The winner of the Barbuda Council’s by-election has suggested that political leaders should introduce social programmes to improve the living standards of citizens as opposed to providing monetary gifts.
Asha Frank, who won the seat for the opposition Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), explained that she was unable to gather evidence of the rumoured gift-giving leading up to the recent elections, but said residents informed her that they had received much warranted assistance.
“I do agree with the fact that you have to help people, but there are policies that can be made in government to assist people. Do not do it during your campaign because it will look as if you are trying to persuade the person to vote,” Frank said.
The newcomer to the political arena called upon her colleagues to self-examine incentives since elected policymakers such as themselves can initiate programmes during their tenure in government.
“You have to hold me accountable for the two years, that is why you are putting me in power,” she said on OBSERVER AM yesterday. “In that time, what have I done to help you as an individual, not [just] during the election campaign.”
Frank was responding to comments made by Barbuda MP Arthur Nibb, a day earlier on the same programme. Nibbs told listeners on the previous day, that the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) does not attempt to bribe voters if it gives them gifts during an election campaign.
Nibbs said that his party is “known for being generous to people and to assist them [because] it is a need that you’re meeting.”
Following Nibbs’ denial of the bribery claims, Frank said, “They make excuses, and you are not going to make a difference if you make an excuse [when] you allow things like that to happen. You have to say, ‘No, it is wrong’ …and if you say [that] and you actually start to campaign against what is wrong, then people will start to feel guilty about doing it.”
The BPM member said that politicians cannot justify distributing gifts to voters especially in the days and weeks leading up to elections.
“I was very careful people were asking me for things as I was campaigning. Even if it meant that I lost votes, [I do not care] that I lost those votes because I don’t want to give people things during the election campaign,” Frank said.
Members of the public who followed her successful campaign in Monday’s by-election called in to the radio programme yesterday and congratulated the former teacher.