Leaders should know when to quit, and stay out
I received an interesting article from a colleague as I prepared to write this letter: “Knowing when to quit is an important part of being a good leader”, an opinion piece by Al Jazeera’s Tafi Mhaka.
I could add to that in my best Bahamianese: “And knowing when to stay quit is even more important.”
It was prescient in its content given two letters appearing in the last week regarding the fortunes of the Free National Movement (FNM).
In the piece Mhaka, who is African, praised the decision of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, who announced on January 19 that she will not seek re-election and resign no later than February 7.
Conversely, he took several African leaders to task for not knowing when to quit – Paul Biya, the 89-year-old president of Cameroon who has been in power since 1982, and Yoweri Musevini, the 78-year-old president of Uganda.
Here at home, the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the acknowledged father of the modern Bahamas, was dosed with that reality on August 19, 1992 when the Bahamian people sent him packing after 25 years in power. He would not leave until after another defeat in 1997 and health issues forced him to step aside.
His chosen successor, but not the man who replaced him as prime minister, Perry Christie, made some history of his own in 2017.
After winning the general elections in 2002 and losing in 2007 to his former law partner Hubert Ingraham (the three-time prime minister who’d faithfully promised to serve for only two terms as prime minister, but allowed himself to be drafted back into service), Christie roared back to office in 2012 with a stunning defeat of Ingraham who finally got the message and resigned from the House of Assembly.
Despite a promise to demit office halfway into his term (promises, the currency of politics!), Christie refused to quit and became the first sitting prime minister to not only lose his government but also his seat in the 2017 elections to Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Dr. Minnis, the first non-lawyer to be prime minister, was also to make some history of his own as the shortest serving prime minister, who, by calling elections eight months early on September 16, 2021 (another of his many questionable decisions), was defeated by another of Christie’s law partners, Philip Brave Davis.
Minnis could only be called snake-bit because the shortest serving prime minister was also plagued with a monster hurricane, the likes of which have never been seen in this region (Dorian) and a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic (COVID-19)!
Rightly or wrongly, the Bahamian people, and, equally as important, members of the FNM, decided that he was a bust as prime minister and sent him out to pasture!
All of this retelling of history is to say to any who may be aggrieved and anxious, let sleeping dogs lie and stop trying to raise the dead!
Ingraham’s era, as declared by Dr. Minnis himself, is over. So is the Minnis era.
To emphasize that point, close to 180,000 decided Minnis was not the man!
That number includes the 66,407 who voted for the PLP and the 30,000-plus Bahamians who decided to stay home, most of them die-hard FNMs, the largest drop-off in Bahamian voting history!
They were confirming Ingraham’s words about Sir Lynden all those many years ago: “Y’all think only one woman could born a prime minister, ay?”
Since that debacle in September 2021, Michael Pintard, duly elected by his party, has done yeoman’s work, first repairing a fractured party almost destroyed by Minnis, then with his team, holding this runaway, photo-op government of Brave Davis to account for its profligate, law-breaking, globetrotting, spendthrift ways.
Pintard is not a blowhard who believes he should throw hand grenades in the Parliament, then slink out like a wounded cur after they explode.
Instead, he has offered to help this clueless government with suggestions on any number of issues, from crime to the economy, all of which have been rejected by the PLP.
We expect soon to hear from Pintard on his plan for the engineering of a new Bahamas that the public can see, understand and believe.
In the meantime, we are not going to join anyone or let go unchallenged efforts to cannibalize our leader and our party.
There is indeed lots of work left to do and all FNMs and Bahamians of goodwill are welcome to come aboard.
— George Knight