By ADRIAN GIBSON
Boom! Bang! Boom! The Valley Boys Junkanoo group rocked Bay and Shirley Streets yesterday and totally “mashed up” the scene. I felt so good on Boxing Day morning that I was doing the Kool PC (Prime Minister Perry Christie) shuffle and any other move that came to my musically possessed spirit. Congratulations to the best group in Junkanoo—the Valley Boys!
Frankly, I was impressed that my beloved Junkanoo group had dominated the Junkanoo scene with such authority that the ramblings around town immediately turned to who would be second. I thought that Prime Minister Perry Christie did a fantastic job, brought a lot of energy and perhaps increased the overall interest and viewership of parade. Without doubt, several YouTube snippets of Mr Christie’s performance—with hilarious commentary in the background—has gone viral. Kudos to him!
However, to go a step further, I didn’t think that the Shell Saxon Superstars came second. I thought that the One Family Warriors were clearly second best on Boxing Day and that their performance was only outshined by the Valley Boys. And that’s just being truthful! To this moment, considering the strength of One Family’s lap versus a weak lap from the Saxons, the One Family Warriors should have been deemed the runners-up in the Boxing Day parade. However, one Junkanoo’er also told me that the reason she thought that “Family” may have come third was because the Saxons had “better quality costumes and that that was their (One Family’s) downfall, although they (One Family) have the music, the energy and the endurance.”
To the Valley Boys, I say let’s do it one more time for ailing leader Winston “Gus” Cooper. I predict a two-peat during the New Year’s Day parade, where the Boys theme is “Old America”.
Why won’t the Prodigal Sons and Music Makers simply merge and thereby create a larger, more competitive unit? Every year it seems like no matter what these two groups do, they are fighting for fifth and sixth place and, frankly, I’ve seen some years where the Music Makers performance was off the chains? Is it due to judges’ bias? Quite honestly, I think that the leaders of both the Music Makers and Prodigal Sons should leave their egos aside and, if they really want to be seen as possible parade winners or at least serious contenders, they should merge their respective outfits or join one or two of the more established groups. Perhaps, a merger would be better and it would only be a matter of controlling the egos of the leadership—especially since we live in a culture where so many people fancy themselves as leaders and there are some so-called leaders who refuse to give up the mantle of leadership.
Whilst the Christie shuffle was fantastic at Boxing Day Junkanoo parade, another anxiously awaited shuffle would be that of the Cabinet. I think that it is time for Mr Christie to do his best Michael Jackson impersonation around the Cabinet table, shuffling certain ministers out of the Cabinet and re-positioning others. There are a few ministers who simply need a swift kick—with steel toed boots!
For the most part, there are many in the Cabinet who are simply under performing—generally a lackluster bunch, with a few bright sparks here and there. This column precedes my ministerial grading column which should be published in another two weeks…..I assure my readers that it will be hauntingly candid in much the same tenor as the previous grading columns.
And so, here’s my outlook on who should be shuffled and to where:
• Appoint current Executive Chairman at BEC Leslie Miller to the Cabinet to serve in the capacity of Minister of National Security. Mr Miller’s take no prisoners style and his honesty with the Bahamian people is welcomed by all and, frankly, is a breath of fresh air. A lot of persons have stated their faith in Leslie Miller as having the persona needed to fight the crime wave head-on. What’s more, Mr Miller has himself been a victim to crimes and lost a son in a gruesome murder and so, therefore, he is in touch with the reality of the effect of crime first-hand. I have full confidence that he would do everything that needs to be done. Whilst Dr Bernard Nottage should be removed as substantive minister, Keith Bell could remain as Minister of State—for the time being—as I believe that he would provide many creative ideas and approaches to crime and, frankly, with a go-getter like Mr Miller, that tandem could prove—in my mind—much more productive. That said, Mr Bell should also be considered for a substantive post as he has the wherewithal to be a productive minister—at National Security or another ministry.
• Fire Dr Danny Johnson. Yeah, I said it! The question is whether or not PM Christie has the guts to fire the son-in-law of Sir Lynden Pindling. I think that Dr Johnson should be dismissed due to a slew of disastrous productions and mishandling of his ministry of late—from the delays at Junkanoo to the disastrous challenges at CARIFTA to challenges with the sporting agencies, etcetera. If Mr Christie really, really, really feels that he must give Johnson a post—considering his relationship with Lady Pindling—it could be as the junior Minister of Works, which would be a demotion but would see Mr Johnson sitting around the Cabinet table nonetheless.
