Sun, Jan 31st 2016, 11:58 PM
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday he will not be returning to frontline politics. Ingraham spoke to The Nassau Guardian amid ongoing infighting in the Free National Movement (FNM), which he led for 19 years. Asked whether he has plans to return to frontline politics, Ingraham said, "No. Absolutely none. Absolutely none."
He was also asked whether there are forces seeking to convince him to return. He said, "Oh, that happens every day. But no. I don't propose to come back."
Ingraham resigned from the FNM on the night of the May 7, 2012 general election when it became clear that the party was defeated by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). He also announced that he did not intend to sit in Parliament as the MP for North Abaco and was retiring from political life. His retirement came nearly seven years after he returned as FNM leader.
In 2005, with grave dissatisfaction among FNMs over the performance of Tommy Turnquest as leader, Ingraham entered a leadership battle at the party's convention and was re-elected leader, a position he gave up in 2002. He went on to lead the FNM to victory against the embattled PLP in 2007.
With many FNMs critical of the leadership of Dr. Hubert Minnis, some within the party have been toying with the idea of trying to convince Ingraham to once again return to politics. But Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian yesterday he is enjoying being in retirement, but would be open to helping the FNM from the background in its bid to win the next election.
Ingraham said, "It is my hope that the FNM can get itself together and win the next election and it is my hope that I would be in a position to give them whatever support I can in that regard, but certainly I expect that the party will not have a selective process that seeks to remove certain people from consideration for whatever petty reasons there may be."
He appeared to be referring to the party's nomination process. In the years that followed his resignation as leader of the FNM, the party has faced significant challenges under the Minnis leadership. But Minnis' support in the party seemingly remains strong.
In 2014, he soundly defeated Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner for the leadership. While Butler-Turner pledged her support to Minnis, tensions have continued to surround the leadership. In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the FNM's leadership issue to be addressed again.
On Friday, Minnis announced that the party's National Executive Committee recommended to the Central Council of the FNM on Thursday, that "pursuant to the constitution of the party", a full national convention will be held not later than November 30, 2016. Minnis noted that the dates will be determined by the FNM Central Council and a vote on the resolution to have a convention this year will take place at or before the next regular council meeting. Minnis is expected to again be challenged for leader, but it is not yet clear who his contender or contenders might be.
On Saturday, former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, who retired from frontline politics in 2012 ahead of the election, acknowledged that he would be open to a leadership bid if that became necessary to help in the betterment of The Bahamas. Ingraham's confirmation that he does not intend to re-enter politics might change the dynamics of the FNM's leadership discussion. But there could be others who still see a chance of an Ingraham return.
In 2005, not long before nominations at the FNM convention, Ingraham expressed to Turnquest that he would not be running for leader. He later said he changed his mind after he was convinced that he was needed by the party to lead it into the 2007 election.
Sun, Jan 31st 2016, 11:54 PM
Following warnings that infighting among members of the Free National Movement (FNM) would likely result in a loss at the polls, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said yesterday the current atmosphere within the party is not a "serious challenge", and charged that some people are "making a mountain out of a molehill".
South Abaco MP Edison Key and former South Beach MP Phenton Neymour said the party is fractured and could not win an election in its current state. But Turnquest said the party is "coming together nicely".
"I am confident that when election is called we will have a unified fighting force ready to take back control of this government and steer it in the right direction," he said. His comments came the same day that several FNM MPs demanded a public apology from Senator Lanisha Rolle, who accused some FNM MPs of being "jealous" of FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.
In a statement, St. Anne's MP Hubert Chipman, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and North Eleuthera Theo Neilly said Rolle's comments were "unprovoked and unbecoming of someone in her position." The group said If Rolle refuses to apologize, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis must demand that she apologizes and publically distance himself from the comments.
When asked about Rolle's comments, Turnquest said Minnis addressed the matter in a statement last week. In the statement that Turnquest referred to, Minnis said the FNM does not support any criticisms from anyone that would damage the reputation of its parliamentarians and senior party members. However, he did not directly address Rolle's comments nor did he indicate whether Rolle will be asked to apologize.
"I certainly stand in solidarity with [Minnis] in respect to that statement," Turnquest said. "With respect to the future and the result of the election, I believe that the Bahamian people are not so much interested in what's happening within the FNM.
"They are much more interested in the solutions and policies that the Free National Movement will put forward and whether they are reasonable, workable, practical and as well as to evaluate the current government and the promises and policies that they have implemented which we all know to date have been failing, inadequate and certainly have been delayed in a lot of respects.
"So while some may want to make a mountain out of a molehill, we do not see it as a major challenge," he said when asked if the infighting would lessen the party's chances of winning the general election.
"These things happen from time to time. We will get past them. We are unifying day by day and getting stronger day by day and we are confident that whenever this election is called that the FNM will be the government of The Bahamas."
