||Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM
Remarks by Honorable Dr. Hubert A. Minnis Leader of the Free National Movement at Torchbearers Youth Association Convention Friday February 3, 2017 “A Time of Peril and Promise”
Mr. Chairman and Executives of the Free National Movement;
Madam President, Executives and Members of the Torchbearers;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I congratulate the Torchbearers Youth Association on this inspiring Convention, under the theme: “A Future Worth Voting For”. We meet at a time of great peril, but also a time of considerable promise for our Bahamaland. The promise for our Bahamas is a new direction with a new FNM government.
We are the only party which has the team to effectively oppose and defeat the PLP at the upcoming general election. We are the only party opposed to the PLP, who can mount an effective government.
The Free National Movement is a party of new talent and faces, along with men and women of experience. This election is a clear contest between the FNM and the PLP. Never mind the noise from other directions.
The FNM has a legacy of good governance. We have an impressive record of fulfilling our promises. Tonight, I will offer a number of proposals and policies to help young Bahamians realize their potential and promise. Tonight, I will offer, “A Future Worth Voting For”.
The great peril that confronts our country is that the PLP has brought The Bahamas to its knees over the past five years. There is an overwhelming danger that with five more years, The Bahamas will be an even worse living nightmare under the PLP.
Our economy may be beyond repair. Our dollar may be devalued. We may have to go to the International Monetary Fund to be bailed out of the mess the PLP and Perry Christie created.
Civil servants will have to worry about their salaries being paid on time and whether their pensions will be at risk. More hundreds of millions of our VAT money will be wasted, with no explanation as to where the money really gone.
This week’s firebomb at the Magistrate’s Court Complex on South Street off Nassau Street is a sign of the troubling times under the PLP. If that Court Complex had burned down, our criminal justice system would have been crippled. There would be an even greater crisis of law and order. That firebomb was an attack on the Bahamian state. It is another example of the spread of criminality on the PLP’s watch.
Perry Christie once said:
“ … No Government anywhere in the world has the right to brag about anything if it fails to deliver on the most fundamental need that every individual and every family has: the need to feel safe and secure in your own home and on your own streets and on your own job.”
Christie went on to say:
“If you can’t deliver that, if you can’t provide safety and security and peace of mind, you can have no bragging rights about anything else.”
Christie is the biggest hypocrite in The Bahamas. Having failed miserably to make The Bahamas safer and more secure, he has, according to his own words, no right to brag about anything.
Before the FNM came to office in 1992 our democracy was at great risk and in peril. It is in peril and at risk again today under Perry Christie’s corrupt and undemocratic PLP.
Once again, the FNM must save The Bahamas from the PLP. We are the only political party that can rescue the country.
You saw what happened at the PLP Convention. Emperor Christie acted like the Dictator-in-Chief. If Emperor Christie and the PLP get five more years they will unleash one of the greatest periods of victimization in the modern Bahamas. They will have no restraint. It will be payback time. And they will party big-time on the sinking ship.
Many young Bahamians do not know, or do not remember, that the government had a monopoly on television and radio prior to 1992. No private broadcast stations were allowed. The FNM had great difficulty getting its message out over the airwaves. For one convention we had to broadcast from outside of The Bahamas and beam the message into the country. After 1992, the FNM freed the broadcast media. We ushered in a new era of freedom and democracy.
Today, the PLP is taking us backward. They brazenly denied the Torchbearers broadcast time on ZNS TV. This is just like the old days under Sir Lynden Pindling. ZNS should not call itself “The People’s Station”, as they like to advertise. If it’s “The People’s Station”, paid for by taxpayers, then the people should have access to ZNS. Under the PLP, it’s never the people’s time at ZNS.
I imagine that the order to shut down access for the FNM and the Torchbearers came from the top. This is what happens in countries run by dictators. Those who are democrats would not do such a thing. ZNS should be called: The Propaganda Station.
