It was a dark and rainy night when Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis entered the offices of Onicia Pope, Caribbean political fixer.
MINNIS: As you might have read, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas pretty badly.
ONICIA: I did. And?
MINNIS: I needed to rebuild quickly, smartly and with resilience, so I hosted the Hurricane Dorian Pledging Conference. I invited representatives of governments, multilateral agencies, and financial institutions.
ONICIA: Oy, a pledge conference? You might as well slap “rookie” on your forehead. Pledges ain’t nothing but promises, and promises are comforts to fools.
MINNIS: Sigh. I spent taxpayer funds to book the Baha Mar Convention Centre. The event committee thought up a theme and everything: “Rebuilding a Stronger and More Resilient Bahamas”. We collected pledges in the amount of US $1.5 billion, less than half the estimated losses and damage.
ONICIA: Honestly, I’m not surprised. That theme doesn’t inspire me to part with billions of dollars.
MINNIS: Actually, that figure included the pledges for in-kind services.
ONICIA: In-kind donations? Woof! You can’t scrape off the top of in-kind services. You basically lost money on a political influencer brand trip. The only thing those government representatives and international investors were interested in was a free Bahamian vacation.
MINNIS: Please, Onicia. I must rebuild my island so I can stay in office. Do you think this can be done by simplifying requirements and expediting applications for Bahamian and international investors?
ONICIA: You’re not a genius but you’re on the right path. Caribbean politicians are always pushing lower corporate taxes. That’s the beauty of living in a hurricane zone. A hurricane ain’t nothing but a Caribbean politician’s version of “the dog ate my homework”. In fact, it’s better than that because you have international media outlets confirming the existence of the dog and its capability to shred homework.
MINNIS: Okay, so, you would liberalise the process of investment.
ONICIA: I would stop talking about your deals in the media. Hosting a pledging conference is a short-sighted photo opp. Everyone knows political progress is made through backdoor dealings. So do like every seasoned politician and pretend you balanced the budget. Your constituents don’t care how much you steal, just as long as they have what they need to live.
MINNIS: That sounds like work. Should I consider changing careers?
ONICIA: Change careers?! You don’t want to put a prime minister’s resume into the dark hole that is LinkedIn. Imagine begging a political rival for a letter of recommendation. Sir, you’re overqualified for everything. No one is gonna hire an incompetent former Prime Minister.
No, your only hope is to abuse your executive power and change your identity. Sadly, once a Prime Minister, always a Prime Minister.
Like you, Emperor Napoleon fudged up at his gig and got exiled to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean. That’s like going from Prime Minister to Starbuck Manager.
Napoleon couldn’t go down like that. So he escaped from Elba with 700 men. When the British caught up with him he exiled to Saint Helena, a worse island.
Dear Prime Minister, you don’t want to die—or worse retire on a Starbucks Manager’s pension—stop worrying about money and policy. Focus on maintaining power. Within five years a new Category five will roll off the African coast and eat your political homework.
This first fix was a freebie. Now get out of here!
Award-winning Caribbean comedian, Onicia Muller’s weekly humour column, Just Being Funny is chicken soup for the naive sceptic’s soul. You can hire her to write anything from blogs and newsletters to bathroom poetry funny greeting cards. Join her newsletter for funny stories and stand-up comedy. OniciaMuller.com
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