Dr. Hubert Minnis: The Way Forward in A New Bahamas

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Dr. Hubert Minnis - Leader of The Opposition
Dr. Hubert Minnis – Leader of The Opposition

Fellow Bahamians, as a New Year approaches, I look forward to the future development of our Nation. As I gaze upon the horizon, I see an FNM government committed to delivering ownership and opportunities for Bahamians in every facet of society.

I envision a Bahamian economy that is progressively stimulated, not just through increased job opportunities, but also through increased Bahamian ownership and entrepreneurship. More and more Bahamians must OWN a piece of this New Bahamas. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to develop a more empowering economic vision, and shepherd its execution into a reality that Bahamians can capitalize upon and experience.

In addition, the systems and institutions which govern our everyday lives must be strategically revamped to be more responsive, results-oriented and underscored by best practices. Our Banking, Investments, Education, Health and other sectors while seemingly challenged, are truly ripe with opportunities for wholesome and substantive change. With a profound sense of commitment and duty, I am proud to lead this charge for change! Ownership – Opportunity – Empowerment – Expansion – Growth for all Bahamians willing and ready to seize the moment and work toward success! We can no longer operate from the perspective that a sound and viable economic development and investment policy is one dominated by foreign interests. A progressive and empowering economic development and investment policy in the New Bahamas will be one that not only welcomes practical foreign investments, but encourages and incentivizes full Bahamian participation, partnerships and ownership as well.

In the New Bahamas, gone will be the days when the wealthy and wealthy companies increase record profits and accumulate wealth with impunity. Also gone are the days when they did so on the backs of the common men and women who remained hopelessly in poverty. The economic playing field must be leveled to ensure that Bahamians with vision, creativity and determination can have full and unfettered access to entrepeneurial and investment opportunities.

A caring government embraces any and every opportunity to help and empower its people. As Leader of the FNM and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, I fully understand this concept; so with your assistance, WE, TOGETHER, can accomplish the task of transforming our country into a New and Better Bahamas.

As Leaders, we must educate and inform the electorate as to our intentions BEFORE entering into agreements, particularly those involving massive foreign investments and developments. We understand that in many instances, investments and developments of such scale and magnitude require an enormous utilization of our most precious and vital natural and human resources as part of the agreement. ALL previous governments have engaged in the practice of entering into such agreements with huge national implications, without public consultation. The FNM Government under my leadership, in the New Bahamas, will discontinue this impractical, historical practice!

Despite focusing on the economic situation in our country thus far, I am also keenly aware of the necessity of a serious commitment to adequately address the inefficiencies and lack of progress in our Healthcare and Educational systems once and for all. In the New Bahamas, I will be ready and willing to lead this charge. An FNM government, under my leadership, will execute a comprehensive action plan to effect sweeping change throughout the archipelago. I am asking my fellow Bahamians to join me in repeating the often used mantras that “Change Is Good!””Change is inevitable!” I reaffirm to you my commitment, that I am against the notion that ‘politics as usual’ is enough to build this New and Better Bahamas. I assure you, that the methods and practices utilized in the first forty years of Nationhood will be revolutionized and ultimately transformed as we boldly reorder our national priorities and re-position our Nation to achieve developed country status.

We are less than two years away from the moment when that all-important demographic—youth—young men and women, aged 16-35 will determine who will lead the charge for change on their behalf. As a Leader who embraces and utilizes the next generation, I am a firm believer that the time has come to involve more young people in the national development conversation and into the decision-making process of government as well.

Our Bahamian youth are an essential component for ushering in the transformation and evolution of our Commonwealth from the methods and practices of the past. It is my fervent desire to facilitate and deepen this empowerment of our youth as they assist with ushering in the realization of this new NATION called “NEW GENERATION BAHAMAS”. To those youth who feel disengaged and neglected by society, we invite you to partner with us to realize your full potential and dreams and learn to channel any rage and anger into productive action to better our Commonwealth.

