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Four days after the 2012 general election, the final numbers are in, the victory speeches have been made and a new prime minister has been sworn in, but now comes the mammoth task of the post-election cleanup, according to Director of Environmental Health Services Melanie McKenzie.
In some areas the department has already begun taking down smaller political signs and billboards, McKenzie said.
However, the major "sweep" of the country will begin by the end of next week, allowing candidates, members of Parliament-elect and their teams to recover some signs that are said to be quite valuable.
"This is actually the most we have ever seen. In past general elections there have not been anywhere near as many signs and billboards," McKenzie told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
"Some of the signs were well made and people may wish to recover their wood, and so we allow them some time to do just that."
Despite wishing to catch up on some rest after a hard-fought election campaign, Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament-elect for Mount Moriah Arnold Forbes said yesterday that his team has begun to take down signs in his constituency and around his headquarters.
However, using a touch of ingenuity, Forbes said many of the signs are being replaced with new ones that will offer thanks to the people of Mount Moriah, and others that will recognize Mother's Day.
"Win or lose we had planned to do that, we had already ordered them and we are just getting them prepared, just to tell the community thank you and that we will not betray their trust," he said. "We need to be more innovative and more in touch with our communities."
McKenzie said that personnel will categorically clean district-by-district as quickly as possible to return the country to normalcy, but some people have already started to take down signs in many communities.
"We have persons assigned to various routes and we just asked them in the course of the day to take signs and posters down so that we can throw them away. At the same time we will be conducting street cleaning," she said.
So far, teams have been assigned to East Bay Street, West Bay Street, and Yamacraw Road. The Ministry of Works will assist with equipment, dump trucks and collection bags.
Each team is made up of around eight people, but McKenzie explained that each district could be assigned between six and seven teams, with some people volunteering.
"What's not taken down is where we come in," she said.
McKenzie said she was not aware of any legal ramifications for political parties refusing to remove or clean up signs and billboards.
Warring metal trade brothers Amir Weissfisch and Rami Weisfisch have failed to reach an out of court settlement, their lawyers told the Court of Appeal yesterday during a case management hearing.
The appellate court will hear arguments on the ruling of Justice Stephen Isaacs over a disputed accountant's report from November 12 to 14.
Rami has filed an appeal against the judge's ruling.
Amir, who ran The Bahamas registered Metals Resources Group (MRG) with his elder brother Rami Weisfisch, claims that Rami reneged on a plan to dissolve their partnership and is suing for up to $88 million.
This is denied by Rami, who spells his surname differently from Amir. Allen Steinfeld, QC, who represents Amir, asked the bench of Justices Christopher Blackman, Abdulai Conteh and Stanley John to consider requiring Rami to post a security for costs since he did not live in The Bahamas and has no assets that they know of in his name.
The court said it would take the matter under advisement.
Nicholas Lavender, QC, appears for Rami.
Justice of Appeal Blackman told the parties that they are not precluded from reaching a settlement before the hearing date. He said the parties would have to keep the timetable for the filing of submissions and responses set by the court, if no settlement is reached.
The Free National Movement (FNM) yesterday accused the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration of victimization following the Broadcasting Corporation's termination of its contract with Christina 'Chrissy Love' Thompson, who hosted 'Immediate Response' on ZNS.
However, the corporation denied that Thompson was terminated, claiming that she and the corporation mutually agreed to end her contract.
But Thompson said there was no such mutual agreement and no reason for the contract to be terminated two months before it was due to expire.
"Prime Minister Perry Christie has spoken of how much he abhors victimization," the FNM said.
"Indeed, days before the general election he dismissed allegations that his party would fire persons engaged at various public corporations, saying that a government led by him 'would never fire Bahamians who they met working'."
The FNM said the termination clearly indicates the PLP neither believes in Bahamians nor cares for Bahamians, and has "quickly returned to its old ways".
The Ingraham administration received similar criticisms when it cancelled the contracts of former 'Immediate Response' host Steve McKinney and 'Drive Time' host Philipa 'Lady' Russell shortly after taking office in 2007.
Former Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest said the FNM believes in democracy and freedom of expression as it did when it last took office, although he did not comment on the circumstances surrounding the cancelled contracts of McKinney or Russell.
"If the government is using that to justify its actions, surely two wrongs don't make a right," he told The Guardian.
Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage, whose portfolio includes broadcasting, was not available for comment yesterday.
The corporation said it is committed to ensuring that it provides listeners with public service programming that sets the bar for professional broadcast quality.
