Several Cabinet ministers yesterday expressed optimism about the Free National Movement’s (FNM) chances of being re-elected as the current term nears its end.
Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister said the Minnis administration will be judged on what it has accomplished.
“This Cabinet will be judged on the basis of what we have done,” he said.
Asked if he believes the FNM will win the next election, Bannister said: “There is no question about that. In my mind, no question. There is going to be a second Minnis term as prime minister.”
Bannister asserted that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has managed the COVID-19 pandemic in a “masterful manner”, as he claimed The Bahamas is doing well compared to other countries across the region and the world.
“The one thing that stands out is that the prime minister has managed this pandemic in a masterful manner,” he said.
“…I just want you to compare what is happening in The Bahamas now and the fact that you all can be right here talking to me as compared with Trinidad and Barbados and any other countries around us.
“The number of infections that we have in Jamaica this past week, I think several hundred in one day, with England being closed down, Canada being closed down.
“Just look around the world. All of Europe is essentially closed down. Asia is closed down.
“The Bahamas is one of the few countries in the world where we have had the kind of leadership, which enables us to have this type of feeling right now.”
As of Monday, there were 8,477 cases of COVID-19 recorded in The Bahamas, the second-highest number in the English-speaking Caribbean behind Jamaica.
While new cases have declined significantly in recent months, last year, Bahamians faced a brutal second wave of infections that saw thousands of people infected and left more than 150 people dead before being contained.
Bannister, however, said he believes the Minnis administration is “on sure footing”.
“This is the second time I have served in Cabinet,” he said.
“This is the administration that I believe is on very sure footing. We have outstanding leadership, and we are leading this country in a manner that I have never seen exist.
“There’s very strong leadership, very assured leadership, and, like I said, leadership that has taken us through the pandemic in a manner that very few countries have been able to do.”
Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson also praised the government’s management of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, my sister was the first one who met her demise as a result of COVID,” he said outside Cabinet.
“So it’s still very fresh. It’s still very real.”
Johnson added, “But looking generally as to how we’ve done, I think we’ve done extremely well, considering that what we thought were stringent measures, the world and the U.S., if you look at the U.S., are taking draconian measures.”
Johnson said he believes Bahamians are frustrated but are not blaming the Minnis administration.
“I think we have done exceptionally well,” he said.
“And there is still room for improvement.”
Johnson added, “I think we’re looking very good.
“Obviously, the frustration index is high and the good thing, when I go through my community, they’re not putting it at the feet of the Minnis government.
“When men and women are unable to take care of their families — they can’t go to work, the bills are still coming, the food has to be there — they fully appreciate that we can’t feed everybody, that you can’t pay every light bill, but it is still frustrating.
“And so, for me, I am fully capable of giving an account of my stewardship as a minister and as a member of Parliament.
“…I think we’re looking very well. We just have to push and, at the end of the day, God’s will be done. In a constitutional democracy, you have to accept the will of the people. And that’s the beauty of it all.”
Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd similarly said he is confident in the Minnis administration, particularly given the circumstances it has faced over the past few years.
“I don’t have any concern about the FNM administration,” he said.
“We are a committed administration to the advancement of the Bahamian people and I am very confident about the leadership of Hubert Alexander Minnis and what he has done over these past…four years in terms of what we have been having to face as a government – firstly, coming to office with [Hurricane] Irma, and then of course [Hurricane] Dorian and now the pandemic.
“And we are continuing. We are the envy of the Caribbean in the way we have handled the COVID-19. Our numbers of infections are in the single-digits. This is a record that I am very proud of.”