19 Oct 2012
I just want to say that I am proud to be able to bring these very brief remarks on the occasion of your installation of officers. I commend your chairman, Mr. Latore Mackey and his team for their diligent efforts in reactivating this important organ of the Progressive Liberal Party.
As Party Leader as far back as the late 1990’s, I expressed a desire for the formation of a body like this to advise the party’s leadership of relevant policy proposals not only for the continued evolution and growth of the PLP, but policy proposals that could be advanced and legislated by a PLP government.
From this desire and vision was born The National Progressive Institute. It evolved into a constitutional body of our Party with a branch only in Nassau.
These young professionals to date have donated over ten thousand dollars in media equipment to the Party so they were instrumental in building the media and public relations foundation of the PLP.
Later I expressed a desire for the formation of a similar body in Grand Bahama to complement the other Branches on the island inclusive of the Grand Bahama Council. I was happy to see vice chairs Kevin Stuart and Cassietta McIntosh take ownership of this mandate in bringing this to fruition in December 2009.
I must be clear and say to you that the National Progressive Institute is assured of my full support and the support of the leadership of the Progressive Liberal Party.
It is very clear from my record of service in public life that I am a great supporter of young people and that I was just a catalyst for the emergence of the next generation of leaders of our great party and by extension, this country.
As I am in the twilight of my political career, this commitment to providing opportunities to young people and facilitating a meaningful forum for the sharing of constructive ideas continue to be a pledge of mine.
We have a referendum on gambling to be held very soon and I applaud both the PYL and the NPI for creating the forums through which the general public was able to express itself on this important national issue.
I reiterate that my government does not have a horse in this race, but is committed to facilitating public dialogue on this issue.
Next year March, the Constitutional Reform Commission will report on proposed amendments to the 1973 independence constitution.
You should take advantage of the opportunity for your collective views to be heard by the Commission on subject matters ranging from:
Ø the elimination of gender bias to fixed dates for general elections;
Ø fixed terms for Prime Ministers and Parliamentarians;
Ø the establishment of a Republic;
Ø judicial reform;
Ø fixed boundaries; and
Ø electoral reform.
As we approach the 40th Anniversary of Independence, you should prepare to participate in the National Congress as promised in our Charter of Governance and thereby contribute to the development and enactment of Vision 2030. Simply, help to define the future Bahamas you would wish to live in.
It is the responsibility of people like you, the next generation of national leaders, not necessarily political leaders, but leaders in all sectors of civil society who must decide what kind of society and country you want to live in and how you want to be governed.
You can only do so by ensuring that your voices are heard for it is only through active participation and advocacy that public policy is accurately influenced and relevant.
The National Progressive Institute is now a fully constituted body of the party and whatever objectives you set out to achieve, as long as these objectives are consistent with the rules and philosophies of the National Party structure, is up to you.
There is no impediment to your success and where you encounter roadblocks and resistance, you can always contact the national chairman or me for advice, guidance or direct intervention.
NPI members, I challenge you to hold the Government’s feet to the fire when it comes to the concerns of our people. You are now another PLP voice for and on behalf of those who have no voice. My government would be better because of your advocacy.
When I tell you that I am the proverbial bridge from Sir Lynden Pindling to the future generation of PLP leaders, believe me as my record shows this. When I say that I am a consensus builder who takes into account diverse ideas and opinions and is tolerant of ideological dissent, believe me as my record has shown.
We have made great policy strides with the constitutionally recognized PYL constituency branches with voting privileges in the NGC and at National Convention. These all important and progressive policy overhauls will go a long way in keeping the PLP relevant and dynamic – a reflection of the society it serves.
Much of this progress was the direct result of the advocacy of the NPI so you must keep the spirit alive. Some of your former members have moved on to serve in the highest offices in government and the private sector but the spirit of NPI must be kept alive in the PLP.
Personalities such as Rosel Wilson-Moxey, Charmaine Austin, Selvin Basden, Kenred Dorsett, Jerome Fitzgerald, Elcott Coleby and Alana Ingraham Bethel are just a few who are available for advice and guidance as you continue to grow from strength to strength.
I close by congratulating the newest executive officers of the NPI and I look forward to working closely with you as we build our party and by extension, this great country of ours.
Goodnight and God bless.