“THE era of Ingraham is over,” declared a self-satisfied Hubert Minnis who inherited the FNM leadership from former prime minister Hubert Ingraham, who resigned his North Abaco seat after serving as prime minister for 15 years – three terms.
There was no recognition nor was there any note of gratitude for all the years of service that Mr Ingraham had given his country. Neither was there any recognition from Dr Minnis that the position that he now holds was largely due to the influence of Mr Ingraham.
“I wish him luck in his future endeavours, but his era is over. That’s it for him,” was all Dr Minnis had to say after Mr Ingraham’s former constituency — North Abaco — was won by PLP Renardo Curry in the bye-election of 2012. The bye-election was called after Mr Ingraham announced that he was stepping down from front line politics.
An echo of Dr Minnis’ prophetic words reverberated in the House of Assembly yesterday when Speaker Kendal Major announced to a stunned House and an equally surprised Dr Minnis that he had received a formal letter from seven FNM MPs saying that they had lost confidence in their leader and wanted his appointment revoked in accordance with Article 82(4) of the Constitution. They wanted to continue their term in parliament under the leadership of Loretta Butler-Turner. Only two FNM members declined to sign.
The no confidence letter was also sent to Governor-General Dame Marguerite Pindling, who will have the final sign-off on their request.
This was one of the closest guarded political secrets in a long time. It was obvious that a startled Dr Minnis had not been given a hint.
No sooner was the news making the rounds than social media was speculating that this was typically the hand of Ingraham. Although, he might have learned of these political machinations by today, Mr Ingraham was nowhere around to plan anything. His wife, who has been seriously ill in an Ohio hospital and later as an out patient of that hospital for more than two months was recently released for her return home. Instead Mr Ingraham took her on a cruise. They are not expected back in Nassau before December 16. So on this one he can be counted out.
There has been political unrest in the FNM ever since Dr Minnis took the helm. It was obvious almost from the first day that — although a skilled doctor — he was not a skilled leader. However, he refused to accept reality to the detriment of a once respected political party.
For us, as soon as the graceless words were uttered – “the era of Ingraham is over” without even a “thank you” – we recognised that Dr Minnis did not have the healing, unifying qualities of leadership. If after four years as leader he could not keep his party together, how did he expect to have unity in readiness for an election? And if in that time he could not inspire his party to pull together how could he expect a country made up many disillusioned Bahamians to flock to his banner? For the sake of the country, Dr Minnis should have recognised that he was an unskilled politician and if a true patriot should have resigned the leadership post for the good of his country. But, unfortunately, this is the result of false pride, and a willingness to listen to the flattery of false prophets.
From statements he has made from time to time, Dr Minnis seemed to have been relying on Bahamians’ disillusionment with the PLP to win the government from them. Unfortunately, he has misjudged the temper of the people, their reluctance to register to vote shows they might decide to turn their backs on the election. If the low voter count persists the PLP certainly will not be justified in adding any more seats in the House of Assembly.
If the Governor-General signs off on the dissenting FNM’s request for the removal of Dr Minnis as Leader in the House, he still remains leader of the party.
However, whatever the outcome, it is important for the Opposition to regroup and make a decision. A general election is just around the corner, and might be called even sooner than expected because of the Opposition’s confusion. The slow voter registration might be the only delaying factor.
However, it is important for the FNM to regroup — if necessary form a new party and make an effort to attract the best from all of the other parties, especially from the organisations that joined in the “We March Bahamas” last month. Among them are genuinely disillusioned Bahamians, many who have talent and a willingness to cooperate. Seek them out, bring them together, and bring the most qualified of them to the fore so that they too can contribute their skills to building a better Bahamas.
The PLP have had their day. Having kept too much information from the people, and failed to fulfil too many promises, they have worn out their time. This small chain of islands has no future under their leadership. If ever there were a time for a change it is now. But time is of the essence. Either build a stronger FNM or build a new FNM — but it is now time to prove to Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell and persons like him that the protests of an angry, disillusioned people can in fact change “diddly squat.”