Recklessness and deflection

 Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis during a drive-up rally on Grand Bahama on Friday. YONTALAY BOWE

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis continues to make us question his fitness to lead this nation.

He has called a general election during the worst wave of the pandemic while Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital are beyond capacity and knowing full well that political events leading up to polling dates in other countries were superspreader events that lead to more sickness, hospitalization and death.

We were hoping not to have to belabor the point about his bad decision, but we note that the conduct of the campaigns has been reckless and rash, as we feared would be the case.

Medical bodies are crying out, frustrated by the conduct of the two major political parties.

The Consultant Physicians Staff Association has decried the “absolutely irresponsible” actions of political parties on Nomination Day.

The Medical Association of The Bahamas issued a statement Sunday cautioning that campaign events could lead to a need to increase hospital capacity.

It warned that this is no time to let our guard down and participate in “such careless behavior”.

Yet, in an environment that health officials deem it too dangerous to allow in-person learning, we are allowing rallies, motorcades that gather people together on the backs of trucks and on the side of the road, and constituency office parties without proper enforcement by police.

To be clear, the PLP has acted equally as incautiously, feigning to care about public safety by canceling its drive-in rallies while drawing out hundreds of people for a Saturday parade in New Providence.

At the Free National Movement’s drive-in rally on Grand Bahama on Friday, people could be seen leaving cars and congregating, some with masks, others without.

Minnis insists that the country is in such a critical situation that emergency orders that allow him to rule by fiat must remain in place.

That he is also luring people out to rallies knowing full well that they will not follow the protocols is an indictment on his leadership.

What was said at Friday’s rally is a further indictment.

In the last week, allegations have surfaced over the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts at the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the Ministry of Public Works.

WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson has come under fire after it was revealed that WSC awarded a three-year $4,700 per month cleaning and maintenance contract to a company whose director has the same name as a woman Gibson identified as his fiancée.

Gibson claims he is the victim of a smear campaign.

Gibson must realize that failing to say that the woman who signed the contract was not his fiancée would naturally lead the public to believe she was.

We again invite him to deny it and answer whether he disclosed this relationship to WSC’s board and recused himself from any involvement with the award of the contract.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister has been asked to answer questions regarding a questionable contract issued by his ministry.

Bannister said he would not dignify any questions with a response.

However, he has denied nothing.

He also claimed to know of tens of millions in contracts corruptly awarded by the PLP, though his temptation to release them is tempered by the “high ideals and principled approach” that Bahamians expect of him.

That is a completely inadequate response.

If he knows of government misfeasance, he is duty-bound to turn the information over to the police and director of public prosecutions.

For his part, the prime minister, who appointed both men, has refused to directly address the issue.

Instead, he has decided to complement Gibson and Bannister’s faux outrage and amateurish deflection.

During his remarks at the rally, he urged Bahamians not to be “distracted” by the “foolishness” the PLP “and their people” are putting out.

“They are trying to distract you from the truth of who Brave is and who they are,” he said.

This is nonsense.

Philip Brave Davis does not enter into it.

And calling his name does not mitigate the fact that Minnis campaigned on stamping out corruption and ensuring complete transparency but now refuses to address a situation that impacts not only the reputations of some in his party who are running for re-election, but his own.

Were the same accusations leveled against members of the PLP, the FNM would have made it the singular focus of its campaign.

The prime minister’s commitment to transparency is laughable.

All Bahamians should be insulted by the refusal of our elected officials to account to the public.