Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is The Bahamas Government Indebted to Peter Nygard?

Who Has Taken The Bahamas Back?

Tribune 242 Editorial
Nassau, The Bahamas

ALTHOUGH the PLP have tried to downplay the Nygard video posted on YouTube in the past few days, judging from comments on social media and the number of tapes e-mailed to us for our information, we do not think it wise for government to continue with its dismissive claim that the matter is of “no importance”.

The matter is of grave importance because government will have to make certain important decisions about Mr Nygard’s development at Nygard Cay involving the Canadian’s present and future investments there. Some of these developments are bitterly opposed by a large segment of our population.

Bahamians want to know whether its government is now so indebted to Mr Nygard that his interests will come before those of the citizens of this country.

Mr Christie might be out of the Bahamas this weekend, but judging by the alarmed and angry comments sent to us, we think it would be wise for him to make a statement as soon as possible to clarify the video’s declaration: “Nygard takes the Bahamas back.”

During last year’s election, we heard persistent rumours about the Nygard involvement in the PLP campaign. This tape seems to confirm the rumours.

Mr Nygard has always been close to the PLP government. We recall him trying to win over the FNM when it became the government in 1992. However, he was rebuffed and so now the video shows him with raised champagne glass, shouting “Victory! Victory! Take our country back!”

Before the Pindling government was defeated in 1992, we recall Opposition Leader Hubert Ingraham questioning the duty-free concessions granted by that government for Mr Nygard to build his pad at Lyford Cay. The late Paul Adderley was finance minister at the time.

On the FNM’s 1992 victory, we received a very official-looking invitation announcing that the Ingraham election celebrations were to be hosted at the Lyford Cay home of one Mr Peter Nygard. The way the invitation arrived at our office gave us the impression that it was issued by government. We don’t usually attend such functions, but on this occasion we decided to go.

We weren’t at Nygard Cay very long before we realised that something was not quite right. For an official function of celebration, we saw no one that we would have expected at such a party. Mr Ingraham was not there. Nor did we see any member of his government. It was obvious that for some reason the Nygard Cay party had been boycotted. We quickly left.

The following day, we got a proper teasing from one of our nephews, who laughingly told us that the last place he would have expected his uncle and aunt to be seen would be Nygard Cay. At the time we knew nothing about Mr Nygard. It was not until we went to Canada the following year that we discovered that he was a noted fashion designer.

We understand that Mr Nygard made another effort to extend the olive branch when on the 500th anniversary of the landing of Columbus at San Salvador, he sent each member of the Ingraham government a sports jacket. In fact for his first ten years in government, Mr Ingraham did not meet Mr Nygard.

However, later he was casually introduced to him at an Exuma regatta when Nygard, surrounded by his usual bevy of girls, was presented to him.

However, Mr Nygard obviously wants the world to know how close he is to the Christie government’s inner circle — in fact the deference shown him by government ministers on being introduced to him, suggests that Nygard heads that circle.

Mr Nygard is obviously unaware of our form of government, and fails to realise what embarrassment he has probably caused Mr Christie. It is now for Mr Christie to inform him that we are not a banana republic and therefore — contrary to what Bahamians are now suggesting — not for sale, or “resale” as one Bahamian remarked in disgust.

The video opens with Nygard on his tropical property. It then moves to the Bahamian flag with the words Election 2012 emblazoned across it and announcing that it is the Nygard Victory party. The video then shows the night of Mr Christie’s acceptance speech as he thanks his PLP supporters for making the victory possible. The camera, then breaks in with Nygard, raised champagne glass in hand, shouting “Victory!” from the comfort of his palatial home, surrounded by his young women.

The camera then flashes back to the rally. Mr Christie tells the crowd that they ought to take pride and credit for putting him in his position and they would have to work together to “make this the best little country in the entire world.” Flash back to Nygard: “Yeh, the best! The best!”

Back to Mr Christie and the rally: “You have been so good for us, so good for me, so good for my colleagues, we tell you tonight it is our solemn, solemn duty to respond in kind by how we perform. PLP! PLP! PLP!”

“Victory! Victory!” shouts Nygard with raised glass as one of the girls kisses him on his cheek and he gives another a high five. “We took our country back!” he shouts jubilantly.

The first of four videos ends with a photo of Mr Nygard and the Bahamas Prime Minister over the words: “Taking our country back”.

The camera — cleverly switching from the Nygard home with his girls and champagne glasses and then back to the Christie rally — could leave the viewer with the impression that Mr Christie’s last words were directed – not to the Bahamian people — but to Mr Nygard.

To whom did he refer when he said: “You have been so good for us, so good for me, so good for my colleagues, we tell you tonight it is our solemn, solemn duty to respond in kind by how we perform.”

Bahamians elected Perry Gladstone Christie as its prime minister, not Mr Peter J Nygard.

Mr Christie would be well advised to explain his position and that of his government to the Bahamian people.

July 15, 2013