Russell responds to being fired
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is a “dictator” who should not be allowed to run the Free National Movement as a “one man show”, charged former Housing Minister Kenneth Russell, who was fired from his post yesterday.
The High Rock MP said there was no good reason why he was booted from Ingraham’s Cabinet and told The Nassau Guardian he had exceeded the government’s expectations for the Ministry of Housing.
“If the prime minister decides to fire me for whatever reason, that’s his business, but I don’t consider myself as doing anything wrong to be fired,” Russell said.
“If my push to have business come to Grand Bahama is what caused him to fire me, then so be it. If my push to get as many houses built and change the Ministry of Housing to a better place is what caused him to fire me, so be it.”
Russell suggested that the only reasonable explanation he could give for his sudden firing was his refusal to leave frontline politics when the prime minister told him to retire.
Russell said Ingraham called him on Monday and told him he was not going to be a part of the FNM’s 2012 election slate.
The MP said he told friends of his displeasure with Ingraham’s plans – something Russell thinks did not go over well with the prime minister.
“The prime minister called me on Monday and indicated that he is not going to run me anymore,” Russell told The Nassau Guardian from Grand Bahama, about an hour after he flew to that island after leaving his former ministry in Nassau.
“I told some of my friends about it and I said to them, ‘I don’t know who the prime minister thinks he is, one man in the party telling me he [isn’t] running me anymore’.
“On Wednesday, he said to me he wanted to see me at his house at 8 o’clock that night. I couldn’t make it because I was going to a function with the Torchbearers (the FNM’s youth arm).
“On Thursday, I had the opening of the Pride III (subdivision) and the groundbreaking for the other subdivision… He only could see me this morning (Friday).
“So I came to Freeport, had a meeting last night (Thursday) with my executives and I flew back to Nassau this morning. I walked into his office at about 9:30 (a.m.).
“He said to me, ‘You said to somebody, who I think I [am]?’ He said, ‘I will show you who I am. Give me your resignation by 12 o’clock.’ I said, ‘Or what?’ He said, ‘Or I will do what I have to do.’ I said, ‘Fine, do what you have to do.’ I shook his hand and left the room.”
Although his firing seems sudden, Russell said he knew more than a year ago that there was a rift between himself and the prime minister.
He added the prime minister’s recent actions were the actions of a tyrant.
“I told the prime minister a year and a half ago that he is still my friend, but obviously he no longer has me as a friend. The moves that Ingraham has made so far with the boundary cuts and what he told me about he’s not running me anymore and what not, they are moves of a dictator,” Russell said.
“I worked with him a long time and this is the first time I have seen this negative side of him.
“The prime minister was my friend. In fact, we are related. The same aunties and uncles he has in Cooper’s Town (Abaco), so do I.
“I don’t know why he turned this way, but I have no problem with it; it’s his choice to make. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is always with me, and even though Ingraham would attempt to slay me, I still love him.
“I was surprised at the way he handled this and what he is doing. He may have justifiable reasons in his mind; I don’t have any. I thought he was a good leader… I told people [under] the rough exterior he was a compassionate man.
“I told people that Ingraham will give you the shirt off his back if necessary. I will stand by that for the time being until he proves to me otherwise.”
The MP said he is still is a member of the Free National Movement and plans to apply for a nomination on the party’s ticket for the new East Grand Bahama constituency.
“The FNM is my party. I’ve been there from the beginning and I will continue to work with the FNM, and I intend to seek the nomination of the East Grand Bahama constituency for the FNM in the next general election,” Russell said.
As for what he will do if he is not selected as an FNM candidate, Russell said: “I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now I am the FNM member of Parliament for the High Rock constituency and I will be seeking the FNM nomination for the new Eastern Grand Bahama constituency.
“We have the right to apply. It should be no one man show, one man selecting who the candidates are. The candidate’s committee and the council of the Free National Movement should be selecting the candidates for the FNM party.”
Russell said he plans to be in Parliament when it meets Monday, but does not know where he will sit. Prior to his firing, he sat next to Ingraham.
Earlier this week, a defiant Russell — a member of Parliament for 15 years — said his party could lose thousands of votes if he is not renominated.
Yesterday afternoon, the Cabinet Office announced that Russell had been relieved of his ministerial responsibilities because of conduct inconsistent with his duties.
Minister of Works and Transport Neko Grant has assumed Russell’s portfolio.