by The Scribe
Up through the years there has been a number of multi-millionaires who have passed through The Bahamas, some of them stopping to invest heavily and to assist here and there is social outreach programmes and in human resource development.
Interestingly, some of them, despite their largesse, have been poorly treated, taken advantage of, with a few few, fed up with the broad avenues ingratitude and greed, electing to pack their bags and head to more appreciative climates.
Stretching back to the 1950s there have been such as Alexis Nihon, who suffered bad treatment even at the hands of some he helped, and even before him Sir Harry Oakes, who actually became a murder statistic back in the early 1940s when the Duke of Windsor was governor.
There was the South African Sol Kerzner whose proposed investment was spurned by the original Progressive Liberal Party government, but who was welcomed by the Free National Movement administration in 1994 and today employs more than 8,000 Bahamians at his Atlantis resort on Paradise Island..
The list goes on – Robert Vesco, Harahji, thes Shah of Iran, and a few others who tasted the bitterness of Bahamian ingratitude.
Then nearly four decades ago there entered Peter Nygard.
He has shown a keen interest and invested handsomely in stem cell therapy, and even embarked on a project to establish a vast research centre in Grand Bahama, which would attract renowned scientists from across the globe.
That has landed him in much political hot water, but the relentless Scandinavian who has been a permanent resident since 1985, persists in a promotion he is convinced would be beneficial to millions.
We wonder if it is at all smart for the Free National Movement – Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition – officially to adopt a posture of antagonism against a prominent permanent resident because the Opposition believes that figure is finally supportive of the governing party.
That posture is particularly unwise because when the figure involved is the billionaire Peter Nygard, who has wronged nobody in The Bahamas, and who has over the years donated heavily to various sporting, church and social outreach programmes.
It appears that Peter Nygard has made a personal commitment to continue his broad philanthropy no matter what the criticism constantly swirling about him.
There is no question that Peter Nygard is perennially a flambouyant, controversial figure. In the newspaper business he is known as “good copy” – someone who makes headlines pretty much at every turn.
Last Monday, for example, when he hosted a news conference at his Nygard Cay estate to make a formal presentation to the organisers of the upcoming Acklins regatta, Nygard was able with ease also to expound on the benefits of the contentious stem cell therapy.
At the same time he used the occasion to lambast his arch enemy and next door Lyford Cay neighbour, another billionaire Louis Bacon, a Southerner of Raleigh, North Carolina.
The two have been feuding for years over this thing and the next, and as each issue arises it becomes clear that Louis Bacon, 54, is no match for the 71-year old master, Peter Nygard who is always sharp as a tack, obviously quite capable of defending himself against all comers.
Peter Nygard is evidently fully aware that especially of late he has become the centre of great political controversy. That too he dismisses with a proud and defiant wave of the hand, perhaps content that his positive actions far outweigh the slings and arrows of those who would attempt to use him as fodder for political mileage.
Yet over various political administrations in The Bahamas, stretching back to the Pindling season, Peter Nygard has made his particular mark in his contribution to the advancement of sports in this country.
In fact some time back a section of the media commented that over those years perhaps no other person has contributed more to the support and development of sports in The Bahamas.
This is a country on an urgent mission to inspire and motivate the young generations to develop into responsible citizens capable of being responsible leadership individuals, and one of the most effective disciplines in the preparation of those management and leadership activities is sports.
For more than two decades, even as Peter Nygard has successfully pursued his career as an outstanding fashion designer around the world, he has remained committed to the promotion and funding of various sporting disciplines, particularly among young Bahamians.
Recently a local sports publication perhaps most beautifully summed up the legacy of Peter Nygard as follows:
“Peter Nygard is an exceptional person person where he has committed to establishing The Bahamas as a dominant power in sports internationally. His financial support comes with his involvement as well.
“His compassion for The Bahamas and for our success resonates with his many contributions to all areas of The Bahamas’ growth whether sports or the environment. However, sports are his baby, as he is a very competitive person himself and a former athlete.”
It is true that in today’s Bahamas there are other millionaires and even billionaires, some of whom are daily enriched through their various investments and enterprises. Yet few come anywhere near to the status of Peter Nygard, who has made it clear that no stumbling block cast in his path will dull the edge of his generosity.
And so responsible individuals and institutions need to be especially careful and astute when they presume to cast public judgement on Peter Nygard. Thousands of Bahamians who have benefitted from his vast magnanimity are watching, and listening.