• Whilst many have criticised Fred Mitchell’s travelling, I think that he should remain as Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, the Prime Minister could remove immigration from his portfolio and perhaps make it a ministry unto itself, considering the challenges we’ve been having with illegal immigrants, work permit disputes and so on.
• Hope Strachan, the current Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, should be appointed portfolio minister in a new Ministry of Immigration
• Dr Perry Gomez should be moved from the Ministry of Health and re-appointed at the Ministry of Social Services. As it stands the Ministry of Health is too hands off and it appears that the health ministry is directionless. Unlike Goldilocks porridge in the Story of the Three Bears, Dr Gomez doesn’t appear to be hot or cold as it seems that he’s not there at all!
• Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis should be re-appointed at the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and Dr Bernard Nottage should be appointed as Minister of Works and Urban Development.
• I think that Obie Wilchcombe is doing a reasonable job at the Ministry of Tourism and should remain in his post.
• Allyson Maynard-Gibson should be removed from the Attorney General’s Office and appointed as the Minister of Financial Services, where she did a fairly good job in her previous stint holding that post. Khaalis Rolle could remain as her deputy.
Although it appears that not much peas and guinea corn has been produced during his tenure, Alfred Gray should remain as Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government. However, I think he should receive some help so either Exuma MP Anthony Moss should be promoted to a Minister of State within the Ministry where he already serves as Parliamentary Secretary (he’s won his seat three times, so give the poor chap something substantial) or FNM MP Edison Key should be brought in as a Parliamentary Secretary or a Minister of State (YES, I said it! I know everyone is thinking it anyhow).
• Frankly, either Glenys Hanna-Martin, who has performed steadily in her current ministry, could be re-appointed as Attorney General with current Junior Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Damien Gomez as her deputy or Mr Gomez could assume the substantive post and Mrs Hanna-Martin either remains at Transport or is reappointed elsewhere.
• Shane Gibson could remain in his current post, although he’s faced challenges with NIB over the last year. That said, I think he’s a reasonably good labour minister.
• The Ministry for Grand Bahama should fold. It is a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and has proven useless. Dr Michael Darville should be re-appointed as the Minister of Health.
• Like Danny Johnson, after some time in his post, I wonder what more Kenred Dorsett could bring to the table. I think that the Ministry of the Environment should be separated from Housing and given to Melanie Griffin. Once done, Mr Dorsett can either retain the Ministry of Housing and get on with building at least one house or the Prime Minister— after making his appointments—could then look at the chess table, see what’s left and give Mr Dorsett whatever spot is left over.
• Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald could remain in his post. Whilst there has been some back and forth between the Minister and the President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers of late, I think he has demonstrated that has the capacity.
• Ryan Pinder, the Minister of Financial Services and brilliant chap, should be either appointed in the Ministry of Finance as tax minister (or something), but given a notable post. However, he would likely have to be moved from Financial Services to accommodate Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
• Like Ryan Pinder, Michael Halkitis is perhaps one of the most intelligent, down-to-earth chaps sitting around the Cabinet table and should be promoted. I think that Prime Minister Christie should promote Halkitis to the substantive post as Minister of Finance, much as former PM Hubert Ingraham did with Sir William Allen. The Prime Minister—who really is the premier minister and the minister of all ministries—should not retain a specific portfolio, with the exception of perhaps also becoming the Minister of Junkanoo (I’m kidding, but I’m glad he’s a Valley Boy!)
• The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture should be given to Renward Wells. Now, whilst there are some folks who refer to Mr Wells as a “flamma”, I think he has the potential to better the current minister’s performance in his ministry. (And let me say, I have nothing personal against Dr Danny Johnson. We’ve met twice in the past—once at a radio station and on the ground floor of the Ministry of Education’s building which is shared with his ministry—and it’s always been cordial and respectful).
• What the heck does Cleola Hamilton know about Foreign Affairs? I think she should be reappointed as the Parliamentary Secretary in Social Services and, since the government seems likely to be expanding that portfolio with the onset of VAT and a predicted increase in poverty, another minister could serve as a minister of state to Dr Perry Gomez. I’ll leave the choice of that minister of state entirely up to Mr Christie and in this instance, I would proffer no recommendations. However, Dr Gomez, his yet-unnamed minister of state and Cleola Hamilton could serve as the triple towers of poverty mitigation (in the face of VAT)!
• For all those backbenchers and anyone else who I didn’t mention, well that perhaps is because as it stands, your performances in whatever role you may play in government is of no consequence and therefore it would be a waste of time for me to do so!
I look forward to 2014 and what the New Year brings. May God bless the Commonwealth of the Bahamas!
Happy New Year Bahamas!