By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WHILE telling reporters he will not reveal some of the details surrounding Centreville MP Reece Chipman’s firing as chairman from a government corporation, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he did what he believed was “right”.
This decision he said will not hurt his relationship with Mr Chipman, who was on Saturday fired by the prime minister as chairman of the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation.
“I do what I think is right,” Dr Minnis said yesterday. “You voted for me to do a job. I told the Bahamian people that if there is any undoing or what I consider against our policies in either party be it the Progressive Liberal Party or Free National Movement, then we would deal with it appropriately. We (are) just dealing with society.
“I don’t think some details I will give to you, but the records will always be there so that whichever government comes behind, the records will always be there,” he said in response to a question on whether he would explain to Bahamians what led to Mr Chipman being fired.
Dr Minnis made the decision after giving the MP an ultimatum to either tender his resignation or be terminated.
However, Dr Minnis said he could not divulge details because he had not yet informed his Cabinet. It is unclear what the prime minister meant as the Cabinet Office issued a brief statement on the firing on Saturday.
In an interview with The Tribune Sunday night, Mr Chipman said he had high expectations of the Office of the Prime Minister, which were not met, but added he regretted that things had escalated to this point. He also said the civil service is filled with “political prostitutes” which will hinder forward movement unless this problem is weeded out.
Asked if he had concerns about this, Dr Minnis said yesterday: “I don’t know what that means. I don’t use the word prostitute so I would need that broken down.”
He also said: “No (I am not concerned). I always say whatever I do, I put God first and I am led by my conscience and once my conscience is cleared, I’m happy. The FNM made a commitment. We said we would govern in a certain manner in a certain way.
“We said we would root out corruption and bring honesty and integrity into governance and that we will do, we will stay the course, nothing will change us.”
On Friday, Dr Minnis gave the first time MP until noon Saturday to resign.
However, Mr Chipman refused, stating in a letter sent to the prime minister and parliamentary colleagues ahead of his axing that he would only do so if Permanent Secretary Jack Thompson and several other high-ranking government employees at the AMMC also submitted resignations.
He further claimed the AMMC was operating outside of the law and also suggested the government was following the status quo of the previous Christie administration.
When asked if there was any bad blood between him and the prime minister, Mr Chipman said Sunday: “I don’t know where he is with it. I just know from my perspective I just had higher expectation of not him in particular, but of the Office of the Prime Minister and I think that’s where the line is for me, my expectations were not met. It’s a difference in expectation. I wish him all the best with his role and, of course, I wish my administration the best moving forward but there is a level of expectation one would expect when we look at public service and higher office and in that regard, I think there is a lot of work to be done.
“It’s always regrettable when any organisation or administration gets to the point where obviously whether there is a lack of communication or just a lack of attention is given to certain areas,” he said when he was asked if he had regrets.
He continued: “I think that the letter (sent to the prime minister) spoke to campaigning against a system and when a system of governance is filled with what I term political prostitutes it’s going to be difficult for us to move forward unless we rid ourselves of that type of injection in the public service.
“I think it’s important for the constituents of Centreville to know my take on it. And it’s also important for you to, in terms of the fairness of reporting, to understand both sides. Because the prime minister will have to say his interpretation of what transpired, I don’t know whether he will or won’t and then I guess we’ll have an opportunity to clear the air at some point.
“But it is important for us to acknowledge that we have a tough job. I do understand that the prime minister has a tough job. I do understand our administration has a tough job, however, there are some little things that are important. Like respect, like adequate relevant communication, clarity with regard to the law and with regard to corporate governance principles. Otherwise what will trickle down is a bunch of foolishness and that is not something I am going to be good at tolerating,” Mr Chipman said.
In his letter to Dr Minnis, dated March 23, Mr Chipman said his request for the resignations of Mr Thompson, Deputy Permanent Secretary Carol Johnson and Director of AMMC Dr Keith Tinker were based on several concerns, which he claimed were brought to the attention of AMMC’s board of directors.