By Dr. Hubert Minnis
Leader of the Opposition
In the remaining days of 2015, as crime continues to spiral out of control, the Prime Minister and his substantive Minister of National Security continue their typical and appalling silence. It has become a trend since 2012 that whenever there is a spike in crime and homicides in The Bahamas, both men completely disappear and renege on their solemn oaths to protect and safeguard its citizens. This unprecedented behavior can only be described as a dereliction of duty and an abdication of responsibility. The Minister of State for National Security, Senator Keith Bell, appears to find his voice during these trying times, citing successful government interventions and programs which do not exist, while concurrently throwing the Royal Bahamas Police Force directly under the bus. Incidentally, Senator Bell has still not provided us with the evidence of the PLP government’s successes in the fight against crime that he so eloquently touted during his 2015 budget contribution in the Senate.
With no integrity or shame, the Christie administration continues to accept the mandate to govern on a ‘solutions to crime’ platform, but blatantly backpedals from the responsibility for its complete failure. We cannot forget September of 2013, during a two week period where 20 people were shot or killed (including the brother of Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells). After a week of total silence, Prime Minister Christie emerged to give a 45 minute lecture on ‘Contemporary Constitutionalism’ at the British Colonial Hilton. Immediately following the lecture, when pressed about the recent spike in violence and murders, Mr. Christie claimed that he was too tired and had to go home. This nonchalant dismissal and insensitivity toward the safety and security of Bahamians is proof positive that crime is essentially a low priority for this Christie administration.
A few months ago, as it became increasingly clear that the murder record was in jeopardy of being surpassed, the Prime Minister announced that his government would roll-out a number of anti-crime initiatives and strategies “very soon”. Shortly thereafter, as the murder record became imminent, the Minister of National Security sought to hypocritically lecture the media on his disdain for anyone referencing the murder rate surpassing 127 as a record. Interestingly enough, he had no reservations in 2011 when the now infamous PLP billboards highlighted the cumulative number of murders under the Free National Movement government and stated emphatically that those murders were indeed a record. To date, Prime Minister Christie has yet to systematically outline or strategically implement any crime fighting measures as a New Year approaches. The Prime Minister continues, however, to announce that he will announce these initiatives in short order.
Since May of 2012, it is increasingly clear that the Christie administration’s so called ‘solution to crime’ platform was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. In desperation for power and the reins of government, the PLP pivoted to political expediency and campaign brownie points by blaming the FNM government for crime during 2007-2012. It is nothing short of insulting and duplicitous, that they now wish to place blame for crime on all other stakeholders in society, while absolving themselves of any responsibility. At the next election, the Bahamian people must hold them accountable for failing to deliver on the promises they made.
In 2017, a newly elected FNM government will introduce and implement programs and initiatives aimed at tackling the root causes of poverty and crime. Best practices will be adopted and specific populations will be targeted initially for the purpose of commencing with pilot programs. These initiatives will consist of full partnerships with all relevant stakeholders in society and will be evaluated regularly to ensure that targets and deliverables are being achieved. It is our belief and mandate that such programs be introduced to positively impact the populations they serve, and to ultimately benefit society as a whole.
The Free National Movement shares the pain of our fellow Bahamians who continue to live in fear of crime and criminals. We sympathize with the many victims of crime who are forever scarred and now live as virtual prisoners of their unfortunate experiences. We cannot stop the pain, but we can help to fight for a better future and a New and Better Bahamas. In the face of daunting challenges and seemingly impossible odds, we will not go quietly into that good night, and we will not surrender. With the commitment and help of our fellow Bahamians, we will return to a safer, more peaceful and prosperous Bahamas. WE NEED CHANGE.