FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday predicted that the Free National Movement (FNM) will pick up all five seats in Grand Bahama, and declared that the approaching general election will be about the quality of leadership that will move the country forward.
"The PLP was a massive failure during their single disastrous term from 2002 to 2007," said Ingraham at the launch of his party's campaign at Our Lucaya Resort. "And, Perry Christie is a failed leader.
"...Desperate to get back to the cookie jar, they're going to flood the TV and put up all kinds of posters offering you slogans. Well, that won't work because we're going to remind the Bahamian people that it is the FNM that puts you first every day and all the time. We have a record. They just have plenty talk."
The campaign launch was billed as the start of the FNM's "2012 march to victory" and was attended by hundreds of enthusiastic FNM supporters who were told by the FNM leader that better days are ahead for Grand Bahama.
The party formally unveiled its team, which Ingraham said is a team of 'talent and conviction, character and competence'.
With the new boundary cuts, there will be five seats in Grand Bahama, down from six. Currently, the PLP holds one seat in Grand Bahama.
Former Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce President Peter Turnquest is the FNM's candidate for East Grand Bahama, along with educator Norris Bain (Marco City), journalist Pakesia Parker Edgecombe (West Grand Bahama and Bimini), Kwasi Thompson (Pineridge) and Neko Grant (Central Grand Bahama).
Ingraham thanked outgoing High Rock MP Kenneth Russell for his dedicated service. Ingraham fired Russell from his Cabinet last month.
He also thanked outgoing Eight Mile Rock MP Verna Grant for her service. Grant said in the House previously that she wanted to run again on the party's ticket.
Speaking at yesterday's event, which was broadcast live on television and radio stations, Ingraham said, "We have a dynamic team which represents some of the best of the Bahamian imagination. We have a team that will advance the FNM's comprehensive vision of national development."
Grand Bahama's economy -- which was suffering serious challenges long before the global economic crisis struck in 2008 -- continued to limp along under the current administration's term.
Ingraham yesterday admitted that there were disappointments relative to the Grand Bahama economy since 2007, including the Ginn project going bust and Harcourt failing to redevelop Royal Oasis Hotel.
But he said Grand Bahama can not trust the PLP.
"If talking, dreaming and imagining created jobs, modernized laws and installed state-of-the-art infrastructure - then I suppose they could find something which they might have accomplished," Ingraham said of the past administration led by Christie.
"For too long the leader of the Opposition and his colleagues in the PLP have traded on having smooth tongues. You must tell them clearly and tell them loudly that smooth talking will not cut it. Ridiculously, strung together adjectives mean nothing."
Ingraham added, "Our party knows that your economy continues to limp. We are working daily to soften the impact for as many persons and families as possible.
"We are acting to ensure that we are in the best possible position to benefit from the economic recovery when it occurs."
Ingraham also told FNMs that the election is about the party that can deliver on its promises to build a better future for all Bahamians.
"The future requires leadership," he added. "It requires hard work and job performance over just performing for the crowds and the cameras. The FNM is the party of change and renewal. Color red is on the move."
He said, "The PLP, having paid some foreign agents to develop slick TV ads are setting about to try and trick people into believing that they are ready to govern. Do they do this by providing concrete examples of an action plan? Of course not. They are busy assigning posts."
He said whatever the PLP government thought it did for Grand Bahama has either 'vanished or floundered'.
Dismissing Christie's claim that he is a bridge to the future, Ingraham said Christie is a throwback to the past.
"They can't take anyone to the future, much less build an airport or a straw market or provide Bahamians with a prescription drug benefit or an unemployment insurance benefit," he said.
The FNM will next week formally launch its campaign in New Providence, then on other islands.
The prime minister yesterday urged Bahamians who have not yet done so to register to vote as he plans to 'ring the bell' soon.
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