North Abaco Speaks, And The FNM’s Leader Speaks The Unbelievable

North Abaco spoke in Monday’s by-election and has decided who it wants to represent them in Parliament.

In a democracy, the will of the people must be respected, and since our Prime Minister tonight declared that none of his by-election campaign promises made to Abaco were idle, Abaco should be able to look forward to all that was promised to them through the election of their new Member of Parliament. That, by the way Mr. Prime Minister, cannot happen if the people of Abaco are terminated for their political affiliation – either perceived or otherwise – or if people are in any other way mistreated or denied their constitutional rights because they did not support your Party and its candidate, now MP-Elect, Mr. Renardo Curry.

Let me declare my interest up front and say that a number of the FNM officers and supporters who worked tirelessly on the ground for a victory in Abaco are either friends of mine or persons I know, and I express my personal regret over the disappointment you are feeling tonight. For those who know and understand, selfless service to a political party is an act that draws on the mind, body and soul of a supporter, and so any outcome, whether it be victory or defeat, impacts the whole person. This I know well and personally, and so I both sympathise and empathize with my friends tonight.

There is another disappointment that I also must speak on, because of the sheer shock I experienced upon hearing the words of the leader of the Free National Movement following his Party’s loss at the polls in North Abaco.

Commenting on former FNM leader, 35 year North Abaco MP and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s support throughout the by-election campaign, FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said of the by-election loss:

“The Ingraham factor will now be behind us and we must see the new FNM moving forward and the direction I want to take them in.”

And with those words, the leader of the FNM in my view both parked, then cemented himself in the dictionary under the word “manless.” Who concedes his Party’s loss by taking a swipe at one of his own?

In a democracy, when a political Party loses an election, the leader, if he or she is mature and fully fills the shoes he or she wears, not only promptly concedes once the loss is known, but also takes full responsibility for their Party’s loss at the polls.

That is what Hubert Ingraham did when the FNM suffered its crushing defeat at the polls on May 7 of this year.

But the new leader of the FNM, says the by-election loss is the trigger to the “Ingraham factor now being behind us”, that he can now take the Party where he wants it to go, and that he now wants the country to see the “new FNM.”

Amazing. So, the leader of the FNM has told the nation several things tonight. First, he has told the nation that though he is in the post of leader of the FNM, he has not seen himself as being the leader of the Party until the night of October 15. Highly odd given that his Party unanimously made him the leader of the Free National Movement at its special convention several months ago.

If the by-election loss “now” enables him to take the Party where he wants it to go, where has he been taking it for the past five months? What has he been doing for the past five months if it has not been taking the Party in the direction he sees fit as leader?

He has also told the nation that he does not see the loss as something he should be held responsible for, since his inference is that the “Ingraham factor” was an apparent roadblock to the FNM’s post-general election progress up until the night of the by-election loss.

But perhaps the most embarrassing thing Dr. Minnis has told the nation through his comment, is just how much the legacy of Hubert Ingraham, the man who led his Party, led his country and gave him the opportunity to become an MP and Cabinet Minister, bothers him.

Progressive leaders build on the successes of their predecessors, and in the case of the FNM, the successes are voluminous. Why a new leader would seek to want to put that “behind us”, meaning put it behind his Party, is mind-boggling, especially given that he is a new leader who has virtually no experience in his new post, and could certainly benefit from the experience, wisdom and acumen that his predecessor possesses.

Ingraham was and is a great leader, but that doesn’t mean Dr. Minnis cannot be great in his own way too – unless of course he does not see himself as being able to do so.

Incidentally, if one wants to stick to the raw political science of things, the “Ingraham factor” as it pertains specifically to North Abaco, is a factor that would be envied by any lifelong and pioneering politician, as Ingraham was able to win that seat 8 consecutive times under three different political banners – the PLP, Independent and then the FNM – a feat never accomplished by any other politician in Bahamian history. It is a clear and inarguable indication that no matter which Party he went with, North Abaco fully supported not only the man Hubert Ingraham, but also his “factor.”

I have personally never seen concession remarks where a leader takes a ruefully unjustifiable swipe at his Party’s statesman, but welcome to The Bahamas I guess, and if it is that the FNM determines among its ranks that it needs to truly move toward unity going forward, the Party’s leader has aptly demonstrated tonight that he is not the person to teach them how to walk down that road or even locate it.

I am certainly in no position to suggest to the FNM what direction it needs to go in moving forward and make absolutely no attempt to do so here, but as a Bahamian concerned about the future of this country, I do hope that if the FNM plans to be the strong Opposition all healthy democracies must have for the good of its people, its leader and those desirous of leadership grow up, revere God enough to appreciate all who and that He has given them, and learn that a tree can never grow if you keep trying to cut it down.