Thompson claimed that after a meeting with the general manager during which time the contract termination was announced, she concluded that the current adminstration was not interested in broadcasting contrasting views of the government.
She added that her criticisms were broadcast in a professional manner.
"The fact that the party which prides itself on being new and different is reverting back [to such] tendencies in 2012 is shocking," Thompson said.
"The gracious thing to do would have been to let me finish up my contract...Based on [the party's] actions it would appear that it has reverted back to the post 1992 ways of our country."
Thompson said she appreciated the support from the FNM but did not wish to be the recipient of political 'footballing' between the two parties.
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.
With a change of government, the new administration has the right and the responsibility to make various changes it deems best in the conduct of the nation's business. This includes the reassignment of human resources in terms of civil servants, board assignments and contracts.
A certain level of patronage is to be expected. So, too the reassignment of senior public officers including permanent secretaries.
Still, during transitions from one administration to the next there is the risk of excess. There is the potential excess of a party's more fervent supporters who often give vent to pent up frustration and a desire for "payback".
Oftentimes this is manifested in supporters blowing off steam. Sometimes the result is unacceptable behavior such as the intimidation of the supporters of other parties and other crude behavior that is unacceptable.
The Government of The Bahamas does not belong to any political party. The government of the day is a caretaker and steward, not a proprietor. Today's government is tomorrow's opposition and vice versa.
In terms of right and proper conduct, we do not accept the baseless and immature argument, "Well the other side did it. Now, it's our time." It is never time to indulge certain mind-sets and behavior, a point we have previously made regardless of who is in office.
The tamping down of excess by one's supporters is always an obligation of political leaders. Excusing or ignoring any such excess reflects on the leaders of a party in or out of office.
Equally important is the question of potential victimization. This may include the cancellation of various contracts including for professional services, consultancies, infrastructure, public maintenance or other purposes.
First, there is the reality of a new government's self-interest. A party that the public believes is indulging in victimization risks a backlash and the loss of support from independent voters and its own supporters.
For example, the canceling of a business contract for a supporter of another party may result in that individual having to lay off employees who voted for or supported the incoming administration.
Then there is the national interest. We simply have to progress beyond the temptation to indulge in the petty, knee-jerk and undemocratic victimization of others that we have witnessed in various governments over the years. It is wrong and it generates an unhealthy bitterness in the society.
Those who do not recognize that it is in their self-interest and in the national interest to demonstrate restraint and maturity may pay a price for such behavior even as that behavior exacts a cost on our progress as a nation.
One example of political maturity by the new Christie administration would be to retain some of the talented Bahamians already serving on a number of public boards.
While we expect such boards to be substantially populated by new appointees of the new Government, there are individuals with certain experience, and technical or academic expertise, who should be retained for the national good.
We are too small a country to dismiss certain talent because "they aren't one of us" or because "we don't know how they voted".
The results of the recent general election prove that democracy is still alive and well in our nation. In the words of the late Sir Lynden O. Pindling after having conceded defeat to Hubert Ingraham in the 1992 general election, "The people of this great little democracy have spoken in a most dignified and elegant manner. And the voice of the people is the voice of God".
In an earlier piece, we had referenced the Jamaican elections of December 2011 in which the ruling Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) was defeated by the People's National Party (PNP). In the run-up to that election just like The Bahamas elections, polls had indicated that the race was close and in a dead heat. However, the reverse would occur as the PNP would command 49 of the 63 available seats with no seats going to independents or third parties. The challenges faced by the JLP were similar to those faced by the Free National Movement (FNM) government and not surprisingly, the outcomes have proved to be identical.
A reflection on election 2012
At this point, it is too early to state with great certainty the cause of the FNM's defeat in the 2012 general election. There is no doubt that the general election was hotly contested even though the number of constituencies won by the parties may not show this fact. Apart from the long established parties of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the FNM, we saw the entrance of the newly formed Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
The DNA under the leadership of Branville McCartney capitalized on the obvious political divide of and the clamor for change by the Bahamian electorate. However, as anticipated, votes for the DNA did not help the party win the government but rather served as spoiler of votes for the FNM and the PLP. In the aftermath of the elections, certain political analysts have concluded that the presence of the DNA hurt the FNM more than it did the PLP based on the assumption that votes that were cast in favor of the DNA would have gone to the FNM. This conclusion fails to explore the possibility that the DNA votes could have increased the number of PLP votes (and ultimately the number of PLP seats won) if in fact individuals voted against the FNM government and/or leadership. However, in the absence of any scientific data to support these analyses, any subsequent conclusions are flawed.
