By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
Democracy should never be taken for granted, since there are always those who choose to operate outside of basic commonsense rules that promote order, honesty, integrity and transparency. This is particularly required when it comes to leadership roles in serving the people. Whenever there are instances in any country, large or small, where such values are compromised to meet certain objectives, the essential pillars for democratic principles are weakened.
This should never be allowed to happen without an attempt to address developments that indicate irregularities in management of the people’s business. Those who hold positions of power and authority should never lose sight that they are mandated as gatekeepers whose remit is to do the right thing in the interest of the people.
However, in the political arena, it is not uncommon for violations to occur in maintaining the highest standards of truth and accountability.
Without the watchful eyes of the people, and the free press, a great deal of issues concerning truth and accountability would slip into the shadows of time, and that would create conditions where democracy is reduced to a word with no real meaning.
Anyone who values truth, decency and transparency would object to that path. This can be a sensitive area when political allegiances accompanied by deep emotions are entangled with the ability to assess matters without bias, and lines are drawn over who is right or wrong.
The Auditor-General’s Office, which is charged with keeping a microscopic watch on the people’s purse while monitoring various government transactions, is duty-bound to highlight any matter where it is deemed that accountability and rules were infringed upon. That is their task and it should be fully respected. Democracy thrives on truth and accountability, and the freedom to ensure that those principles are protected. But to be effective, The Auditor-General’s Office needs much more resources, particularly qualified professional practitioners.
Governments in democratic jurisdictions worldwide encounter situations from time to time where truth and accountability become significant issues, and trying to right the ship can be daunting task when no one is willing to give ground in deciding where the blame lies.
Political wounds can run deep and there will be people who, no matter what facts emerge, will not shift their allegiances.
I am particularly impressed with our new Prime Minister’s stated commitment to accountability and transparency in the governance of our country. and his deputy and incoming Minister of Finance’s promise of fiscal discipline. Equally important, it ought to be a priority of this new government to assure or otherwise, that no member of the previous government violated his fiduciary obligation to the Bahamian people or used his position to enrich himself at the expense of the people. A lot of nasty stuff where alleged during the run up to the general elections, and members of the outgoing government deserve to how their names cleared or otherwise let the chips fall where they may.
All of us have an obligation to give the new administration our full support. That is not to say that we don’t call them out when we believe they are moving in a direction that is not in the best interest of our citizenry.