Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest is confronted by Bain and Grants Town candidate Dr Bernard Nottage.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
POLITICAL candidates engaged in a war of words yesterday as Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham conducted a walkabout of an opposition stronghold yesterday.
Part of the Free National Movement's strategy to challenge traditionally safe seats for the Progressive Liberal Party, Mr Ingraham pleaded with Bain Town and Grants Town constituents for a chance to transform the inner-city during his final term in office.
"We're going to bring the PLP back to their base," he said. "We're going to be competitive with them everywhere in The Bahamas. No longer can they say they have these safe seats over-the-hill."
Mr Ingraham said: "Much of the infrastructure project that we're doing right now has to go through over the hill. We are improving it substantially, we want to attract visitors to come over-the-hill, people to come over-the-hill and spend money for businesses to develop.
"The government has invested huge sums of money to put in infrastructure over-the-hill. In other parts of the world, people build apartments and condominiums in these type of areas, instead we allow them to die."
Yesterday, Mr Ingraham also confirmed that he would step down as leader of the party if he was not re-elected to his seat.
Just minutes after the start of the FNM motorcade at Southern Recreation Grounds, the police reported that an unruly crowd of PLP supporters had gathered at Sarah Robinson Park on Meadow Street. As the crowd swelled to an estimated 200 persons, the police advised Mr Ingraham's route be redirected to avoid a possible clash between party supporters.
After learning that PLP supporters had congregated, Mr Ingraham laughed and said: "We in PLP territory, what do you expect?"
He added: "You think we'd like the PLP to march in Cooper's Town?"
While Mr Ingraham's motorcade was redirected, Minister of National Security and Mount Moriah MP Tommy Turnquest got into a war of words with PLP candidate and sitting MP for the area Dr Bernard Nottage. Mr Turnquest questioned why the opposition staged a demonstration at the same time in such a small community; however, Mr Nottage maintained his supporters had a democratic right to occupy the space.
The historic tour was Mr Ingraham's second walkabout through an inner-city community, the first time took place in Englerston and the Grove in 1992.
Mr Ingraham walked through the streets, shaking hands, hugging, and kissing residents as supporters danced to music from trucks on the motorcade, which was estimated to be about 50 cars long.
Mr Ingraham told residents that unlike other representatives, like PLP Leader Perry Christie, he shared a similar impoverished background as he did not have indoor plumbing until he was an adult.
While he admitted it will take years to completely eradicate the use of outdoor plumbing in every household, Mr Ingraham said his government is making a major effort to generate economic activity in the over-the-hill area.
Underscoring the area's lack of representation thus far, Mr Ingraham advised residents that it was his party that ushered in minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and the National Prescription Drug Plan.
In response to PLP criticisms that he was only using social initiatives for political leverage, Mr Ingraham said: "I assume that if they were interested in the area, then (PLP) would come without me. (If interested) they would represent it, they would come and hold meetings at the park, they would talk to people, they would show them what it is that they want to do for them, they would demonstrate they are concerned about them and interested in their welfare. They wouldn't wait for me to come, to come down and try to stop me from coming or interfere with my coming, but that's how they think of you down here in this part of town.
He added: "They are gonna come now, I'm bringing them now because as of today we are going to bring an eruption over-the-hill and it's going to spread like wildfire."