IN THE early 1980s, in my capacity as the hotel union shop steward at the Grand Hotel, now the RUI, I sought to improve benefits and working conditions for union members.
In response, the management of the hotel framed me in an attempt to force my resignation. Their attempt failed.
One of those who publicly defended me was Hubert Ingraham, then a PLP member of Parliament.
Though I was an FNM, and we barely knew each other at the time, he defended me in the House of Assembly, arguing that I was unjustly treated by the Grand Hotel.
As fate would have it, one decade later in the early 1990s, I was pleased in my capacity as chairman of the Free National Movement, along with the then Treasurer, to present Hubert Ingraham with his FNM membership card.
Over the ensuing decades I came to know our former leader and Prime Minister well.
In working with him and others for the betterment of our country I am able to say with great confidence and gratitude that the Bahamas is better – much better – because of Hubert Ingraham.
It was Mr Ingraham and his team of FNM Cabinet ministers and parliamentarians who led the way in improving the daily quality of life and reforming the public institutions, making the Bahamas a more prosperous and modern country.
Because of Hubert Ingraham, our democracy has been broadened and deepened.
Mr Ingraham and his team made positive advancement in every area of national life while responding to the challenges of the day – whether climate change, economic crisis or natural disasters.
Our former Prime Minister is a compassionate and caring man.
I remember driving with him once in a Family Island. As we passed school children walking home on the side of the road in puddles of rain water, he said to me that there was no reason why this should happen in the Bahamas.
That same day he spoke to the Minister of Works. Shortly thereafter sidewalks were built in that settlement. This is one of numerous examples of the many positive things Mr Ingraham did to make the lives of Bahamians better.
Some initiatives were local and some were national, like the 100 per cent increase in social assistance.
The good name of the Bahamas and our high standing in the world were restored and enhanced during the 15 years of governance under the FNM.
The Bahamas now plays a major role in regional institutions and our views are respected in international forums.
Mr Ingraham has played a key role in CARICOM and is highly regarded in the region.
Even as Mr Ingraham and the FNM team brought reform to our national institutions, he also led the way in reforming the FNM and deepening democracy in our party.
When Mr Ingraham became leader of the FNM, one of the first reforms he successfully proposed was to expand the Candidates Committee from a small group to a larger and more representative body.
We expanded the officer core of the party and we acquired, for the first time, a national party headquarters.
Both the FNM and the Bahamas have benefitted greatly from the public service and extraordinary leadership of Hubert Ingraham.
Given his love for the Bahamas, his commitment to the Bahamian people and his unbridled energy, we await with great interest the beginning of the next stage and chapters in the life of Hubert Alexander Ingraham.