Sun, Jan 31st 2016, 11:49 PM
The leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Dr. Hubert Minnis, has called himself a man of his convictions. The trouble for him is that 15 months before the next general election, nine out of 10 Bahamians can't identify one issue around which he has shown conviction in the three and a half years that he has been in the job. That's a problem for the FNM. Minnis doesn't command authority within his own party. That's a direct consequence of his failure (some say inability) to lead.
All political parties are rag-tag operations with factions and special interest groups competing to hold sway. The FNM is no different now than it was at its formation. History has shown that dissent can be good. If it were not for the Dissident Eight who formed the FNM, politics in this country would have languished under what might now have been 49 years of unbroken PLP governance.
So dissent is not to be discouraged. There must always be alternatives waiting in the wings to provide leadership. Weak, ineffective leadership must always be challenged. Minnis needs an internal challenge for the good of democracy, for the good of the FNM, for the good of the PLP and for the good of the country.
Harken back to 2007 when Tommy Turnquest was under attack from many who believed he was an ineffective leader. The difference between then and now is that Tommy Turnquest is a class act. He is a statesman who soars way above the head of Minnis. Minnis, not so much.
Minnis is too weak a leader to be taken seriously. Plotting against him is easy. The PLP war room no doubt has a playbook on how to ridicule him in a head-to-head general election contest. The smart money says that beating him in a general election would be easy for the PLP. Removing him from his job as leader of the FNM though is hard work.
Lovers of democracy know that it can always be counted on to save the day. That is, if the adversaries adhere to democratic protocol. A potcake fighting for its life will naw away the very hand that rescued it from the shelter.
Minnis is not going down without significant collateral damage to him and the FNM brand. If he can't have the government, he would rather the PLP keep it than see it run by another FNM. So there must a convention. Those who wish to challenge Minnis or see him challenged must be open about it.
The leaders of the party must look to the good of the party and the country, not to someone who promises them high positions (I understand there are at least two governors general and three attorneys general in waiting). The delegates at convention must look not to who can give them personal favor now, but who can march them back into government next year. Call the delegates to convention. Let the chips fall where they may. And may the best man or woman win.
- The Graduate
Sun, Jan 31st 2016, 11:25 PM
Its many challenges notwithstanding, the fourth estate in The Bahamas is stronger than it has been in a long while. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) clearly feels threatened by this, particularly as election season approaches. Its chairman, Bradley Roberts, does not have kind words for the media. This is not surprising and it also will not have any impact on how we continue to report the news and provide commentary on national events.
The PLP government has long lost credibility. It has squandered its mandate. So now it seeks to discredit the media, a crucial player in a democracy, especially one in which the Official Opposition has proven weak and largely ineffectual.
We cannot imagine what message the PLP will come with ahead of the next election. Its record is dismal. No amount of flashy campaign ads and campaign frolicking will make this record more attractive.
Constituencies like Farm Road and Bain Town, which have traditionally been represented by the PLP, remain blighted and underdeveloped. Unemployment is way up.
Roberts seems to be uncomfortable with the fact that there is no longer a tolerance for unaccountable, arrogant, incompetent governance. This intolerance is growing as the days of the PLP's stranglehold on broadcast media are long passed. The Christie administration resists demands for accountability at every turn. It views such demands as harassment, even, as if the electorate and the media have no right to expect the government to be accountable.
In the last three and a half years, the Christie administration has provided poor, unfocused governance. It has failed to deliver on key promises, like driving down crime, reinvigorating the economy and providing mortgage relief. These days, crime is no longer the fault of the government. That is because the PLP is in government.
During the Ingraham administration, PLP Leader Perry Christie told the nation the high rate of violent crime was the result of poor governance. Catch phrases like "doubling the investment in education" were also a part of the PLP's sham of a campaign.
The populace is tired of Christie, who is seeking to force another term of bad governance on the Bahamian people. After more than 40 years in public life, Christie wants to stay on as king of The Bahamas. But he clearly is not so interested in the responsibilities of leadership. He continues a disturbing lust for power.
Many within his party have had their fill of him. But they do not want to take their chances at the polls without him. They believe he is their best chance to hold on to power and they will no doubt seek to hold on to power at all cost.
All around The Bahamas, the cry is getting louder: No more Christie, no more PLP. People are not safer, despite the fact that Christie, Roberts and the rest of the PLP claimed they had the answers to crime. They are confused and lost. They are full of flam.
Under Christie's leadership, there is a sense that we are stuck in a rut. And every time Christie talks, we want to cover our ears in frustration. It has become hard to even listen to him. He talks at every turn about Baha Mar being resolved "soon", a new crime plan coming "soon", help and hope "on the way", an unprecedented jobs boost around the corner. He talks about the fact that his disorganized push to National Health Insurance (NHI) is not about winning votes when many sensible observers recognize that NHI is principally about Christie grasping for a legacy. If it were not about politics, he would slow down and do it right.
