DNA On The Resignation of Reece Chipman

* Resignation is no surprise

* Exit is culmination of poor FNM governance

* MP has taken a stand against oppressive system

* FNM plagued by corruption and conflicts of interest

* PM is leading a sinking ship

The recent resignation of Reece Chipman from the Free National Movement (FNM) came as no surprise to the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and many Bahamians.

The Member of Parliament for Centreville who was responsible for unseating the former leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and former Prime Minister Perry Christie had been frustrated with a government that lacks integrity, ethics and transparency.

It is obvious that Mr. Chipman's resignation is a culmination of years of poor and ineffective leadership under a Prime Minister that does not believe he ought to be accountable to the Bahamian people. After being unceremoniously removed as Chairman of the Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation (AMMC) without any logical reason or explanation, the Centreville MP has stood up against the injustice and conflicts of interest within the FNM.

Bahamians recall his resignation from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Assembly due to the suppression of this important committee by the Speaker under the FNM administration. He has witnessed first-hand what many Bahamians have been subjected to by a government that caters to special interest groups to the detriment of the masses.

All eyes are now on the remaining MPs within the FNM to see whether they have any ounce of conviction left to leave a government plagued by corruption, ineptitude and arrogance. We salute Mr. Chipman for his courage and choosing to take a stand against an oppressive and uncaring government. The PM is leading a sinking ship and the FNM's days in office are numbered.

Omar B. Smith

Chairman

Democratic National Alliance

Stop the political drama on Hurricane Dorian

* Government must accept constructive criticisms

* Arrogance and grandstanding not helpful

* Knee-jerk reactions and adhoc decisions compounding issues

* PM’s focus on elections is misplaced and insensitive

More than one month after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, it is obvious that the Prime Minister and his crew have learned little from the government’s failures and shortcomings. While the focus should have been on increasing our resilience as a nation, the PM led the House of Assembly in a session that shamefully reduced the parliamentary caucus to a circus while threatening to use unparliamentary language.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) urged the government to develop a comprehensive restoration plan rather than engage in knee-jerk reactions and making adhoc decisions. We took the government to task on the mismanagement of the immediate response and evacuation. More importantly, the government was admonished to uphold the rule of law in addressing immigration matters. The PM’s dramatic kicking down of a door to suggest that he is now serious about dealing with shantytowns was lame and amounted to nothing more than posturing.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that politics must be put aside and we must all work together to rebuild our devastated islands. The hypocrisy of the PM who criticized the PLP’s response to Hurricane Matthew as Leader of the Official Opposition is astonishing. However, it is his divisive actions and words following the storm that is more concerning.

While Bahamians are suffering and many are trying to put pieces of their lives back together, the PM’s focus at this time is on securing a second term in office. He is counting his proverbial eggs before they hatch forgetting that the general elections is the last thing on the minds of many who have lost loved ones and all that they possessed. For his shameless comments in the People’s House this week, this Prime Minister will go down in history as perhaps the most divisive, polarizing and vindictive leader whose only selfish motivation is being Prime Minister. Prime Minister Minnis arrogantly governs as if it is all about him and his band of merryman having little or no regard for opposition parties and their leadership, Independents and sadly supporters of his very own FNM Party.

We urge the government to stop playing lip service to collaboration and unifying the Bahamian people. The PM must accept constructive criticisms from the people knowing that our collective efforts are required to rebuild a nation scarred by the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. This is not the time for arrogance and grandstanding. It is time to get on with the business of the Bahamian people and present a comprehensive disaster risk management plan for the country. The DNA will present its plan in the coming days and we are hopeful that they will accept our recommendations.

The time to weigh the FNM and PLP in the balance for the manner in which they have governed our nation will come at the polls. The PM can rest assured that the people will send a sound and clear message at that time. In the meantime, we say: do what you were elected to do and govern in the best interest of the Bahamian people. Spare us the drama and pontification.

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance

Government actions worsen immigration fiasco

*Conflicting statements from government representatives

*Undocumented immigrants tipped off by announcement

*Many have integrated and blended into society

*FNM Administration mismanaged evacuation process

*Government urged to answer pertinent questions

The government seems to be acting on the cogent messages and questions within the recent press release issued by the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) entitled Government must address immigration quandary. This is apparent from the news headlines on the repatriation of undocumented shelter migrants, work permit holders without employment and enforcement of our immigration laws. Regrettably, the damage may have already been done due to initial actions, inactions and negligence.

It appears that the government has now had an epiphany that the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas ought to be enforced. There have been varying and contradicting statements from the Prime Minister, Attorney General, Minister of Immigration, Senator, Department of Immigration and a government-appointed coordinator of hurricane relief efforts in Abaco within a one-week period. This demonstrates the lack of coordination, clear direction and message discipline within the Minnis-led administration.

