My fellow citizens, today we celebrate an event that marked a turning point in our nation’s history. Majority Rule is the culmination of years of struggles, sacrifices and agitation by those who came before us. From the rebellion of slaves led by Pompey to the Burma Road Riot, the General Strike and Women’s Suffrage Movement; the fight for liberation, freedom, equality and independence was embraced by Bahamians of yesteryears.
Majority Rule opened the door to social and economic revolution for the masses and broke the back of political oppression and corruption by oligarchs who ruled over the majority in a Bahamas plagued by discrimination, segregation, classism and inequality. While we have seen some progress in race relations, we have substituted one group of oppressors with another group of oppressors. Hence, we are moving backwards and not forward.
The question from this generation of Bahamians is this: Does the majority rule or do we have a majority being ruled? The essence of majority rule is that the voices of the majority are heard and reflected in all policies or decisions made in The Bahamas. The Bahamian people were supposed to take control of our own destiny and chart the course for our nation. We elect political leaders to serve and not rule over us but are they serving us?
Many Bahamians cannot afford to purchase a house or find good paying jobs. Young people are forced to live at home with their parents while many older persons cannot qualify for a mortgage. We have had administrations who have implemented taxes that hurt the common man and the masses while the rich get a free ride. We live during a time when gas is high, food is high, rent is high, school fees are high, and your salaries are not going up. When the people protest against increased taxes, they are ignored but a letter from special interest groups causes the government to reverse its policies. Can we expect average Bahamians to celebrate majority rule when they are marginalized in their own country and treated as second class citizens? The Bahamian Dream is slipping away from our people, but the DNA is determined to change this.
The DNA is poised and ready to usher in real change for our nation. A reform of our education system will produce better outcomes as we ensure that no child is left behind. We will ensure that every child leaves the school system knowing how to read, write and count by focusing on the fundamentals of academics, reading, writing and arithmetic while also enhancing the talents of our youth in athletics, the arts, agriculture, special needs, technology, character building and a learn to swim program across the archipelago.
Our plans for healthcare reform will ensure that all Bahamians across the archipelago have access to affordable state-of-the-art healthcare with modernized hospitals located on the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Exuma as well as fully equipped clinics on every island. We will leverage technology to make quality healthcare and healthy lifestyles a reality for all.
We must and will ensure that a strong safety net within the social services department and the National Insurance Board will meet the needs of the less fortunate, those who fall on hard times, the elderly, the disabled and pensioners in our nation, ensuring that we are building a society based on access and inclusion.
Our immigration reform agenda will address the decades long issue of citizenship by birth via a constitutional referendum on Article 7; we will create an equitable and transparent path to citizenship and strengthen our armed forces to protect our borders.
The greatest resource of these beautiful islands are the people of this great Commonwealth. This is why, we believe that our uniformed branches, healthcare workers and teachers whose priority is to prepare the next generation for leadership and governance must be respected and adequately compensated. We must respect, honor and appreciate the people who guard our heritage and secure our nation’s future. In the same vein, care and respect for our civil servants are crucial to a strong public service which is the backbone for service delivery to our citizens, residents and investors. This is essential to build a strong and robust economy. As we observe this historical event, we must never forget that the trade union movement was crucial in bringing forth Majority Rule and has been a driving and dominant factor for an improved quality of life and work environment for Bahamian workers. Therefore, we must denounce tactics of union busting and promote good faith negotiations between workers, the government and businesses.
Bahamians, as we mark this 54th anniversary of the attainment of Majority rule, no longer can it be business as usual in our nation. Successive administrations have paid lip service to the diversification of the Bahamian economy for far too long. We must develop and implement a strategic plan for the entire archipelago which as a matter of priority includes the rebuild and restoration of the Abacos, Grand Bahama and Ragged Island. The transformative and revolutionary platform of the DNA envisions the development and expansion of the blue, orange and green economies. A Bahamas where we are exploiting the natural resources of our air, land and sea for the chief benefit of Bahamians. This is why we have stood at the forefront and with the Bahamian people and activists fighting for our natural resources.
We envision a Bahamas in which we can feed ourselves, discover new inventions and expand our tourism product. Our platform for the development of the blue economy will empower our people and protect our environment. Our vision is to see culture flourish and the artists of this nation thrive in music, dance, film, comedy, art, videography, photography, software development and so much more. The Orange Economy will be a game changer for our nation and create an ecosystem for a young generation of Bahamians to flourish. Our goal is to put The Bahamas on the path to a green society which promotes and incorporates alternative and sustainable energy to reduce the cost of living in our society and address the risks posed by climate change.
Since 1967, successive administrations have not been accountable or transparent. The incidence of cronyism, nepotism and poor accounting of our nation's finances have led to a trust deficit between the people and government. Then there is the stain on our political process due to the lack of campaign finance legislation. This has caused political leaders to govern not in the best interest of the Bahamian people but rather for their financiers and special interest groups. It is sad that no administration since Independence in 1973 has implemented campaign finance reform, real freedom of information legislation or an ombudsman. A DNA-led government will implement a good governance platform that will make it very difficult for any administration to be unaccountable to the Bahamian people. We will deepen our democracy by separating from our colonial vestiges and transition our system of government to a Constitutional & Presidential Republic. We will usher in real Independence and empowerment for our people.
My fellow Bahamians, the road to majority rule was a long and challenging one. The blood sweat and tears of our forefathers and foremothers delivered the first part of the Quiet Revolution presenting opportunities we enjoy today. The time has come for our generation to take on the mantle to bring about the second part of the Quiet Revolution which delivers economic empowerment for our people. Bahamians of all creed, gender, race, religion and political persuasion must unite in a fight for the soul of our nation.
The DNA will reignite the spirit of Majority Rule and usher in the New Bahamas in which the majority truly rules and not a select few. With the help of Almighty God, we shall overcome and take our people over this Jordan into the promised land. Our greatest days are ahead of us and the glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former. Happy Majority Rule Day and may God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Democratic National Alliance