free National Movement (FNM) now needs to embrace the concept of generational change. Many of its candidates who lost this time have been around for quite a while. They may appear reasonably young, but as politicians they are exhausted. This group should go with Hubert Ingraham.
By that we do not mean that they should totally leave politics. They should not run again, however. Instead, these individuals should offer their experience to the party from behind the scenes. They should graduate and become elder statesmen of the party giving advice to the next generation of FNMs. Those younger capable candidates of the party should be featured going forward.
Dr. Hubert Minnis will have his first test when he appoints his party's senators. If he uses this moment to present a vibrant group of young FNMs, the country would take note that the opposition is on the road to comprehensive change. If he appoints individuals who are past their primes just to keep their political careers alive, people will think that Dr. Minnis and this version of the FNM are just an extension of the Ingraham era.
Those young FNMs, hungry to make their marks in public life, would be more energized to lead the fight against the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) than men who are in the twilight of their political careers.
In politics, there comes a time when your political currency is spent. The people have seen enough of you, they have heard enough of you, and the best thing to do is go with dignity and grace. The time has come for a number of people who lost Monday night.
The new opposition leader should block from the frontline those who do not know it is time to go - that is, if he wants his party to win in five years.
Ingraham's change of heart a good move
On election night, Hubert Ingraham said he would not take his seat in Parliament and that he was gone as FNM leader. He has wisely moderated those decisions, staying on as FNM leader until the party's May 26 convention and now saying he will formally retire from politics on July 19, the anniversary of his first election in 1977.
Ingraham made the July 19 announcement at his goodbye party in Abaco on Saturday.
So, we should see him in the House of Assembly, at some point, for his formal goodbye to the nation. The country deserves to hear his summary of his time in public life and those of his contemporaries.
The nation will watch. We hope all members realize that the occasion will be historic and that they should speak reasonably. Ingraham contributed a lot to the development of the modern Bahamas. He also had shortcomings. The full account of his 15 years as prime minister and eight election victories to the House of Assembly should be taken into account by our MPs. The venom of the campaign trail should be left there.