Bahamians were puzzled by the announcement on repatriation of shelter migrants simply because common sense dictates that an announcement that undocumented immigrants in shelters will be repatriated would result in an exodus by persons wishing to escape deportation. Further, it was unlikely that undocumented immigrants from Abaco and Grand Bahama would have gone to shelters under the control and security of the government in the first place. Individuals that have broken our immigration laws are more likely to have integrated and blended into the general population following their relocation to New Providence and other islands.

The DNA maintains that the government mismanaged the evacuation and relocation process following the passage of Hurricane Dorian and has exacerbated a challenging immigration dilemma for our nation. We repeat the following unanswered questions to the government. Can they provide the Bahamian people with an update on the status of persons granted a temporary status following the 2010 Haiti Earthquake? The Minister of Immigration stated on national radio that undocumented migrants will be able to apply for legal status. Can the government clarify how it foresees undocumented migrants who are in The Bahamas illegally can apply for legal status?

How will the government differentiate from undocumented immigrants displaced by Hurricane Dorian that benefitted from the leniency from all other undocumented migrants that were not impacted by the storm? The temporary suspension of the repatriation policy by the government has now created a conundrum with major implications. Can the government also confirm to the Bahamian people how many persons were registered in shelters in the aftermath of Dorian, how many persons now remain and whether shelters have closed due to mass exodus of evacuees? Can the government confirm where these evacuees have gone and whether any have returned to Abaco or Grand Bahama?

The Minister of Immigration had stated on national radio that unemployed work permit holders from Abaco and Grand Bahama will be able to seek employment elsewhere. This would have meant that these individuals would join the unemployed labor force in New Providence and other islands. The AG and Department of Immigration have communicated a different position. What are we to believe and how will this stance impact employed Bahamians and the high unemployment rate? We would like to know how various government ministries and agencies such as education, health, national security, social services and the National Insurance Board will also be impacted.

The FNM administration has once again created a quagmire of epic proportions due to a lack of planning and an adhoc approach to governance. Our nation is faced today with myriad challenges relating to climate change, energy and immigration among others. These are serious times that require serious leaders with vision, integrity, courage and conviction. Unfortunately, we have lacked and are lacking such leaders in FNM and PLP administrations over the years. The DNA will usher in change that puts the best interest of Bahamians ahead of all others.

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance

Government must address immigration quandary  

*  DNA empathetic but upholds rule of law

*  PM’s 2017 directive still fresh in Bahamians’ minds

*  Government’s position on immigration woes unclear

*  Mismanagement of relocation worsens dilemma

*  Hurricane Dorian not the same as 2010 Earthquake

 The Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for immigration have made numerous pronouncements on the fate of undocumented immigrants in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Many Bahamians vividly recall the directive issued by the Prime Minister almost two years ago on October 11, 2017 warning all illegal migrants that they have until December 31, 2017 to leave the country after which they will be “aggressively pursued and deported”. That directive proved to be nothing more than grandstanding and posturing as there were no new initiatives, actions or policy aimed at changing the existing protocols.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is concerned that despite the recent announcements, it remains unclear what the government intends to do to address an illegal migration problem that has festered under successive administrations. The current administration has failed to articulate a coherent and comprehensive immigration policy but has exacerbated an already bad state of affairs.  This Minnis-led administration has shown no true commitment toward addressing this generational issue that has impacted the very landscape of The Bahamas.

The DNA is empathetic to the plight of all those impacted by Hurricane Dorian and we continue to pray for them. While we appreciate that the magnitude of the disaster led the government toward leniency in the enforcement of immigration laws in the immediate aftermath of the storm, we believe that the government’s decision should have been balanced with a structured approach to the identification and recording of all undocumented migrants on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, we have seen a mass exodus of inhabitants of the Abacos and Grand Bahama to New Providence with a few relocating to other family islands. The documentation process has been deficient, and it is difficult to determine undocumented migrants from the impacted islands from other undocumented migrants. While some are currently being housed in shelters, others have integrated and blended with the general population. In essence, the government has dropped the ball and the illegal migration problem has been compounded by poor management and a failure to plan.

 The government has suspended deportations in the impacted areas providing the Bahamian people with no timeline for a reinstatement of the policy. Some are citing the government’s policy position taken in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. The peculiar case of Hurricane Dorian must be distinguished from that event. Bahamians would recall that the FNM administration at the time made the controversial decision to release those detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre and offered temporary legal status to Haitians at the time. The decision in 2010 was unpopular in several quarters and revealed disagreements between the then Prime Minister, the Minister of Immigration and Minister of State for Immigration.  It should be clear that in this case (unlike the 2010 earthquake), islands of The Bahamas were the ones impacted by Hurricane Dorian and not the countries to which undocumented immigrants would have been deported to. To date, we are not aware of the current status of the individuals who benefitted from this amnesty.

We note that the Immigration Minister has indicated that undocumented migrants must apply for legal status to avoid deportation. He further indicated that persons with work permits tied to specific employers may seek employment elsewhere with their existing work permit and could not state when repatriations will commence for undocumented migrants from Grand Bahama and Abaco; many of whom are now in New Providence. 

