Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bahamians Decide Their Future On Monday May 07, 2012... ...We will choose between a decisive leader, who will achieve much for the country... or an indecisive leader who will let others take the lead... ...The Bahamian people hold their destiny in their own hands... ...Choose wisely...

Bahamians Decide Their Future On Monday

LAST WEEK, a young Bahamian came to see us. He wanted to talk. It was about the election, but, according to him, it was mainly about his future, which the outcome of the election would determine.
He loved the Bahamas. To him it was home -- a place he never thought he could leave. But Monday's election, and the attitude of many Bahamians, discouraged him.
"If," he said, "after all that Mr Ingraham and his government have done for the Bahamian people, especially during a world recession, they can't understand and appreciate, what is the future for this country? We are just starting to move out of our economic decline. Do you know what would happen if the PLP returned -- everything would stop, and it you think things are bad now, it will be a disaster should they get in on Monday."
"I have been thinking," he said, "if the FNM lose this election, why should I dedicate the rest of my life in trying to help build a country in which a people are so blind and unappreciative."
All Bahamians had to do, he said, was look around them, make comparisons with the PLP's five years of treading water to see the dynamic progress -- despite the hard times -- during the Ingraham years.
His words reminded us of the epithet to Sir Christopher Wren engraved on the walls of St Paul's Cathedral: "Reader, if you want to see my monument, look around you."
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher was commissioned to rebuild the city. St Paul's was his masterpiece.
The young Bahamian was particularly annoyed at the attitude of the civil service unions. During the world's economic collapse, civil servants were among the first to be fired to reduce each government's costs -- even in the great United States. Not so the Bahamas. Prime Minister Ingraham made certain that no civil servant lost his or her job. Yet, while fellow Bahamians were losing their homes, and their private sector jobs, unionists, secure in their posts, were selfishly bleating for more.
The PLP, smug in its belief of entitlement, was so shocked at losing the 2007 election that it commissioned a research company to find out why.
The first recommendation was that the PLP had to expand its support base. Greenberg Quinlan Rosher found that the PLP won the majority of its votes among the 60 and over age group. It also attracted a socio-economic group with less than a high school education. Over the years the PLP have successfully played on this group's ignorance. But obviously, time is eroding that base.
Also, the report said, the party had to cleanse itself of its scandal-ridden reputation. The party had to take "concrete actions that convey its seriousness about purging corruption from the party and state." The perception among voters, it said, was that the PLP was "more focused on doing things that benefit its own politicians than for people."
Another crucial point was Mr Perry Christie's leadership qualities. There is no disputing that Mr Christie is personally popular, but, said the report, "voters equate his leadership style with weakness." This had to change. To succeed Mr Christie had to be seen as a "forceful, decisive leader."
While prime minister, he appeared too weak and forgiving -- a man completely unable to purge his government of those causing the scandal. How much has he changed? On Monday he is offering the Bahamian people much of the same crew that caused him his problems from 2002 to 2007. Among the new faces are at least two, who if reports can be believed, could cause him future credibility problems.
Obviously, he has shown no strength here, and watching him on the campaign trail one gets the distinct impression that it is his deputy -- "Brave" Davis and not Perry Christie - who is the man in charge. This, again, if what we hear is true, could spell problems in the not too distant future. Many Bahamians are uneasy about the possibility of such a leadership switch.
And so "scandal" is a word that the PLP should quietly tip-toe around -- the day is coming when it will turn to bite them.
On Monday, voters have a choice between two men -- one a strong, leader who accomplishes much, the other, a man who has difficulty making decisions.
We recall a radio talk show many years ago when what sounded like the voice of an elderly Bahamian called the station to relate his experience. The discussion was about Mr Ingraham being a dictator and doing everything himself rather than leaving it up to his ministers. The caller came to the Prime Minister's defence. He said that Mr Ingraham was forced to move in when others failed to do their job. He then told his personal story.
He said he had what to him was a major problem. He took it to his MP, but got no satisfaction. He then went to the heads of several departments that were causing him grief, still nothing was settled. In desperation, he knocked on the door of the prime minister. He found it easier to open the PM's door than that of his own representative.
When he left, he said, he had all his answers. A few telephone calls were made and his problems were solved.
That is the kind of Prime Minister that Bahamians need - and, said my young friend who was concerned about his future under a PLP-led government, all Bahamians have to do is discard their PLP blinkers and see all the accomplishments made on their behalf in the past five years under an FNM government.
It is now up to the Bahamian people.
On Monday they will choose between a decisive leader, who will achieve much for the country, or an indecisive leader who will let others take the lead.
Bahamians hold their destiny in their own hands. We hope that they choose wisely.
May 04, 2012