Oswald Brown Writes
By OSWALD T. BROWN
It is quite clear that the opposition FNM believes that the PLP government’s decision not to renew the contracts of some Urban Renewal workers is a hot-button issue from which they can gain some political mileage. Obviously, their objective is to mislead the Bahamian people into believing that the government is victimizing these individuals.
As I noted when the campaign to condemn the government for the sensible decision it made first surfaced on Facebook, given the fact that Urban Renewal 2.0 is an integral component of the new PLP government’s plans to address the country’s current high crime rate, it is vitally important that persons are put in place to implement aspects of the program who believe in the merits of the program and will work assiduously to see that it accomplishes what it is supposed to accomplish.
Because we live in an extremely polarized political society, FNM supporters on Facebook, especially contributors to a hate-filled blog called the “No Spin Zone,” have made it quite clear that their NUMBER ONE mission since their FNM’s defeat is to do all that they can to humiliate the PLP and see to it that its programs to restore good governance to this country fail.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of the current employees of the scaled-down, revised version of the Urban Renewal program operated under the former FNM government are die-hard FNM supporters. This being the case, it makes perfect sense for the PLP to hire persons who share the party’s philosophy and hopes for Urban Renewal 2.0. Indeed, the PLP government would have been courting disaster if it allowed employees of Urban Renewal who are supporters of the FNM to continue working with the program. What’s more, they were not fired; their contracts, which are due to expire at the end of June, were simply not renewed.
The newspapers are now reporting that the FNM plans to stage protests in both New Providence and Freeport against the government’s decision.
Former Labour Minister Dion Foulkes is quoted in The Tribune as saying: “I think there is going to be public outcry. These families are going to protest. I know they are organising protests in Grand Bahama and in New Providence with their children and members of their family. I believe the public will be outraged about this decision and I believe that Perry Christie as Prime Minister will reverse it…”
What nonsense is this?
I have always considered Dion Foulkes to be my “brother” because of the tremendous influence his father, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, has had on my professional and personal life, so it pains me a bit to say that he is talking utter rubbish.
Of course, he and others who could not muster up the courage to oppose the dictatorial policies of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham that are responsible for the poor state of this country’s economy and the pain and suffering that Bahamians generally had to endure under the former FNM government over the past five years now believe that they can hoodwink and bamboozle Bahamians into believing that they care for their welfare. But the likelihood that Prime Minister Christie will reverse this very wise decision is less than nil.
To Dion’s credit, I may add, he has found a cause that I think he thinks will revive his once very promising political career. In my view, he is still one of the few original members of the FNM with strong leadership credentials, having exhibited this throughout his rise in the party from his tenure as president of the Torchbearers Association, the youth arm of the FNM. But for some reason or the other, Dion never was able to garner the kind of support in the constituencies he represented to support his ultimate ambition to become leader of the FNM and possibly one day Prime Minister. That prospect should have been classified as “a dream deferred” after he and other original FNMs allowed Ingraham to take full control of the FNM and transform it into the failed Third Force Party that Ingraham formed after he was kicked out of the PLP in 1984.
If he is inclined to be honest, Foulkes knows full well that had the shoe been on the other foot, the FNM would not give a second thought to keeping employees at Urban Renewal that did not support the FNM’s plans for that program. As a matter of fact, past history in dealing with matters of this nature shows that Ingraham would not have waited until the contracts expired; he would have fired them on May 8, the day after the general election.
Another factor that may have prompted Foulkes to “jump the gun,” so to speak, and not allow FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis to make the announcement about the protests is that Foulkes is a smart enough politician to realize that Dr. Minnis does not exhibit the kind of bulldog political tenacity as his predecessor Ingraham and Foulkes is trying to position himself to remain a viable option for the FNM leadership sometime in the future. Of course, there are persistent rumours that Ingraham intends to change his mind and not resign as MP for North Abaco, and if that happens then Dr. Minnis can rest assured that he will not be in the leadership position by the time the next election is announced.
Even now, we can’t rule out the possibility that it is Ingraham who is orchestrating the planned protests against the decision by the PLP not to renew the contracts of some current Urban Renewal workers. There are few politicians in this country’s history who have been able to engender the kind of Svengalian support among party followers, to the extent that like “little children” they started referring to him as “Papa.” My advice to Dr. Minnis is this: Watch your back.