Can the Minister explain to the Bahamian people how can an undocumented migrant who is in The Bahamas illegally apply for legal status? Will he also articulate how his Ministry intends to differentiate undocumented migrants from Hurricane Dorian impacted islands from other undocumented migrants in The Bahamas? Has the government carefully considered its decision to have unemployed work permit holders from Abaco and Grand Bahama join the unemployed labor force in New Providence and other islands? What impact does the government believe this will have on displacing Bahamians and increasing the unemployment rate? How will various government ministries including education, health, national security and social services adapt to the increase in population on New Providence? Does the government have a plan and timelines for its numerous announcements on immigration? The DNA submits that until the government can answer these questions, they should desist from pontification and uttering headline-seeking political rhetoric.

The Bahamas has always been empathetic toward the plight of economic migrants; however, the DNA is adamant that the rule of law must be upheld. Our government must govern in the best interest of the Bahamian people and not be complicit in compounding an issue that has served as a generational challenge. We call for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform which secures our borders, addresses loopholes in our laws and enforce stiff penalties for those who break our laws. The time for playing political football with this matter is over. This generation of Bahamians will not allow any administration governing today to continue the perpetuation of a cycle which continues to undermine the rule of law and present socio-economic challenges to the detriment and disadvantage of Bahamians.

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance

 

Hurricane Dorian: Transparency, accountability and vision is needed

  • Government has fumbled and compounded the issue

  • PM’s defensive and insensitive commentary not helpful

  • New ministry shows visionless and reactionary governance

  • Lay out total financial costs of political appointments

  • Too many red flags for the Bahamian people to ignore

It has been over three weeks since Hurricane Dorian blew through The Bahamas. In its wake, the storm has left behind a trail of death and destruction; upending the lives of thousands of Bahamians and doing untold damage to the country’s second and third largest economies.

As our nation works to peel back the layers of this unimaginable tragedy, the men and women tasked with managing this crisis are compounding the many issues that have arisen and will continue to arise. For more than three weeks, we have watched this administration fumble its way through the recovery efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, we witnessed first-hand, delays in evacuating traumatized Bahamians from the affected islands, followed by the ineffective distribution of aid supplies meant for Dorian survivors. Even worse still, at a time when Bahamians looked to their government for hope in the face of a national travesty, the country and the world watched in horror as the Prime Minister offered only defensive and insensitive commentary regarding his government's plans for the impacted islands and their residents.

The recent creation of a new government ministry meant to manage disaster preparedness and reconstruction and the appointment of Iram Lewis as the Minister of State is symbolic of the same visionless and reactionary governance we have come to expect from this administration.

At a time when the government should be honing in on a strategy which focuses on providing real relief in the short, medium and long term, the Minnis administration has chosen to waste scarce public resources - which in this case can and should be going to Bahamians in need - to fund more government bureaucracy and red tape.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) on behalf of the Bahamian people, demand that the government fully lays out the financial costs associated with the establishment of this ministry, including any salaries and or stipends awarded to the various political appointees. This should be added to existing costs for appointees who already hold roles in other government departments, ministries and authorities.  

We note that the necessary safeguards and plans to implement a culture of transparency particularly as it relates to the millions of dollars in monetary and in-kind donations already given to the relief effort as well as millions allocated for loans and other financial guarantees was notably absent from the PM’s announcement.

The PM has been known for “talking the talk” on transparency and accountability in governance but has failed miserably to “walk the walk” on this issue. In fact, the track record of successive governments on the issue of financial transparency has left much to be desired. The DNA and Bahamians everywhere must be assured that the government will be made to account for the effective and fair distribution of any and all donations in addition to ensuring that allocated government funds do not magically wind up in the bank accounts of government cronies and political supporters.

The DNA is not oblivious to the impact that a catastrophe of this magnitude can have on a nation like ours. We are fully aware of the challenges facing the government. However, we cannot and should not ignore red flags when we see them.  Now more than ever, the decisions of our government must consider the long-term ramifications for all the islands of The Bahamas. Now more than ever we must work to ensure that the decisions we make today, also make sense for the generations who will read about Dorian’s impact in the history books.

It is our collective hope that our nation’s leader and his advisors can safely navigate these treacherous waters and guide our beautiful Bahamaland into an era of safety security and prosperity.

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance

DNA Responds to Speaker’s Comments on China and Southeast Bahamas

DNA Responds to Speaker’s Comments on China and Southeast Bahamas

In Westminster protocol, an appointed Speaker should ordinarily resign from the Party for which he/she is affiliated with and should refrain from speaking on political matters inclusive of foreign policy matters, personally or otherwise. The only business Mr. Halson Moultrie should be concerned about is presiding over the business of the House of Assembly and of his constituency - Nassau Village, for which we hear very little if anything from him.