By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis says he will continue trips to the Family Islands despite Official Opposition criticisms that the visits are being used for political campaigning.
He said the Progressive Liberal Party’s opposition was because they were not accustomed to Family Island inclusion.
“I know (Philip) ‘Brave’ Davis is listening and let me answer straight,” Dr Minnis said on Saturday during a press briefing at the VIP Lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport.
“When we came in, I made a solid commitment to the Bahamian populace that when there are national events, after budget or any matters that are of concern especially to the Bahamas we are not Nassau-centric. It’s important that the Family Islanders know too and I will go to the various islands explaining those particular national issues - how we came to decision, how we spend their money etc.”
He continued: “What is important is we live in a bubble, in isolation and many believe that Nassau is the Bahamas, very Nassau-centric and we believe that when I speak here that Andros is listening, Cat Island is listening etc. We’re wrong. When you go through you would be surprised they don’t have the proper communication. You’d be surprised that Cable Bahamas is not shown in that particular area or settlement or that island. You’d be surprised they don’t have ZNS. So, going through they are more than happy to welcome their prime minister who comes through and is showing an interest and explaining what is happening throughout the Bahamas. They are now understanding that the Bahamas is not Nassau. It’s not Nassau and that’s a commitment we made and I will continue.
“The opposition is not accustomed to it. Now when they talk about election whenever we call election then you will see what campaigning is all about.”
Last week, PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper accused Dr Minnis of “campaigning using the people’s money.”
However, Free National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer defended Dr Minnis against these claims, saying Dr Minnis’ trips are more than a campaign tool.
At a town hall meeting in Exuma more than a week ago, Dr Minnis announced major capital works projects for the island. He also used the address to taunt Mr Cooper, saying every time he mentions Mr Cooper’s name, the Exuma MP announces that “he is going to a lawyer to consult to sue.”
Mr Cooper then fired back at these comments, criticising Dr Minnis for introducing politics to this event.
“I had hoped, beyond all reasonable expectation, that when the prime minister visited Exuma over the weekend he would speak to the community about beneficial developments for Exuma and leave politics out of it,” Mr Cooper said in a statement last week. “I was mistaken.
“Not only is it comical that the prime minister seeks credit for capital works that have been developed over successive administrations, it is offensive that he is campaigning using the people’s money.
“If he would only resist the temptation to be petty and realise he should be the prime minister of all the people of the Bahamas, not just FNMs, we would all be better off for it.”
Mr Cooper also accused Dr Minnis of “trying to turn public sentiment against the PLP” because the opposition party did not support the government’s decision to secure a $100m credit facility from the Inter-American Development Bank.