The New Bahamas must involve accountability at all levels of Government. If we as a society expect citizens to be fully accountable and responsible for their actions, then it must correspond equally that our leaders be accountable and responsible as well. To realize our potential and greatness as a nation, we must have transparency in governance, with open and free access to information for our citizens to evaluate and critique the decisions we make on their behalf. With this extra layer of citizen scrutiny through the freedom of information, our leaders will likely make better decisions. As such, we must be prepared to allow our citizens to view and question both our successes and our failures. A better informed and educated citizenry will also make better decisions in their lives and ultimately make greater contributions to the country on its quest for a New and Better Bahamas. As Leader of the FNM, I am proud of our fight for honest and accountable leadership and government. Our party continues to subscribe to and uphold its legacy of transparent governance. However, it is disgraceful to watch the level of resistance from Prime Minister Christie and his Cabinet colleagues as they continue to stall The Freedom of Information Act from becoming LAW.

Each and every citizen must pause and take a moment from the daily struggle to ask “what am I doing with my life? How do I pursue my passion and lead a purposeful and productive life? If we are able to answer these questions honestly and with a sense of duty and altruism, we will certainly be on the path to finding and living out our true purpose.

A visionary Leader and Statesman must always be willing to address the challenges of our nation. It is clear that the status quo of rising through the ranks of government or in a society based on political affiliation, who-you-know, or sexual favours is both unacceptable and counter-productive to progress. The New and Better Bahamas must be a meritocracy where one’s qualifications, experience, talents and skills determines ones achievements and success. It is extremely unfortunate that historically, we have not protested loudly enough on the issue of political victimization and we have not held those in government to a higher standard of leadership that demands the same. The 21st century Bahamian will not tolerate discrimination or victimization. Therefore, the instrument of government must not be used as a tool to reward or punish on the basis of one’s political affiliation, persuasion or preference.

I am committed to building a Bahamas where boys and girls, men and women can “March On”, hand in hand, on equal footing, building the EQUAL OPPORTINITY BAHAMAS. I envision a Bahamas, where women receive equal pay as men for equal work performed. It remains unacceptable and unjust that the Bahamian woman of 2015 is paid considerably less for the same job performed as her male counterparts. In the FNM, women are an important part in the process of national development and national building. Long before assuming leadership of this great party, I was taught to love, respect and honor women. These are characteristics that are deeply entrenched in who I am as a Man, a Son, a Husband, a Father, a Physician and Healer. Bahamian women have and continue to play significant and meaningful roles in my life and personal development. I, like many other successful men, was raised by a single woman. In that regard, I am a true testament of the sacrifice and tremendous responsibility women have shouldered in the development of this Nation.

As Leader of the Free National Movement, I’m proud to stand on our party’s history of diversity. Diversity is more than a buzz word; our history is one where we all recognize and accept that while we are a mosaic of peoples and cultures— we are all— Bahamians.

I say to ALL BAHAMIANS, young and old, rich and poor, citizens of ALL COLOURS, NOW IS THE TIME to fulfil the dream of a Bahamas built upon equality and justice. A nation where opportunity is afforded to all and each individual is only constrained by his or her willingness to work hard to achieve personal goals and dreams.

WE WANT TO RESTORE A SPIRIT OF HOPE IN OUR NATION. WE WANT TO RESTORE YOUR FAITH IN THE GOODNESS OF THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE.

WE WANT TO CHANGE THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW DONE IN THIS COUNTRY-ELIMINATE PETTY BICKERING AND MUDSLINGING.

RESTORE IN OUR PEOPLE A SENSE OF FAMILY AND CHARITY-TRULY BECOME OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER.

CLOSE THIS GAP BETWEEN THE RICH AND POOR IN OUR NATION. LET’S MAKE IT TRULY BETTER IN THE BAHAMAS FOR ALL BAHAMIANS, NOT JUST THE PRIVILEDGED FEW.