A golden opportunity

As the Free National Movement (FNM) heads into a convention for leadership next month, it must realize what is at stake – the party’s very soul.

Though that may sound hyperbolic, we assure you it is apt.

Dr. Hubert Minnis should have never become leader of the FNM, much less prime minister.

The party foolishly allowed him to stay on as leader after losing dozens of seats in the last election.

And in that short time, he has repeatedly displayed why he is not good for the party.

He oversaw the worst COVID-19 wave we experienced while his administration floundered and called an election replete with superspreader events in the midst of it all.

Yet he is now expressing concern about the rising COVID numbers as if he didn’t travel repeatedly with those from New Providence – always the epicenter of the pandemic – to almost every inhabited island in this country.

He should realize the majority of the public no longer takes him seriously.

We agree with Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell who recently said Minnis should hang his head in shame.

However, it appears he has none.

That or self-awareness, considering that his election gambit failed.

Now he will return to the House of Assembly, while his acolytes in Cabinet, who did not have the courage to cross him and enabled and encouraged his autocratic attempts to control a pandemic and his vainglorious preening as the victims of Hurricane Dorian were repeatedly failed, look for work.

The blame is far from being on Minnis’ Cabinet colleagues alone; there is plenty to go around.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham bears some of the blame.

He should have never handed the reins of a party he carefully nurtured for decades to a man in whom he reportedly barely had confidence as a member of his Cabinet.

More at fault would be those in the FNM whom Minnis and his adherents sniffed out for any hints of disloyalty and carved out of the supposedly democratic organization; People like former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle, who Minnis was careful to taint with suspicion as she headed out the door.

Of course, she was not alone.

There were many others, including those who actively expelled the seven MPs who presciently warned of Minnis’ unfitness to lead.

Under Minnis, the party that was formed through dissension became the party that had no stomach for it.

After all of this and so much more, one wonders what the FNM’s council members were thinking by allowing Minnis to stay on last month.

He was clearly only stalling for time.

Even now, he is putting out his feelers to gauge his level of support within the party should he run for leadership, even after promising he would not do so.

The FNM seems to be struggling with not only the fact that it lost an election badly, but seems to have missed why it lost.

To be clear, the FNM no longer sits in government because of Minnis.

The constant backtracking on the party’s promises, the brazenness of going the extra mile on things the party vehemently stood against in opposition and the pedantic manner in which Bahamian citizens were treated for so long certainly didn’t help.

But at the end of the day, it was Minnis the people rejected.

Beyond considerations of whether the Bahamian people have developed a permanent appetite for changing governments every five years, the FNM should no longer want to associate its brand with Minnis.

There are thinking, compassionate, eloquent, confident men and women in the FNM who can lead the organization moving forward.

One of them appears to be former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

Turnquest, who remains FNM deputy leader said last week that the party expects Minnis not to run next month.

He said the party is looking for “a more inclusive leader, someone who is willing to embrace all of the various segments of the party…who is willing to be open to consultation and advice from others, who will be confident in who they are and be able to express themselves with confidence and display the kind of vision and strength that is necessary to lead a party like the Free National Movement going forward.”

What about any of that sounds like Minnis?

The party should not squander a golden opportunity to move on.

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