By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
MONTAGU MP Richard Lightbourn yesterday said that FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has failed to connect with the Bahamian electorate as he endorsed Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and Senator Dr Duane Sands as his choices for the party’s two top posts.
Mr Lightbourn said it did not appear to him that Dr Minnis had sufficient support to lead the organisation to victory in the 2017 general election.
With that, he branded Mrs Butler-Turner and Dr Sands as “the best team” to lead the party into next year’s election, saying they will bring a new dimension to the organisation and Bahamian politics.
His statement came the day after another parliamentarian, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant, said it was no secret that he “absolutely” supports Mrs Butler-Turner and Dr Sands as the two move to challenge the Killarney MP and his Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest.
The two teams will go head to head during the party’s convention on July 27 to 29.
“I think they will be the best team to lead the party into the next election,” Mr Lightbourn said when contacted yesterday. “On the positive side, from my discussions with Mrs Turner and Dr Sands I think they will garner support.
“Dr Minnis is a fine person and is a good representative of his constituency. However, unfortunately he does not appear to connect with the general electorate and the electorate who will choose the next government of the Bahamas. And so it doesn’t appear to me that he has sufficient support in the country to carry the party to victory.”
Regarding reported issues with funding for the convention, Mr Lightbourn said he was of the position that this should fall at the feet of the leader of the party.
“I am not directly involved with the funding, (but) I would’ve thought that it’s the primary responsibility of the leader to arrange the funding for convention whether there was one in November or July, it shouldn’t change the position.
“So presumably if he was intent on funding one in November he should fund one in July. I trust the party is able to raise the requisite funds for the convention.”
On Monday, insiders told The Tribune that the party was struggling to find the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to host the convention amid debate over who is responsible for finding the funds.
Sources told The Tribune that the FNM’s big financial backers have refrained from providing money because of discontent with Dr Minnis.
Some, like former FNM Cabinet minister Tennyson Wells, have argued that those who fought for an early convention should find the funds to host it. While others, like former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, said that the responsibility lies with the party’s leader. A convention was estimated to cost around $300,000.
On Wednesday, Mrs Butler-Turner confirmed her intent to challenge the leadership position of the FNM.
While formally announcing this, Mrs Butler-Turner said the party, now more than ever, needs to be driven by leaders and doers.
She appeared confident and measured in her responses, maintaining that for the FNM, which is fractured and wrought with infighting, she and Dr Sands are “healers” with the ability to unify the opposition party.
She said it is important that as the party comes out of a convention that the two are able to embrace fellow FNMs who might be hurting over the results and to stress that the matter is bigger than the election of party officials, but it is one for this country.
To celebrate the official launch of this campaign and make public their plan for national development, she and Dr Sands called on all Bahamians to join them at Rawson Square on Wednesday, July 6.
For his part, Dr Sands said given his 22 years of experience in healthcare, he would be a very capable complement to Mrs Butler-Turner.
Asked if the two had received the endorsement of former Prime Minister and party Leader Hubert Ingraham, Mrs Butler-Turner responded that they had not. However, she added that they planned to work over the next four weeks to get the endorsement of every FNM.
Dr Minnis has told reporters that he will enter the convention as leader and emerge as the FNM chief.