Former Barbados PM Chooses Easter For His “Mia Culpa”
“I today want without equivocation or without any reservation to accept full and utter responsibility for everything that was done by any officer, by any member of Cabinet, by any public official, during the three terms I was the leader of this country. I accept utter responsibility…”
… former Prime Minister Owen Seymour Arthur to Barbados Parliament, March 19, 2008. (Nation News story link here)
With a dry guffaw we note that after choosing to interrupt Christmas with an election call where he hoped to catch the DLP unprepared, our former Prime Minister has chosen Easter to offer himself as a dubious sacrifice to atone for the sins of his past government. In this way he hopes to cleanse the record of the Barbados Labour Party that his corrupt leadership rotted from the inside out.
No So Fast, Owen!
As we say ’bout hey, “de fish rot from de head” – and it is the same way with a political party and a government. Leadership means so much to any organisation and yes, Owen S. Arthur provided corrupt leadership to his government and his party.
It wasn’t always that way. When Owen first became Prime Minister, he had good intentions like most folks who go into politics. But after the first term citizens started noticing the changes: a spendthrift attitude and the sense of entitlement seemed to permeate the entire BLP government and civil service.
Million dollar government contracts were bestowed upon friends and relatives like the gifts they were – without public tender. Private lands were expropriated for “important government projects” that were never built… until a few years later the lands were transfered from government into “friendly” private hands again.
So the government corruptly used the power to expropriate land to steal land from one person and transfer it into the hands of another person. That was theft by government – corruption pure and simple.
It is true that all that and more was done under Owen’s “leadership”. It is also true that many in the BLP government were no doubt inspired by the examples he personally set: for instance corruptly depositing “campaign donations” into his private bank account.
Then there is the matter of Hallam Nichols and other friends of Owen Arthur who managed to put their hands into the taxpayers’ pockets by making a percentage of government purchases as “finders fees”. And despite promising to implement integrity legislation two decades ago, the BLP government under Owen S. Arthur made sure that no rules existed that would limit the ability to profit from government office.
Arthur even publicly celebrated his corruption when he donated US$150,000 in after-tax dollars to Cricket Legends of Barbados.
When the boss provides that kind of leadership, is it any wonder that the others follow the example?
At the end there was little that the BLP government purchased at any level that wasn’t inflated by bribes, kickbacks and “facilitation fees”. We’ll be paying for generations for the corruption that happened under Owen S. Arthur’s “leadership”.
So yes, Owen S. Arthur should be taking some of the blame for what went on under his leadership – but he is not the only guilty person in the BLP government.
Each BLP Government Minister Is Responsible For The Corruption Under Their Leadership
When BLP Minister of Housing Gline Clarke built a house for his mistress on land his government expropriated, it was Gline Clarke who was corrupt. When he withdrew “campaign donations” from his personal account at the Scotia Bank and then paid the construction crew in cash on Fridays, it was Gline Clarke who was corrupt.
When other Ministers issued government contracts to friends and relatives, it was the Ministers who were corrupt. When BLP Attorney General Dale Marshall “absolved” VECO Corporation – the corrupt builders of the new Barbados prison – in the face of FBI evidence and failed to act, it was Dale Marshall who was corrupt.
When former Attorney General David Simmons accepted the office of Chief Justice even though he knew that doing so would undermine the credibility of the Office of the Chief Justice and the entire judicial system, it was David Simmons who was corrupt.
When then Attorney-General Mia Mottley got her old friend Richild Springer a lucrative “consulting” position with the government and paid her four times the national yearly income in just two weeks, it was Mottley who was corrupt.
We could go on and on, but you get the point, folks… it wasn’t only Mr. Arthur who was corrupt, and it wasn’t only Mr. Arthur who corruptly profited from his public office. Each and every elected or appointed government official made their own decisions about corrupt activities: to participate, facilitate, to stand by and watch – or to say “NO”. (But not a single person publicly said “no”.)
The Opposition BLP Have No Credibility
The BLP is licking it’s wounds and dreaming of the day when they once again control the treasury, but they have a few problems…
The first problem for the BLP is that the party has a self-appointed, interim co-leader whose ability to be elected Prime Minister down the road is questionable. Mia Mottley has worked hard in her riding and has good local support, but many strong party supporters have doubts about her ability to carry an election as a national leader.
At the very least, the BLP will need a leadership convention soon to legitimize Mottley’s leadership… but that, my friends, might be a messy endeavour. Good for democracy and the party you understand, but very very messy!
The real problem for the BLP Opposition though is that they are the same people who ran what was arguably the most corrupt and wasteful government this country has ever seen.
Owen Arthur can offer himself as the Easter sacrifice to try and take the sins from his corrupt friends who shared the spoils with him in the past government, but I don’t think that the citizens of Barbados will buy into Arthur’s attempt at divinity or the sincerity of his offer.
After all, especially at Easter, we are reminded that before there can be true forgiveness, there must be true repentance.
For Arthur and the rest of his corrupt crones, true repentance must be accompanied by confessions of their secret offshore bank accounts.