A TRIBUTE TO HIS FRIEND BERNARD NOTTAGE BY BRIAN SEYMOUR
Bernard Jonathan Nottage, affectionately known as Doc, on Tuesday past quietly slipped from time to eternity. Doc can best be described as a realistic and a pragmatic policy maker of his generation. His driving instinct was to move and develop the Commonwealth of the Bahamas forward. He understood that the Bahamas was more than just New Providence and Grand Bahama. Doc knew in order to grow and develop this country, it would take government intervention through public investment to lead and develop the family islands coupled with foreign direct investment. If we are to maintain our independence then Bahamians would have to lead and build this country.
In 1998, Doc separated himself from his PLP political family. Like the apostle Paul, he went into the political desert. Doc always referred to this time as the most rewarding and fulfilling of his political life. It was rewarding for him because he got to see the country and speak with people outside of the political bubble and trappings of political power. The Bahamian people knew that he had no power, and therefore, they were quite candid and told him what they truly believed. They further shared their ideas on how to better our country. It also afforded him the opportunity to forged relationships and friendships with people of all political stripes that would prove beneficial in public service in years to come.
EMPOWERMENT, OPPORTUNITY, AND OWNERSHIP was the timeless creed that brought people of liked minds together to form the CENTER FOR POSITIVE CHANGE which later became the COALITION FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM (CDR) headed by B. J. Nottage and the late Charles Maynard. Idealism quickly met up with political reality after the 2002 general election. In that election, all CDR candidates lost their deposit. The reality is that we have a two-party state and, change does not come over night; and, if it is to come at all, change must come through the PLP or the FNM no matter how powerful or sound the idea, this is the reality. The lesson of pushing a people further than they want to go will always lead to disaster.
In 2012, when Doc was made Minister of National Security, he was the most powerful man in the country with the exception of the Prime Minister. No one in the country lost one hour sleep because so much state power was vested in one person, that speaks to the character of Dr. Nottage. Instead, what we witnessed was a man with the plan. Commencing with the prison, he moved it from a penal institution towards a correctional facility while walking the tight rope knowing that most people wanted to exact revenge on prisoners without mercy.
He modernized the Defence Force fleet through the $200 million Sandy bottom project which gave the force better management capabilities of our territorial waters from encroachment. He, also, managed the decentralization of the force. When $200 million dollars had been spent, there was not talk of impropriety referred to as “crookedness.”
Dr. Nottage believed that the long-term strategy for crime was through community outreach and education. His pride and joy was the Urban Renewal Marching band. He knew this was one of the most powerful tools in the police crime prevention arsenal. He would tell you stories of how the young people were exposed to travel inside and outside of the Bahamas; educational opportunities for the disadvantage youth through this medium. This was akin to Mr. Simpson Penn’s Boys Brigade.
Doc enjoyed being leader of house business in the House of Assembly and organizing the legislative agenda. During this period, he made special mention of Neko Grant citing Neko to be a man with whom he could do political business.
Today, as we mourn Bernard Johnathan Nottage, we could truly say that the country is a better place because a B.J. Nottage passed this way. B.J. Nottage, the servant leader, rest in peace, my friend. On behalf of Brian and Kathleen Seymour, we etend sincere condolences to Portia and the the Nottage family.