By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
A FREE National Movement trustee has urged party leader Dr Hubert Minnis to step down from the role to allow the organisation to refocus its efforts and become a viable force in the future.
Shango Woodside, FNM National Trustee in Grand Bahama, believes Dr Minnis fell out of touch with members of the party, leading many of them not to show up at the polls to vote on Thursday.
The Progressive Liberal Party was ushered into governance after winning, unofficially, some 32 of the 39 seats in the country’s general elections.
Almost all of the FNM Cabinet Ministers lost their seats in Parliament. FNM Chairman Carl Culmer said based on statistics that he saw, only about 38 percent of voters turned out to the polls.
This contributed to victory for Philip “Brave” Davis who was sworn in on Friday as the 5th Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in a private ceremony at the Office of the Governor General.
While he had little to say of the election loss, former deputy prime minister Frank Watson said the time was now for FNMs to come together to decide who they want to lead them.
“I think one of the reasons why we lost the election is because the leader of the party lost touch with average people,” Mr Woodside explained. “I am the one who really sold him to the people of Grand Bahama in terms of them accepting him as leader. People felt he was non-charismatic and not a good public speaker. I told them that his leadership would be different, and they bought it.
“What really happened afterwards is that it seems as if when they got into power they forgot about the average people, and this now is the result. They never listened to anyone on the ground and arrogance began to kick in. The communication just went south. We tried to explain to them, but nobody was listening.
“Many FNMs are disgruntled, unenthused, not excited, just not inspired or motivated to come out and vote. Calling the snap election was a mistake on the leader’s behalf. It was a horrible mistake that backfired on him. I personally like Dr Minnis as a person, but I think it’s now time for him to step aside and for us to choose a new leader. We need a new leader a.s.a.p.”
The trustee downplayed the PLP’s win saying FNMs just did not go out to vote.
“What I saw in this election, people were not interested in voting for our leader or the prime minister elect,” he continued. “The FNMs stayed home, you can see that from the lower voter turnout. They had no interest. So, it wasn’t really a defeat by the PLP but instead actually FNMs just not coming out to vote.
“What actually put the icing on the cake was the feedback after Hurricane Dorian. They tried to sell that the leader was a compassionate person through the rest of the community, but he didn’t show it. He started to lose plenty popularity. There was low turnout overall.
“The FNM is known to have a lot of falling out when they are in opposition and take long to organize itself and get together, but I am advising my party not to sleep on the PLP but to organise an opposition in and out of the House of Assembly. So, we have to choose a leader and organize ourselves short and quick.”
After the FNM trustee laid bare his thoughts about FNM’s loss at the polls, The Tribune spoke to Mr Frank Watson, who was deputy prime minister under a previous Ingraham administration.
For his part he said: “I think they have to come together and determine who is going to lead them,” Mr. Watson said. “Then after they have chosen a new leader, they need to start the groundwork that they need to win.”
Mr Culmer also chimed in saying not only is it now time to regroup, but to also figure out why the FNM was defeated at the polls.
Culmer also mentioned the low voter turnout.
He said: “When you look at it we must find out the reasons why we lost and correct them immediately. When I look at the stats in regard to the electorate who voted, there was only 38 percent who voted. It was really not a major percentage of people at the polls who voted PLP.
“We need to find out what went wrong and why the people rejected us and build from there. We have already started our plans. We had a meeting today with a number of our stakeholders. We have a plan to bring our party back together. We are going to bring all of our members who may have grievances with the party together and at the end of the day we will be victorious whenever the next election is called.”