By Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis,
MP and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition
The Bahamas is a country where we embrace the commonly held belief that with hard work and determination, each and every citizen can achieve success. It is a paradise overflowing with human and natural resources, beauty and potential. In the midst of our positives however, we are often faced with challenges that seek to impede our collective progress and national development. Many of these challenges are far more complex and impactful than those faced over the last forty years. Nevertheless, as a proud and resilient people, we boldly confront these challenges with a sense of duty and resourcefulness. We view them not as impediments, but as opportunities for growth, progress and positive change. As we seek to confront and remedy them, the methods we employ will require innovation, creativity and a sense of purpose. We must marshal our collective human resources and values, not only for combating these challenges, but as the foundation for building a New and Better Bahamas.
This New Bahamas must be a place where we seek to bridge gaps in economic disparities. It is a given, that personal responsibility, hard work and determination within a meritocracy are indicators of potential success. However, it is no secret that the income and resource gap in society, between the rich and the rest continues to widen. Therefore, we must acknowledge that systemic conditions favoring the wealthy ensure that very few of the ‘rest’ achieve their full economic potential. A redistribution of wealth is not the solution. We can, however, seek to remove the inequities and barriers in our economic system, that prevent many Bahamians from accessing resources and opportunities capable of taking them to the next level. A New Bahamas under a Minnis administration will make the elimination of economic disparities a top priority.
This New Bahamas must willingly embrace the freedom of access to any and all information outside the purview of national security interests. In a 21st century Bahamas, the deepening of our democracy must coexist with the ability of our citizenry to review, analyze and evaluate the decisions we make, and the work we undertake in their name and on their behalf. A nation cannot claim to embrace or deepen democracy when its government intentionally withholds or stalls the dissemination of information on matters of national significance and with national ramifications.
This renewed demand for governmental openness and transparency is more than a visceral call for our governments and government officials to be honest and accountable. The socio-political and social-cultural implications of doing so demonstrate true leadership in a country where, in many instances, corrupt practices are the norm. Should government lead this effort, we will acquire the moral authority to effectively police the institutions and systems which govern our society. In addition, we will lead by example to a citizenry we expect to respect and obey the law and order we administrate and manage. For far too long, a culture of secrecy in government has existed where longstanding traditions of transparency and openness should have been the operating norm. In 2017, a Free National Movement government will ensure that it complies with both the spirit and intent of the enabling freedom of information legislation.
The New Bahamas must willingly embrace an enlightened and progressive leadership. This type of leadership simply requires leading by example. Leaders in this category are those who reside in a place of principle and inspire others to join them. They do what is right even when it is unpopular. The building of an honest, open society requires strong leaders who possess these qualities. The Free National Movement will present such leaders who embody these qualities to the Bahamian people as candidates in the next general election. With your endorsement and support, they will stand with me to form the next Government of The Bahamas. We will conduct your affairs with the highest standards of ethics and integrity. Moreover, we will ensure that you experience governance that positively impacts your lives and your livelihood.
Unfortunately, this New Bahamas is not a place where the aforementioned development and progress miraculously happens overnight. It requires dedication and hard work in order to create an equal opportunity society and a New and Better Bahamas. So, we must unite around our common values and the common good of all. As this New Year unfolds, we continue to be plagued with an economy in decline, a bloody holiday season, and the additional tax burden associated with the upcoming implementation of NHI. In spite of this instability, I call on my fellow Bahamians to strengthen their resolve and to hold firm. As a praying people, we know that the “race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to the men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to us all.”
I give you my solemn promise that upon coming to office, a new Free National Movement government will adopt a corporate approach to the governance of our Commonwealth. We will be fiscally responsible, intolerant of corruption, transparent in the execution of our duties, and report regularly to the Bahamian people on the affairs of government.
As I constantly travel the Commonwealth, you, the Bahamian people, communicate to me an uncompromising desire to see real, substantive change in our systems and institutions. You expect and demand a better society. You also deserve a better society and a new and improved Bahamas. The Free National Movement will partner with you to accomplish these goals. With the stakes high and Bahamians ready for change, failure is no option and compromise is a tool of mediocrity. As we press with the greatest urgency and excitement toward the mark of a New Bahamas, it is incumbent upon us, your leaders, to make progress and not excuses. As such, I am committed to this New Bahamas and I am ready to lead the charge.
God bless you and God bless The Commonwealth of The Bahamas!