Minister of State for Lands and Local Government the Hon. Byran Woodside attended the retirement luncheon for Assistant Administrator Francita Neely at the Court House in Mangrove Cay, Andros, Wednesday, January 13. Pictured from left: Member of Parliament, South Andros, Picewell Forbes; Mrs Neely’s husband Lofton Neely; Mrs Neely and Mr Woodside.
NASSAU, Bahamas — Minister of State for Lands and Local Government the Hon Byran Woodside lauded Assistant Family Island Administrator Francita Neely as a “Local government pioneer” during a retirement luncheon held in her honour at the Court House in Mangrove Cay, Andros, Wednesday, January 13.
“She is indeed one of our Local Government pioneers and it is on the shoulders of persons like Mrs Neely that the majority of us in this room stand, who now have the mandate to move Local Government forward,” Minister Woodside said.
Minister Woodside said there are four main mandates Local Government leaders have to discharge.
He said they must provide efficient and effective non partisan leadership in governance in communities; motivate and inspire young persons to be all they can be; work effectively in the community in advancing local governance and orderly development and advise the central government on matters of concern to communities, and the transparent collection and disbursement of Government revenue and resources.
“The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation, and the national Government must depend on public officers to overcome those obstacles that would hinder the provision of adequate service to local communities. Public officers who do not provide adequate service to our local communities will negatively impact the nation’s growth and development,” he said.
Also in attendance were the Member of Parliament for South Andros Picewell Forbes; Family Island Administrator Gary Knowles; Chief Councillor, Mangrove Cay, Lynwood Knowles; and several administrators.
Mr Woodside commended Mrs Neely for her more than 40 years of “loyal, dedicated and committed service” to the country.
“Mrs Neely’s story of transformation and achievement in Family Island development is one that is worth repeating, especially to those young, bright and aspiring employees in the public service,” he said.
“Her career was definitely not always a ‘bed of roses’. She had her challenges, but by fortitude, dedication and commitment she has been able to assist in the transformation of our system of Local Government from pre to post independence,” Mr. Woodside added.
He told Mangrove Cay residents that during Mrs Neely’s stint as Assistant Administrator, she exemplified those traits that make a Family Island Administrator not only a leader in the community, but a “true representative of the Government” in the country.
“The qualities and characteristics exhibited by Francita Neely are those we hope to see emulated by all public officers: service above self, honesty, dependability, humility and dignity,” Mr Woodside said.
In his remarks, Mr Forbes noted that it was not easy for Mrs Neely in performing her duties.
“Many times you served as counsellor, passport officer, judge, and jury, but through it all you exhibited integrity and honesty,” Mr. Forbes said.
He added that she did things her way with “class and effervescence”.
Mrs. Neely said she had been given the task of collecting Government revenue from 1968 to the present.
“I can safely say that during her 41 years in the public service, there has never been a time when anyone had to investigate or to say that one cent was short,”
Mrs. Neely, who began and ended her public service career in Mangrove Cay, said she was so proud to have touched so many lives.
“I am proud that you as Mangrovians can be proud of me; I am your home girl, I am your daughter of the soil; I have done everything in my power that I could do to help you in my capacity,” Mrs. Neely said.
She also promised to continue to make herself available and to give good advice, whether professional or private, to anyone in the community.
“If you want any good advice please feel free to call on me; I am still your humble servant,” Mrs. Neely said.
Craftsman Ralph Moxey presents Francita Neely, retired Assistant Administrator with a model boat.