PLPs believe that they alone own this country. They believe that they are entitled to do whatever they please. We need to remind the PLP: The song, “This Land is Your Land”, does not say that this land belongs to the PLP.
It says: “This land was made for you and me.”
Thousands of you throughout this country are unemployed.
Unemployment among youth, ages 15 to 24, is at a staggering 25 percent.
One in every four people, ages15 to 24, is without work.
This is a full quarter of young people in this age group.
This is more than an economic crisis.
It is a moral crisis.
It is a social crisis of great proportion.
It is a personal and family crisis for thousands of Bahamians.
Joblessness and unemployment are partially measured in national statistics.
Long-term unemployment is also measured in boredom, isolation, a loss of hope, feelings of unworthiness, idle behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, temptation to easy money, and in so many other ways.
My Fellow Bahamians:
Many thousands of young people do not have the skills or tools necessary to enter the job market or to start their own enterprise. These skills include basic competence in math and English.
There are also skills lacking in new areas of economic growth and potential, such as in STEM Education, which stands for: science, technology, engineering and math. We need to significantly improve the economic and work skills of young people. But there is also a lack of basic life and social skills such as discipline, being on time, basic courtesies and manners, and community involvement. Our task is to improve and develop the skills of citizenship, civility and community service in our young people.
The level of gang violence and membership in the country is frightening. There is too much school violence. Quite a number of high school and junior high students regularly bring weapons to school. Just this week we heard of a seventh-grade student who reportedly brought a gun to school. Gangs are growing up our children, where they learn skills no young people should have, such as how to use a gun or how to steal.
Sadly, when young people look to the PLP, they find no hope and no guidance. The leadership of the PLP has closed their ears and eyes, and their hearts, to the needs and aspirations of young Bahamians.
The PLP failed to double the national investment in education as they promised. Instead of investing in our young people, they wasted millions upon millions of our VAT money on lavish living and travel, and on contracts for cronies and consultants galore. They spent over $20 million on Carnival. Imagine how much further ahead we would be if these wasted millions were instead invested in our young people.
The FNM has a different vision for our youth and young adults. We have a bold and comprehensive vision. When I look at young Bahamians, I do not primarily see problems and challenges. Instead, I first see capabilities and opportunities.
In addition to helping to equip young Bahamians with the skills and tools they need for the world of work and commerce, I want to help instill in them something just as important. I want to instill in them confidence, hope and the value of work and enterprise.
There is a skills gap in terms of the skills our young people need to be productive and contributing citizens. But there is also a confidence gap that will in part be filled by the leaders of this country investing in the great talent pool of young people who desperately need our guidance.
The youth strategy that the FNM will embark on has four main pillars.
These pillars are:
1. Education, Training and Skills Development;
2. Youth Development;
3. Social Inclusion and Intervention; and
4. Entrepreneurship and Enterprise.
No. 1: Education, Training and Skills Development:
We intend, over time, to transform teaching and learning in the government-operated school system with an emphasis on hands-on and experiential learning.
The FNM is also giving consideration to designated learning academies or magnet high schools in areas such as: STEM Education, Culture, Arts and the Creative Economy, and Business, Entrepreneurship and Tourism.
No. 2: Youth Development and Social Inclusion & Intervention
We are reviewing innovative programs for youth development and social intervention. The social crisis and social decay we face today has deep roots, especially from the drug era of the 1980s, aided and abetted by the Pindling era and the PLP, which turned a blind-eye to drug trafficking and mass corruption.
The Pindling government turned a blind-eye as our social fabric was ripped apart and as many of our sons and daughters became addicted to crack cocaine and fast and easy money. The effects of that era are still manifested in our country.
Unfortunately, Perry Christie, in his own words, was willing to swim through vomit to get back to the PLP of that era. The stench of that era is still with us. We know that crime has many causes and responses.