Christie himself struggles at explaining the specifics of NHI. He does not know how much it will cost. Clearly, Roberts and others in the PLP also do not know. They continue to use the same tired line that no cost can be placed on saving lives, as if God almighty will rain money down from Heaven to fund the scheme.
At a political meeting in Nassau Village on Tuesday night, Roberts sought to deflect attention from the government's botched handling of NHI by wrongly stating that Colina is the parent company of The Nassau Guardian and that is why The Nassau Guardian has been so critical of the government over NHI.
We state for the record, as we have done on multiple occasions, The Guardian Media Group is affiliated with the largest life and health insurer in The Bahamas. The Guardian's parent company and about 2,700 Bahamian shareholders have interests in the public holding company that owns Colina Insurance Limited.
Roberts' claim that The Guardian is critical of the government over NHI out of self interest does not hold water.
The Guardian's affiliation with Colina is no secret. Roberts made no revelation the other night when he sought to make it an issue. The PLP is constantly looking to discredit anyone who criticizes its handing of NHI.
The Guardian is accused of operating out of self interest; the doctors are accused of being greedy. But it is clear to many sensible Bahamians that the Christie administration has fumbled NHI. It says it has started registration for the scheme but it has yet to introduce any legislation or regulations to govern NHI.
The government claims that primary care will be introduced in April, but the prime minister is now engaging an unidentified foreign firm to advise him on NHI. No wonder many are confused as to what the government is doing. Christie himself appears confused.
The government of Perry Christie hates the fact that it is being scrutinized by an unrelenting media. Its chief attack dog, Bradley Roberts, is stuck in an era that has long passed. We in media are not intimidated by his brash, impertinent approach. He barks loudly, but his bite has no impact.
At the Nassau Village meeting, Roberts, faced with his party's less-than-stellar record, turned his guns at the media one more time.
Roberts said, "The editorial antics of The Nassau Guardian's managing editor hurt the reputation and legacy of the fourth estate."
We live in a democracy, so Roberts is, of course, fully entitled to his opinions. What he is, however, not entitled to is his own version of the facts. He hated the fact that we highlighted the changed tune of the PLP's newest prized addition, Byran Woodside, a former minister in the cabinet of Hubert Ingraham.
We pointed out in this space last week that Woodside once characterized the PLP as a party of "wheelers and dealers" and "all for me baby types" who engage in "nepotism". Whereas he once saw Christie as presiding over a party of incompetent members, Woodside said last week he believes in Christie and the PLP. It reminded many why they are often sickened by politics and by politicians who act more out of political expediency than conviction.
Roberts has no problem when we are critical of FNMs, but Woodside is no longer an FNM, so naturally he came to his defense. Roberts inaccurately stated, "The National Review could attack Byran Woodside for joining the PLP all it wants, but its deafening silence toward both Andre Rollins and Renward Wells when they joined the FNM smacks at bias and cheapens the commentary to comedy to be ridiculed and used as the butt of jokes."
But there was no silence from National Review when Rollins and Wells joined the FNM last November.
The two former PLPs were, in fact, subjected to an even greater degree of scrutiny over their decision than the former FNM minister was. Following the decision by Rollins and Wells to join the PLP, we highlighted in several articles how critical they had been of the FNM. We reminded that Wells still had on the agenda of the house the FNM-brokered Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) deal, which he previously called "egregious".
We reminded that Rollins was the one who brought to light the matter of the reported conflict of interest involving FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis, who as minister of health allowed the Public Hospitals Authority to continue renting a building he owns. We noted that Rollins' change of tone on this issue was curious.
We also reminded that while Wells is now having a love fest with Minnis, it was Minnis who repeatedly lashed Wells and the PLP over the matter of the controversial letter of intent he signed while he was parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works. We wonder what silence Roberts could possibly be talking about. Perhaps he missed the scrutiny of the two former PLP MPs. Perhaps those facts just did not fit into his lame script. Roberts also claimed The Guardian and the Tribune have some kind of conspiracy to remove Minnis as leader of the FNM and return Hubert Ingraham.
He charged, "The ultimate objective of both newspapers is the removal of the PLP from office; and you can take that to the bank, Nassau Village."
As Roberts continues to spin his conspiracy theories, he ought to be more concerned about the fact that all over The Bahamas Bahamians are disappointed, disgusted even, by the leadership of Perry Christie. They are eager to see the backs of the PLP -- which has not had a convention now in seven years to even address the question of leadership. Perry Christie might be comforted by the fact that the FNM is in a state of complete turmoil right now. But even the impotent leadership of Dr. Hubert Minnis does not provide for the PLP a clear shot at re-election.
The PLP's problem is not a vigilant media. Its main problem is its lack of recognition that so many people are simply sick of the nonsense of their government. Our problem, the people's problem, is that we are weighed by the abysmal performance of this complacent government led by Christie. But our main option, the FNM, is a lamentable, fractured party with a lackluster leader who struggles to convince even those in his party that he is able to move the country forward.