By Allyson Maynard-Gibson
This morning I received very sad news of the passing of Wellington Smith, who was in charge of IT and the Registrar General’s Department (“RGD”). In a time of insuring the lives of key members of teams, Wellie (as we called him) met the definition of a “key man”.
I had the honour and pleasure of working closely with him in the private sector and when I was the Cabinet Minister with responsibility to RGD. He was a God fearing, wise, well dressed and soft spoken gentleman. As well was being a major loss to RGD, Wellie’s passing is a major loss to The Bahamas. Why do I say so?
Wellie, loved working at RGD; he realized that RGD is a key government agency; and, he was passionate about realizing, for people, the difference that RGD, fully utilizing the power of IT, could make in their lives.
He was determined to ensure that Family Islanders could get certified copies of birth and death certificates, and other documents, at the Administrator’s Office, on the Island, rather than coming to Nassau for a certified copy. When the program was launched in San Salvador, Wellie and Darian Creary, worked around the clock to assure reliable internet at the Administrator’s Office. On launch day, a certified copy of a birth certificate was requested and issued in less than 5 minutes. I can still see Wellie comforting the lady who was weeping. She was so happy that she would no longer have to go to Nassau for this essential service and told me that she remembered the time when people would have to go to Nassau, on a boat, for this service.
When live birth registration was launched in Andros, again, Wellie and Darian worked 24/7 to assure reliable internet connection at the Administrator’s Office in North Andros. Wellie was beaming with pride as the first baby, just a few weeks old, was registered. He gave the health and education officials his cell number so that they could call him directly. He told them, “of course we must work together to make a difference in people’s lives”.
Some public servants are reluctant to work closely with the private sector, their clients. Wellie did not have that problem. When complete online incorporation of companies was launched, Wellie worked very closely with the private sector. This is worthy of special note because the private sector is not a monolith. The private sector includes lawyers and accountants; small, medium and large entrepreneurs; banks and trust companies; and many others. Each has a different perspective. Also, there are regulators, with yet another perspective. Wellie, who was hamstrung by the inability to purchase up to date hardware and software, made this important first step happen. All of this while also attending to day to day IT requirements at RGD.
Maritime Marriages are successful; copyrights registrations were brought up to date; morticians able to register deaths online; marriage officers able to register marriages online; a plan designed to deliver, stamp, record, index and redeliver conveyances and deeds entirely online; and more; also involved Wellie, his vision and focus. He did this and lots more concurrently. And, I never saw him flustered nor heard him raise his voice. Equally, he mentored people and put them forward to enjoy the credit and limelight.
While doing all of this, where did he find time to pour his musical talent into his church choir, which he loved as much as RGD?
Wellington Smith, patriot, I can attest that every day you gave 100%. You served The Bahamas, Bahamians and residents to the best of your ability. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude.
May you rest in peace and rise in glory.
10th November, 2020.