One response must be to intervene before certain at-risk youth turn to gangs, and a life of crime and violence. In preparing our 2017 Manifesto, we looked to our 2012 Manifesto for programs that are still of great relevance.
Accordingly, our youth development and social intervention strategy may include programs such as a Youth Development Centre and a Summer School for Boys. We will also use a broad range of creative arts as pathways to guide more of our young people toward healthy, productive and meaningful lives.
Our task is also one of social inclusion. We must ensure that those with disabilities, and certain offenders and ex-offenders can also use their gifts to build good lives.
I trained as a medical doctor. But I have also spent much of my life in the world of business. The same manner in which The Bahamas helped me to fulfill many of my dreams; I want to do the same for a new generation of young people.
No. 3: Entrepreneurship and Enterprise
One of our main plans for young people is in the area of entrepreneurship and enterprise. I want to take those millions spent on Carnival and invest those funds to empower a new generation of young entrepreneurs.
I’ve been told about a young man who goes to various offices selling pasta, fruit, chicken and crab salad, all of which are said to be very tasty. I admire and applaud such hard work. The FNM wants to help young people like him to utilize their talents and to fulfill their dreams. We will launch a major youth entrepreneurship program that will help to develop the skills of thousands of young entrepreneurs.
It is our mission to inspire and to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs. We will help to equip thousands with business and management skills, such as how to save and handle money; how to re-invest and scale-up their business; how to market their products and services. We will help them to make their businesses sustainable. We will help them with capital and equipment.
For example, we could help the young man who makes the salads, to invest in a refrigerated truck. We can help him with the kitchen supplies and storage capacity he needs to grow his business. Maybe in time he wants to have a food truck, and better utilize his smart phone or computer to take orders. With greater success, he may hire more employees. He may need to have uniforms designed and manufactured, another potential small enterprise for a young Bahamian.
My vision is to build a strong network between the University of the Bahamas, BTVI and other agencies; all working together to equip thousands of young people with the skills, tools, confidence and work habits needed to launch scores of new small businesses and microenterprises.
Over time, the BTVI campus will be transformed into a laboratory for innovation, with enhanced equipment to help train this new generation of entrepreneurs.
A part of my mission is to help create a new world of work and opportunity for thousands of young Bahamians. Young people in Mayaguana and Andros may create cooperatives to sell baked crab in New Providence.
This can be a lucrative enterprise for young people, who want to remain or return to a Family Island. Young people on Cat Island, Abaco and Eleuthera might launch heritage tours and other tourism-related enterprises. Young people on Grand Bahama, New Providence and throughout The Bahamas may become entrepreneurs producing goods in areas such as crafts, souvenirs, jewelry, designer clothing, footwear, bush teas, scented oils and candles, and other products
A new generation of young people may become smallholding farmers producing herbs and spices, vegetables, organic meats and poultry, and fruit we rarely see nowadays such as the Bahamian guava.
Someone told me recently that they don’t remember the last time they had guava duff made from Bahamian guavas.
The FNM will not make wild and outrageous promises which cannot be kept, like the PLP did last time, and will do again during this election. But I promise you this: we will put our shoulders to the wheel and we will turn our Bahamian ship of state in a different direction -- the right direction.
The challenges which face The Bahamas in general, and young people in particular, cannot be fully addressed in the first 100 days of a new government nor in the first year. But let us begin anew, with a new vision and concrete ideas that can help transform despair into hope.
The days of peril under the PLP can and will be turned into a time of promise under the FNM.
This I pledge on behalf of the next government of The Bahamas.
This I pledge to young Bahamians throughout our Commonwealth.
Let us continue to ask for God’s guidance and blessings.
Bahamians everywhere as I speak, at this very moment the new Free National Movement’s Website is being launched. You can find it now at ourfnm.org and when you log on you will find our Manifesto 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to introduce the CHANGE TEAM as of tonight. Be assured we will contest every seat.
Thank you and good evening.
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