Editorial: Out of the mouths

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There is a saying in our creole vernacular that describes perfectly that which was reported in our Daily Observer and Observer radio newscasts yesterday. It is, “Mout open, toary jump out!” It means that someone opened his or her mouth, and perhaps unwittingly, ‘spilled the beans,’ so to speak. The news item to which we refer is that of Theresa Goodwin’s report on the director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), Mr. Philmore Mullin. Quoting from the article, “The rebuilding process on Barbuda has slowed down significantly as officials from NODS work out the administrative details to clear the way for more donor agency contributions to the process.” According to the director of the agency, “We are in the process of sorting out the arrangements for the European Union funds to kick in and that will happen some time next year.” Hmmm!
Are we missing something here? Was it just us, or was there a very real sense that the pace of rebuilding was already excruciatingly slow, and if it were to go any slower, it would be at a complete standstill. Watching the pace of work in Barbuda is akin to watching paint dry, or worse, “watching grass grow.” There never seemed to be any sense of urgency on the part of the powers that be into helping the Barbudans get their lives back to some semblance of normalcy! And we submit that the neglect of Barbuda and the Barbudans grew exponentially dreadful after the Barbudans rejected the powers that be and their ‘go-fer’ at the March 21 polls. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the election this past year, a representative of the powers that be petulantly opened his mouth to ridicule and malign the Barbudans. He admitted to “pampering” them, and expressed relief that he no longer had to, as it were, ‘kiss up.’ The powers that be ended one post-election rant by promising the Barbudans harsh neglect. Sadly, that, . . . er, how can we say this delicately, ‘unfortunate‘ promise, unlike untold numbers of rosy, happy-talk promises, was kept.
Meanwhile, we are still scratching our heads at the Freudian slip from the good NODS director. He inadvertently revealed what the whole world already suspected – that not much will be happening in Barbuda, especially now that other donor agencies are winding down their operations there. Indeed, when he said that NODS was sorting out the European Union funding arrangements, and that this could happen “some time next year,” it did not inspire confidence. After all, that vague and airy timeline could be twelve months from now. And for traumatised Barbudans, some of whom are still living in tents without the most basic of services – electricity and water, that’s an eternity!
Of course, the jury is still out on the good director of disaster services (pun intended), because he is presiding over the unmitigated disaster that is the handling of the Barbuda rebuilding effort. He cannot be proud of his stewardship! Neither can those in high places! Unless, they really don’t care! Which brings us to our next point: Is the good director’s bungling of the rebuilding in Barbuda at the directive of the powers that be, or is it incompetence? Is this designed to frustrate and further demoralise the Barbudans? Whatever the verdict, we submit that history will not be kind!
The good director of disaster . . . services, opened his mouth with a damning revelation. He may as well have not opened it, because Barbudans will not notice a whit of difference between the tortoise-like pace of work before and after he opened same!

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