FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis unveiling his 'Roc Wit Doc' slogan in the House of Assembly, pictured with deputy leader Peter Turnquest and Loretta Butler-Turner, who is to challenge for the leadership at the upcoming convention. Photo: Yontalay Bowe
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis said he has no doubt that when his organisation convenes its highly anticipated three-day national convention next month he will remain the FNM’s chief.
If the event goes as Dr Minnis has confidently predicted, it would be the third time that he was voted into the party’s top post.
Dr Minnis told reporters yesterday that he had no concerns about a leadership challenge from his party’s former deputy leader, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner.
Mrs Butler-Turner and Senator Duane Sands have joined forces to contest the FNM’s top two leadership positions, with the latter vying for the deputy leader spot.
Following the morning session of the House of Assembly, Dr Minnis seemed unbothered by the news, expressing certainty and repeating his newly coined campaign slogan that everyone would “Roc with doc”.
Earlier, while making his contribution to the 2016/2017 budget debate, Dr Minnis was resolute as he addressed issues within his party, saying: “We are now preparing for a convention and I will enter as leader and I will emerge as leader of the Free National Movement.
“The delegates, Mr Speaker, will ‘roc with doc’. The young people will ‘roc with doc’. The Family Islands and the entire Bahamas will ‘roc with doc’. My deputy will ‘roc with doc’.
“As I look at their faces (government MPs) I can see their grimaces. I know, Mr Speaker, they are prepared to ‘roc with doc’.
“The 5,000 plus children that I have delivered into this world who are now able to vote will ‘roc with the doc,’” he said, referring to his time as an OB/GYN. “I say to them, Mr Speaker, I delivered (you) safely into this world and it is now time to deliver me and the FNM.”
He added: “Speaker, I thank the almighty God for giving me the fortitude to persist in my duty in the face of a firestorm of criticism from within and without.”
Later responding to a question from The Tribune about the leadership race, the embattled party leader said he believed in democracy. He said the party’s delegates would remember him as a leader with concrete plans and elect him as their leader once more.
“It is a democracy,” he told reporters. “Once it’s a convention all positions are open.
“I believe in democracy, I have no doubt that I will go in as leader and I will come out as leader. I am not concerned about that.
“The Bahamian people know what I am all about. The Bahamian people know that I am more concerned about uplifting them and I want to create tax free zones. I want to ensure that their electricity stays on. We will make sure there are decreases.
“I want to make sure they have more disposable cash so that they can spend it within the communities.
“They understand, they understand. I want it clear. People say I am against Bay Street. No I am not against Bay Street. I only want to see the wealth and opportunities spread to the inner city and beyond.”
“I will go in as leader and I will come out as leader and I know that if you were there you too would ‘roc with doc,’” Dr Minnis added.
Mrs Butler-Turner and Dr Sands finalised their decision on Saturday and informed Dr Minnis and FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest of their intentions on Sunday.
The pair ran for the same positions in 2014 and lost to the current leadership duo, though they did not run as a team on that occasion.
“It is not lost on either of us that we would’ve attempted (to win posts) at the November 2014 convention but all I can say is that in life, defeat is only final if you don’t get up and try again,” Dr Sands said when contacted by The Tribune on Sunday.
For her part, Mrs Butler-Turner said she endorsed all Dr Sands had to say about the matter. She declined further comment.
The leadership battle comes at a delicate time for the FNM, as Dr Minnis is believed to have only agreed for the early convention to take place after six parliamentarians, including Mrs Butler-Turner, threatened to seek his removal as leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Assembly.
Dr Minnis’ tenure as leader has been defined by intra-party friction, creating fractures in the party.
Nonetheless, when he was challenged in 2014, he defeated Mrs Butler-Turner by more than double her number of votes.