Be not distracted

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At any moment, the bell will ring to announce the sprint to the finish line in our general election, the day of reckoning, if you will. Of course, whenever He of a High Place makes the long-awaited announcement, the United Progressive Party (UPP) will be good and ready. The UPP campaigners have been doing the homework in the various constituencies, these past four years, keeping their fingers on the pulses of the people, and their ears to the ground. We’re talking about the many meetings held in many of the Constituencies, never mind social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. The Business Pull-Ups, the rallies, the town hall meetings, and so on and so forth, have all created an air of excitement and expectancy. The people of Antigua and Barbuda have been stifled and suffocated under this deadweight Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration, and we are ready for a change. Hark the cries of the people, “Come, thou long expected . . . .

Conversely, the incumbency is dilly-dallying, trying desperately to hold off the moment of truth, working feverishly to fix potholes, pay overdue benefits and remunerations to pensioners, mothers who have given birth, and contractors. It is a heavy lift. And let us not forget the intolerable water situation, the inexorably slow process in making the Jolly Beach workers whole, and the neglected LIAT workers. Neither ought we to forget the disgraceful mess at Clarevue Hospital and His Majesty’s Prison. It is a shame, and we MUST let them pay a heavy price at the polls for their indifference and mismanagement and neglect.

And talking about mismanagement and neglect! It was with a great deal of shock and horror that we learned last week that the refrigeration unit at the storage facility for cadavers at the hospital had been broken, and that it was overrun with flies, and a foul stench. Sigh! What a disrespect to the deceased! At a time when they should be resting in peace, their bodies are being desecrated in a most callous and heartless way. Is there no one managing the morgue? Should there not be some constant oversight of the unit, to make sure that it functions twenty-four/seven? What, in the name of Hades is going on? We submit that the rot and decay at the morgue is a metaphor for ABLP and its stewardship of our fair State, these past four-plus years – nothing but despair, disease, decay and death. Clearly, something stinks in the State of Denmark.

Folks, let us not be distracted from our sacred duty to set right the floundering Ship of State, by any of the political stunts from the incumbency. The much-heralded arrival of the Antigua Airways charter flight from Nigeria at 8:30 AM on Independence Day is one of those stunts. It will be hailed as a major economic boon for our economy, and Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, who is scheduled to meet the passengers on its inaugural flight, will sing THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS. He of a High Place will order a Te Deum. But not so fast! Many sober-minded Antiguans and Barbudans are looking beneath the surface of the hoopla, and they have questions. For example, how sustainable is this trans-Atlantic flight venture? Why is the government of Antigua and Barbuda getting twenty percent of the profits, even though it is not putting a single dime into the effort? And who is this Marvelous Mike? And would the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda not be better served by focusing on resuscitating intra-regional travel (See LIAT), before . . .uh . . . spreading our wings some 7, 600km across the ocean? And what are the financial interests in this venture by ranking members of this administration? Enquiring minds would like to know.

The thing is that this flight, scheduled to have a big political impact, what with its arrival right smack in the middle of our celebrations on Independence Day, is nothing more than a cheap political ploy to distract us from the plethora of failures by this administration. This is supposed to be a giant feel-good moment (The flight might even fly over the parade grounds during the parade) designed to seduce us, and make us forget the past four years of mistreatment and abuse. Be NOT SEDUCED! BE NOT DISTRACTED!

Our treasury is bare, the financial geniuses in high places have run our finances into the ground. They will be looking for bailouts from many of the deep-pocketed businessmen in our fair State who have traditionally supported their campaigns. Perhaps one reason for the long delay in calling the election is that some of their former financial backers are no longer willing to put any more money in their campaign war chest. Many erstwhile backers see the ABLP as a spent force. Let us be guided accordingly.

The big, silly campaign bus will soon take to the streets. There will be the equally silly free concert with international performers. Embattled incumbent Representatives will become like pests, constantly knocking on doors and begging and beseeching, and doing what He of a High Place recently did in his Constituency, in broad daylight. They will sweet-talk and kiss-up, trying to make nice to the people that they once ignored. They will dust off the tired, old ABLP playbook – cussing and maligning those who oppose them, and spreading false and malicious stories. Their goons will try to disrupt rallies and the sort. Remember, they are being paid to put on red shirts, and wink-up on wine-up on cue, and create mischief, much as they did in St Mary’s South, this past weekend.  Folks, be not sidetracked by any of it! Stay focused. Stay woke, as Dr Cleon Athill, the UPP candidate for St Paul, often admonishes.

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