With the Free National Movement’s (FNM) leadership convention set for tomorrow, Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis said yesterday that he believes he can offer a different kind of leadership to the party.
Lewis, who described himself as a “people person”, said he wants to represent the “common man”.
“People want something that is different. I often say, I am not a politician,” he said.
“I don’t know politics, but I know people. I refer to myself as a people-tician. I understand people.
“And whereas others might say every man has a vote, I say, no, every vote has a man or a woman attached to it.
“And when you treat a vote as a person, as an individual with needs and who has something to offer, then it’s better for all. So, I am all about people, understanding that it’s not only numbers. A vote is not only a number. That’s a real, living human being …”
Lewis added, “I am for the common man. I am for the base. I am something different.”
Lewis is running against East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson and Marco City MP Michael Pintard for leadership of the party.
The convention, which is the FNM’s first since 2016, follows a devastating loss at the polls on September 16, which saw former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his team win just seven out of 39 seats in the House of Assembly.
Many viewed the loss as a signal of the need for change in the FNM’s leadership.
Lewis said yesterday that the election results were a wake-up call, and showed that things must be done differently.
“No matter what, you don’t ever become too comfortable,” he said.
“You listen to your base, you listen to your people. You give the youth a seat at the table and listen to the youth.
“… Listen to our women’s association. Give them a seat at the table. I’m serious about the empowerment of the youth as well as the women in our party. And, as such, as a member of the [Torchbearers] signed my nomination form. The second person was a woman from the women’s association. So, I’m serious about empowering those different associations in our party.”
While many view Pintard and Kwasi as the favorites in the leadership race, Lewis said he believes he has a good chance.
“I’m in the race to win,” he said.
“I believe that I can win any race that I enter. And, of course, I mainly represented The Bahamas in the relays, so it was all about teamwork. And I have a strong team working with me in this leadership race.”
While he admitted that he did not see himself in this position just months ago, Lewis said he believes he has the skills needed to help the FNM regain ground.
“There was nowhere in my mind, leadership, absolutely not,” he said.
“I was content being a member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama. I was the minister of youth, sports and culture and had other posts in the government.
“And I was content doing that, but understanding that we do have some issues in the party, there has been some disconnect, the current leader … made the declaration that come the convention in November, he would no longer be seeking leadership in the party, so there’s an opening.
“And me, being a builder and someone who likes to solve problems, someone who understands a foundation, a base, understanding what needs to happen, I decided to step into this new season in terms of leadership. And so, I believe I have what it takes to reignite and to reunite this party.”
Lewis added, “Obviously, if we were fully united, and on the same page, the outcome of September 16 would have been totally different.
“So, obviously, there is a disconnect.
“People feel disrespected. They feel disenfranchised, like they weren’t listened to.
“And, of course, now it is time for us to do away with that. The election is over. We now need to go out and apologize to those who we would have offended, admit to our missteps and start the healing process and the rebuilding of our party.”