Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham with FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis and supporters in North Abaco.
By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced he will formerly resign from the House of Assembly on the anniversary of his first election.
Thanking Abaconians for the years of unwavering loyalty and support during a reception and concert in Abaco Saturday evening, Free National Movement (FNM) Member of Parliament-elect and former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said after 35 years of public service he will step down as leader of the FNM at a special convention on May 26th and resign from his North Abaco seat on July 19, the anniversary of his first election to Parliament.
"I have spent more than one half of my life in your service," he told his supporters. "I ran again this time to Head the Government for a fourth time; the Bahamian public rejected my message and denied my request. I accept their determination and in the Westminster tradition of electoral democracy which we adhere to, I have determined to end my public life which has spanned more than half my own lifetime."
Encouraging residents to discuss who they would like to replace him in Parliament, Mr Ingraham said North Abaco will remain an FNM seat.
He said: "I thank all the people of Abaco for their faithfulness and loyalty and support. It does my heart good to know that I love you and that you love me in return.
"It does my heart well that Abaco has joined Long Island in being amongst the most faithful of Family Island constituencies to our Party since I joined the FNM in 1990. We are Abaco; we are never fearful and we will not abandon the FNM ship! So I will be replaced as your MP by another FNM!"
Proud of his record and many accomplishments, Mr Ingraham said he has done his best for North Abaco and has plans in place that will continue the island's development.
A number of projects are on the books for Abaco, he said, including new subdivisions for community expansion in Crown Haven, Fox Town, Cooper's Town, Green Turtle Cay, Dundas and Murphy Town; the new port at Conch Rock and the Angle Creek Fish Bridge and asphalt paving of the Treasure Cay Airport.
The new terminal at Marsh Harbour Airport is nearing completion, while the new Administrative Complex is complete and the Central Abaco Hospital is under construction, Mr Ingraham added.
"I acknowledge my debt to you and express my gratitude. I leave with my reputation intact," he said. "I gave you decent, honourable and incorruptible service. I did my best for you and I leave you now much, much better off than when we began."
Returning to private life and his law practice, Mr Ingraham said he plans to re-open his office in Marsh Harbour as he will be spending more time at his home in Cooper's Town and in "the seas of Abaco fishin'.".
"I am honoured for the privilege to have been of service to you," he said.
Newly-elected Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis, who was also present, thanked the former prime minister for his years of service. He also thanked Abaconians for "sharing one of your brightest stars with the rest of the Bahamas" adding that they "have been an FNM stronghold for many years."
Dr Minnis encouraged the residents of Abaco to remain loyal to the FNM.
He said: "We will soon be returning to ask for your continued support in the upcoming by-election. We need you to help us to strengthen our team in the House of Assembly so that we can carry out the functions of an effective opposition, and so that we can better guard your rights and privileges as citizens of the Bahamas.
"Remind our opponents that this is still FNM country and that you will not be moved."
Dr Minnis said the FNM will use this defeat as an opportunity to reorganise internally, rebuild the party's leadership and restructure plans to ensure the "torch will burn brighter than before".
"Like the phoenix, The Free National Movement will rise from this setback with more strength, clearer vision and greater determination to serve the Bahamian people," he said.