Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we are witnessing some strange behavior by those in high places. It can only mean one thing – an election is in the offing. So there they are, running around like chickens without heads. They are suddenly accessible to their Constituents, they are suddenly concerned about the deplorable conditions of their Constituencies. They are suddenly concerned about dependable Social Security checks, reliable garbage pick-ups, on-time paychecks for work done on behalf of the government, decent community clinics, and so on and so forth. So, there they are, making nice with the people that they only recently ignored and neglected. Of course, the scriptures warn us to BEWARE. Be not deceived! they have suddenly resorted to a great pretense at being kind and gentle. It is a farce! These leopards cannot change their spots.
The scriptures caution us, in the spiritual as well as the natural realm, that “when we see these things, we ought to look up, because our redemption draweth nigh!” A change is a-coming – a change MUST come, what with the upcoming elections, and many are saying, “Even so, come quickly!” After all, we are so sick and fed-up with this awful administration. We can hardly wait for the Redeem Team to take the reins of government and usher in a new era of good governance, accountability and transparency.
We are also looking forward to a more caring administration, one that keeps its promises, and will not engage in verbal abuse. As it stands here in Antigua and Barbuda, the abuse of the citizenry is the coin of the realm. It will undoubtedly be a breath of fresh air after the final vote is counted and a new day dawns, bright and fair. The cobwebs of malaise and indifference will be swept away. So too will the stains of arrogance and pridefulness in high places.
Which beggars the question: What have they done for the people that could occasion such arrogance and vanity and pride? We submit, precious little. The water situation is still quite aggravating, as is the dreadful condition of our roads. Potholes abound. Even on the supposed state-of-the-art highways being rehabilitated by C O Williams, road-users can only say ‘chupz!’ The work is hardly impressive.
Meanwhile, the gaudy, ostentatious, over-the-top bill boards that have been springing up, here, there and everywhere, are yet another sign that this administration is tone-deaf, completely out of touch with the people. Never mind the source of the funding for the billboards, never mind whether it is by the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), or the government itself, their erection is proving to be quite irksome to the regular folks who are bawling because the cost of living is so very high. For many ordinary folks, they would have to work and save a few pennies from two or three paychecks before they could afford one sheet of thick plywood, but here is the incumbency spending on plywood like a drunken sailor. For many folks, the plywood optics are awful.
In other parts of the world where people have had to tighten their belts and adopt cost-saving measures, incumbent parties usually are more austere. They are more sensitive to the plight of the people. They do not wish to be seen as splurging on their own reelection at a time when they are calling on the people to be more prudent and thrifty in their expenditures. Here in Antigua and Barbuda, there is a disconnect between the people – the reality that the people are living – and the ABLP.
Yes, the elections draw nigh! Suddenly, the administration has found religion and is hastily erecting street lights on the Sir George Walter Highway, from Sprugoo’s Service Station heading North. This sudden concern for street lighting comes over two years after Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM) finished their work on the highway. Of course, the crescendo of complaints about poor lighting on our roadways fell on deaf ears. Those in high places did not give a rat’s derriere! Suddenly, they do!
And yes, we will not be surprised if they suddenly plant trees and do something to beautify the roundabouts, as is done in normal countries where aesthetics are important. Under this administration, except for the black-and-white markings on the bases of the roundabouts, absolutely nothing has been done to make them a bit more pleasing to the eye. They remain in the same rough-shod position that they were in, when BHM departed. Sigh!
The thing is that all of this sudden care and concern, all of this flurry of activity on the part of those in high places is so transparent and DISINGENUOUS! It is all designed to placate and seduce the people. Brer Crocodile shedding his phony tears would be proud. He would nod in approval at the call to hold hands and sing KUMBAYA. Folks, this Damascus conversion is not genuine! The people are disenchanted and disillusioned, and the calls to break bread together will not resonate with us.
Consider the following, if you will. In September of last year, the good Minister Representative from the ‘Roun South’ area, promised that the decrepit and dangerous Crab Hill road would be fixed as a matter of urgency. That was a vain promise! More than a year later, she is blithely talking the talk about repairs to the road. This time, she is not prevaricating, because the elections are nigh, and she knows that the neglect of the Crab Hill road, (And Little Creek Bridge, and Cades Bay Bridge) on her part, is a sore point for her longsuffering Constituents. She is trying to make nice. Alas, it is too little, too late.
And so it goes, we are treading water here in Antigua and Barbuda – ooops! scooping it up and then emptying it back into the St John’s Harbour. The charade taking place at out main seaport with the supposed dredging to accommodate the Oasis class vessels is a national disgrace. So many years after the dredging began, with much fanfare and hoopla, the Oasis vessels still cannot yet berth here. How shame-faced were we when we saw theWONDER OF THE SEAS, the world’s largest cruise vessel, happily at berth in St Kitts last week? Sigh!
Never mind the intermittent happy-talk by the good Minister of Tourism, and the rest of his colleagues, they are out to sea, and they are struggling with a ship that is sinking – the Santa Maria de la Antigua. Ah yes, we are reminded of Gypsy’s 1986 classic, CAPTAIN, THIS SHIP IS SINKING, and the words, “We gas tank almost empty / No electricity, we oil pressure reading low . . . / Meh blood crawl, things start to fall /Ah hold meh head when a sailor bawl / Captain, this ship is sinking / Captain, the seas are rough / Now there’s a lot of fingers pointing / Suspicion running strong / Who’s to be blamed for all her failures / Who’s to be blamed for doing her wrong / Some were overpowered by greed / And so they pilfered slow / Some took by bulk an’ go / Now she look dull, she’s at a lull / She could barely sit on her hull / Captain .. .”
Folks, when we see these things, how everything is falling apart, how the Ship of State is floundering in severe distress, we must look up, and DO THE RIGHT THING on election day. The day of our redemption draweth nigh!
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