EDITOR, The Tribune
Two referenda have failed in The Bahamas under the last Progressive Liberal Party administration of former Prime Minister Perry Christie: the constitutional referendum in 2016 and the gaming referendum in 2013. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ plan to implement term limits for the office of prime minister will almost certainly succeed in a referendum. I believe Minnis wants ten years or two terms for the prime minister.
In the US, the president can only serve up to two terms. However, the US is a republic, unlike The Bahamas, whose governmental system is tied to the Westminster system of England, which precludes term limits for the prime minister. The prime minister, a virtual dictator, can serve for life if his party is successful at every election. Take a look at the father of the modern Bahamas, the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the country’s first prime minister. He led The Bahamas from 1967 to 1992 – 25 years. Pindling was one of the longest serving heads of state in the western hemisphere. He led The Bahamas to majority rule in 1967 and to independence in 1973.
He brought about sweeping reforms in education and in healthcare. Under Pindling, the black Bahamian middle-class was created. Pindling did plenty in modernising the country. However, I believe he overstayed his tenure by at least 10 years. Some may even argue 15 years. Whichever the case might be, I believe Pindling should’ve stepped down in 1982. He could have groomed a young Hubert Ingraham as his successor.
At that time, Ingraham was the PLP MP for North Abaco. Ingraham also served as national chairman of the PLP in 1977. Had Ingraham become prime minister in 1982, The Bahamas would’ve been spared the Nation for Sale debacle during the mid-1980s. The drug crisis wouldn’t have blossomed into what it did during that time. By 1977, Pindling was pretty much exhausted of meaningful ideas in forwarding The Bahamas. I believe he had served his purpose between 1967-1977.
The term limit initiative by the Free National Movement should be wholeheartedly embraced by all Bahamians of all political persuasions. Power has a tendency of corrupting those who hold onto it for too long. The country can attest to this.
A term limit will prevent another Pindling. The Bahamas of today will not tolerate another prime minister serving for five consecutive terms.
November 11, 2018