In a public poll spearheaded by Public Domain, the results of the poll evidenced that there was an anti-government support with the FNM receiving 30.5 percent, the PLP 20.3 percent and DNA 16.5 percent. Further, the exit polls conducted by The Tribune after the advanced polls showed the PLP ahead of the FNM significantly. Preliminary data suggest that both the PLP and the FNM maintained their base while the DNA attained a portion of the independent and undecided votes. It can also be argued that what separated the PLP from the FNM was that the PLP gained independent and undecided voters as well as disgruntled FNMs.
Same script, different cast
In 1992, Ingraham was successful in dethroning the most dominant political figure in Bahamian politics, the late Sir Lynden O. Pindling. The administration had been plagued with socio-economic challenges due to effects of the drug era of the late 1970s through to the 1980s, a global recession, which at the time was termed the greatest since the Great Depression of the 1920s, and the rising cost of gas and food items.
Against this backdrop, Ingraham and the FNM campaigned against the PLP on the rising crime rate, an increasing national debt, illegal immigration and allegations of corruption and scandals. Ingraham and the FNM promised a "government in the sunshine" that will usher in increased accountability and transparency in governance, better economic times and increased jobs, free enterprise and privatization of public entities and most notably the liberalization of the airwaves.
The Bahamian electorate, who at the time was suffering from high unemployment or underemployment and the rising cost of living, elected Ingraham and the FNM to office with the FNM defeating the PLP and claiming 32 of the 49 seats. The FNM was subsequently granted a second mandate to govern during the general election of 1997 in a landslide victory in which the party won 34 of the 40 parliamentary seats. Many remain of the view that Pindling's failure to depart frontline politics and step down as leader of the opposition PLP also contributed to the resounding victory.
Two decades later, history has repeated itself. Ingraham, faced with similar challenges that his mentor had back in 1992, was defeated resoundingly in a landslide victory by Christie in the 2012 general election. The 2012 victory would also put to rest all questions as to whether Christie had what it took to defeat his most formidable political leader. Just like his mentor, a decade and a half earlier, Ingraham would concede defeat in a gracious manner and would go further by announcing his immediate resignation as a member of Parliament and leader of the FNM.
Christie's legacy term
The following words of Pindling after the PLP's defeat in 1997 echo through time, "Today's generation may not be so kind, but we chose to build on the past rather than destroy it. We chose consensus and compromise over confrontation and conflict." The Christie administration should be guided by these words. Christie, who has been favored to lead the final leg of the three-man political era of Pindling, Ingraham and Christie, must build upon his accomplishments and the success of his predecessors. He must chart the course this term to build upon the legacy he started during his first term in office. Christie is presented with an opportunity to not only cement the legacy of his predecessors but also to solidify his own lasting legacy for successive generations of Bahamians. A definitive decision on gambling, an effective immigration policy, the expansion of access to quality education, true urban development and expansion and diversification of our economy are realistic feats that can be achieved in one term of office.
George Mackey in one of his pieces stated the following: "By the time the PLP was voted out of office on August 19, 1992, most of the planks of its initial platform, designed to address the many social and political ills that had led to its formation, had already been virtually completed. In essence, the platform of the Quiet Revolution had run its course. What the enlightened masses required was another vision, one that had as its primary objective their economic empowerment".
This objective remains the same four and a half decades after the PLP started its journey in 1967. Christie must create the environment for economic empowerment of our people.
We the Bahamian people on our part must give credit where credit is due to leaders who have made the ultimate sacrifice to serve our nation. Our politics has divided us so much that we choose to focus on the failures of our leaders rather than their successes. Now more than ever, we must be united and committed to building a stronger and better Bahamas that will once again make its mark on the world stage. We must put our colors aside in the interest of current and future generations of Bahamians.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
By MEGAN REYNOLDS
Tribune Staff Reporter
VISITING Britons and Bahamian royalists celebrated the historic union of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at a Royal Wedding Tea Party in a state room of Government House yesterday.
More than 100 British visitors were seated, along with honoured guests including former governor general Sir Arthur Hanna and Dame Marguerite Pindling who were dressed for a wedding party and seated at tables to match.
As hundreds of thousands of Britons and visitors from around the world flocked to London to catch a glimpse of the royal couple yesterday, and celebrated at street parties across the UK, those visiting in the Bahamas sa ...