No, we’re not talking about the Trump administration, never mind that that administration is the mother of shifting the blame and passing the buck. For example, this past weekend, amidst controversy about his seeming tepid response to the coronavirus outbreak, the good president went into his patented defensive mode and blamed . . . you guessed it, the Democrats. According to Trump, the Democrats were looking to find fault and score cheap political points in an election year; they were downplaying the positives and highlighting the negatives.
To be sure, it would be difficult, if not damn near impossible, to find one solitary instance where the Trump administration manfully accepted responsibility and blame for anything, be it ever so miniscule. Indeed, so fixated is the Trump administration on burnishing its record and deflecting criticism and blame, that it never passes up an opportunity to heap opprobrium on its other scapegoat – the Obama administration, with his ubiquitous line, whenever he does something that he feels should have been done by a previous administration, “Quite frankly, it should have been done a long time ago.”
In like manner, this uncannily Trumpesque administration here in Antigua and Barbuda has become quite adept at passing the blame and weasling out of accepting responsibility for any boo-boo. Permit us to explain. This administration has as much as blamed the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the entity that approved, and is ostensibly overseeing, the 13.9 million pounds of UK grant money for the rehabilitation of the Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway, for the inordinate delay and the Stygian horror wrought by the appropriately monikered, Bahamas Hot Mess (BHM). With BHM taking its sweet time, and doing whatever the hell it feels like, the thinking in many official and unofficial circles is that there was not enough oversight. Minister Weston of the Ministry of Works has heaped scorn and invective on BHM, perhaps in an attempt to absolve the administration of any blame. Mr. Dennis Cudjoe, the Project Implementation Management Unit (PIMU) Coordinator, has in the past, blamed the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), (they went to arbitration when asking for an extension of their time to fiddle while car tires and car parts burned) the weather, and the hectic road usage. Some in high places in this administration have also blamed the weather and a lack of aggregates. The Ministry of Works has blamed, well . . . You get the point. Nobody is man enough to accept responsibility.
Then there is the matter of the disgraceful neglect of the Hannah Thomas Hospital in Barbuda, post-Hurricane Irma. This shameless administration blamed onerous contractor-vetting conditions laid down by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). And as per the bewildering shortage of money to do most things in Barbuda after the hurricane, never mind the outpouring of international assistance for the recovery effort, this administration used the excuse that a goodly portion of the pledges were not forthcoming, and many donors welshed on their promises.
As per the filthy mineral water flowing from our faucets (when the unreliable water does flow), this administration blamed a chemical reaction by the pipes to the desalinated water. And as per the specious pledge to “fix” our water woes in fourteen days, this administration wiggled out of that by saying that it never used the word “fix,” but rather, “improve,” whatever the hell that means to this feckless administration. This parsing of words/word games, reminds us of former US President Bill Clinton, who, in attempting to answer about his sexual peccadilloes during the Monica Lewinsky hearings, said with a straight face, “It depends on what the meaning of the word, ‘Is’ is.” Good grief! Needless to say Bill Clinton and, in recent times, Donald Trump, would be proud of this administration.
Interestingly, we’d been hearing reports from contractors who’d done work in Barbuda post- Hurricane Irma, that they were being stiffed by the government. Naturally, because of all the chest-beating and high-fiving from this administration – that this was the putative land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold, that failure to pay contractors was anathema. Of course, we are being facetious, sarcastic. You see, this administration has made a virtue out of stiffing contractors, workers, pensioners, ‘tout moun.’ Entire companies have struggled to pay their own workers because this government is so broke and cannot find the wherewithal to deliver on monies owed them.
Anyway, it turns out that the longsuffering contractors were not lying on this given-to-welching-on-debts administration. Take a peek at its own admission, as per the Cabinet notes of February 26, 2020 – that monies are owed to the contractors. Note the admission, followed by the obligatory excuse and the insipid shifting of blame: “The Cabinet decided that a sum of approximately EC$4,000,000 (four million dollars)—owed to multiple contractors for their work in Barbuda, repairing rooftops and making homes more resilient—will be set aside to make good on outstanding payments. The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) was given the authority to make payments from contributions; however, the labour cost of the repair work exceeded the contributions. Many donors also specified that their monies were contributions towards the purchase of building supplies, and that the labour inputs were to be met by Antigua and Barbuda. The unpaid sums are to be verified once more by NODS and the Ministry of Works and all payments made within months.” In other words, even though the administration received enormous sums of money from international donors, as alluded to earlier in this piece, said international donors were adamant that the donations were only to be used for building materials and supplies. Sigh! We have heard other variations of that sort of excuse as it pertains to the Barbuda donations from this excuse-fetish administration. Pass the aspirin, folks.
Two rather interesting quotes about casting blame, come to mind. They are instructive. The first is by a gentleman named Robert Anthony, and we bequeath it to this administration: “When you blame others [for your shortcomings and failures], you give up your power to change.”Hmmm! There’s a thought. The second, declares, “Don’t blame people for disappointing you; blame yourself for expecting too much!” Boy, did some of us ever . . . We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.