Floyd Green was one of the rising stars in the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). As minister of agriculture and fisheries, the St Elizabeth South Western Member of Parliament seemed an ideal fit for that ministry as he comes from what is known as Jamaica’s breadbasket parish.
Young, likeable, and articulate, his hands-on approach to his portfolio responsibilities saw him being regarded by a wide cross section of Jamaicans as a “good politician”, one who had no burdensome baggage attached to his public persona, a community and family man, not to mention a successful constituency representative; indeed, a bright spark on the political landscape.
Then came that infamous video, which has gone viral on social media. Caught in the act, the fledgling minister had no choice but to hurriedly visit Prime Minister Andrew Holness to throw in the towel. Unlike another beleaguered JLP Member of Parliament, Westmoreland Central’s George Wright, who was being fingered in a highly publicised video on social media in which he was allegedly featured brutally attacking a woman, MP Green’s video provided irrefutable evidence, so the young lawyer turned politician saw the writing on the wall and did the right thing.
Kudos to Floyd Green for acting so swiftly in admitting guilt and accepting the consequences of his egregious action on a lockdown day, which is deemed to be a breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA).
For those who feel that he may have been dealt too harsh a blow and, instead, deserves a mere slap on the wrist, be reminded that he is a legislator and was a member of the Cabinet, the executive arm of Government which promulgated the Act, and as such he had a moral obligation and responsibility, as well as a judicial duty, to follow the letter of the law.
In this vein, the nation waits with bated breath to see how the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which is responsible for enforcing the Act, will respond after it completes its investigations into the matter.
Despite getting an overall positive rating for the way it has managed the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Holness Administration has been seen by many citizens as being hypocritical with respect to how violators of the DRMA have been treated. Many sceptics argue that there seems to have been one law for the Medes and another for the Persians. In other words, those who are privileged and have the right connections get off scot-free, while the marginalised, poor, and dispossessed feel the full brunt of the law. This perception was emboldened when it was felt that the Government had given into the wishes of the entertainment bigwigs and so, when the Floyd Green scandal erupted, as the prime minister admitted, his Government would have lost support if Green had stayed.
Needless to say, Green’s ‘sin of commission’ has once again highlighted the need for clear-cut legislation to deal with such sensitive matters involving parliamentarians and other high-profile public servants. It is instructive to note that the other ‘players’ who were ‘shelling down’ at that birthday party have also followed Green’s example by resigning from all State-related bodies or posts. This will have raised the bar in terms of accountability and the need for compromised public servants to ‘man up’ and hold themselves fully responsible for their actions.
In the meantime, while the Mark Golding-led Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has been rattling its sabre, it behoves them to go further by once again calling for speedy recommendations with respect to impeachment and the process of recall that were previously articulated by the late Prime Minister Edward Seaga and, latterly, by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding. As part of the overhauling of the Jamaican Constitution, which is impatient of debate, it boggles the mind that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has slumped into a kind of dereliction of duty when it comes to providing the necessary legislation to ensure better governance strictures, as well as the adherence to the rule of law.
This vexing scenario comes against the backdrop of the Holness-led Administration being hit by the George Wright and Floyd Green imbroglios, which no doubt have put a serious dent in “Brogad’s” armour. But, despite these misfortunes, Holness still enjoys tremendous goodwill among the masses, while the PNP continues to founder on the rocks of disunity and the lack of a fixity of purpose.
The prime minister’s swift and firm response to the Floyd Green et al saga would have increased his stock tremendously and he should use this fillip (no pun intended) to pursue the path of transformational leadership, which he has failed to do so far. In the final analysis, he represents the post-Independence generation of Jamaicans who expect meaningful change, bolstered by critical thinking and a resolve to take Jamaica out of its current state of morass, while teetering on the precipice of fast becoming a failing State.
In the meantime, the nation should not write off Floyd Green because he represents the kind of future leadership this country desperately needs. His mea culpa stance augurs well for him and we can only hope that in time he shall return.
However, Prime Minister Holness put his foot in his mouth when he said that he would be looking at ways to accommodate Green in some area, or areas, of Government in the interim. No, Holness! That’s not the way to go. This will send the wrong signal and one should hope that Green himself does not harbour such a thought at this time. It is imperative that he eats crow and lick his wounds for a reasonable period of time, which will allow for full contrition and ultimately forgiveness.