By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis told Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday “to stay out of the FNM’s business” as he castigated the nation’s leader over his recent admission that he had not visited his own constituency in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, saying this was proof of “absolutely poor representation.”
In an interview with The Tribune, Dr Minnis said while the prime minister attempts to tell FNM MPs to “resist” him (Dr Minnis), he was certain that those living in Mr Christie’s constituency - Centreville - will resist him in the next general election.
Last week in the House of Assembly, the prime minister urged FNM Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn and St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman to “resist with all your might” any attempt by the opposition leader to end their political careers.
Mr Christie also accused Dr Minnis of keeping both sidelined MPs in the dark on nonpartisan hurricane relief efforts for their respective constituencies.
“I only want to say to the prime minister, to stay out of FNM business,” Dr Minnis said when he was contacted.
“He needs to pay more attention to his constituency. The same constituency that he admitted in Parliament that he had not visited during or after the hurricane especially at a time when they needed to see and hear from their member of Parliament. So what that’s showing is that their cries and their needs fell on deaf ears. It showed poor representation, which unfortunately then spilt over to his performance as leader of this nation, absolute poor.
“You must remember that this is the same prime minister who did not spend the constituency allowance that was given to him to help improve and upgrade his constituency,” Dr Minnis said, referring to Mr Christie’s actions while he was in opposition.
“Instead it was sent back to the treasury department.
“You must also remember that this is the same prime minister who said when I had asked about the hospital renovation being delayed and postponed, this is the same prime minister who said I quote he ‘will not listen to any gynaecologist.’
“Maybe that’s why we are having so much crime and these problems in his country because he has forgotten that his national security minister (Dr Bernard Nottage) is a gynaecologist and he is not listening to him. He must also remember that his government’s leader of business in Parliament is a gynaecologist. So how can he make a bold statement that he will not listen to a gynaecologist?”
Last Thursday during continued debate on a resolution for the government to borrow $150m to aid in Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Joaquin relief and reconstruction efforts, Mr Christie accused Dr Minnis of pushing a political agenda in the aftermath of the most recent hurricane.
At the time Mr Christie said: “The intention was to put you in the position where your constituents would have seen you delivering supplies, information, doing all the things you should do. The intention was to strengthen the delivery of services in this country.
“I directed NEMA, based on personal experience, that every member of the Parliament should have a new team assembled, a multifaceted, multidisciplinary team assembled, and to call the leader of the Opposition and advise.
“(Minnis) had three and he didn’t tell his members. Now I understand there’s infamy here in the ranks, clearly he did not count the member for Montagu and he did not count the member for St Anne’s.”
Mr Christie added: “When we said that we wanted to establish the teams, it was a non-political decision to be able to empower the member of Parliament to lead the way, to be able to bring quick relief, and to move out of any thought of political manoeuvring because the MP would have the carriage of what is happening in there.
“Much to my surprise, I’m in here having to listen to members tell me they didn’t know, that’s not fair to the government, not fair to the process, that is wrong,” Mr Christie added.
To this, Dr Minnis said he immediately called persons responsible to ensure that constituency association chairmen sent to the relevant individuals. The Killarney MP said that he was informed that his instructions were carried out, and as such, did not know why the information did not get out to the respective MPs.
Mr Chipman and Mr Lightbourn are among six FNM MPs who threatened to have Governor General Dame Marguerite remove Dr Minnis as leader of the Official Opposition if the party did not set an early convention date. They - along with Loretta Butler-Turner, Neko Grant, Theo Neilly and Dr Andre Rollins - also wrote a memo to the party’s Central Council earlier this year outlining Dr Minnis’ weaknesses and failures as a leader.
Mr Chipman recently withdrew his name from consideration for a renomination, saying it was clear that Dr Minnis no longer wanted his contribution. Mr Lightbourn has also previously said he would not be a candidate for the FNM in the next election, despite earlier saying he had plans to run again for the party.