At an event that was billed as a town hall meeting, but quickly took the shape of a political rally, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis last night launched his re-election bid, touting his record in office, lashing critics and declaring that the victory train is officially on a roll.
“FNMs, will you join the victory train?” Minnis asked scores of supporters at Edmund Moxey Park.
“Will you board the victory train? The victory train will not stop until 2022 when we disembark to be sworn in at Government House.”
During a meeting for central constituencies on New Providence, Minnis touched on popular issues like the decriminalization of marijuana.
“Many of those who are arrested are from my area, from the inner city,” he said.
“We must look after our own. I say we must free the young people and as I stand here tonight, I send a notice to our prison wardens. I send a notice to our prison officers that they must get ready to free our young people.”
He also hit at Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis for taking what he characterized as politically expedient positions like the support for marijuana decriminalization while failing to address the issue while in office.
“When they were in office, they did nothing about this,” Minnis said.
“I don’t remember the current PLP leader using his power when he was deputy prime minister to change the laws to help those unduly burdened by those convictions.”
The prime minister also chided the opposition leader for recent criticisms of a newly introduced single-use plastics ban even though the opposition voted for the new law in Parliament in November.
Additionally, Minnis said despite opposition criticisms his Over-the-Hill initiative is seeing success.
“I want you to listen carefully,” he said.
“To date, $941,299.45 in benefits have been given to applicants from Over-the-Hill in business license exemptions, commercial vehicles, stamp and real property tax and building materials.
“Yet, the confused leader of the opposition said recently in a press [statement] after a walkabout in Bain Town — he didn’t even know he was passing my house — after a walkabout in Bain Town that the program is not working.”
Minnis accused the PLP of spreading misinformation in an attempt to regain power and warned FNMs about the source of information they accept.
“They want to confuse you,” the prime minister said.
“They want you to believe things that aren’t true so they can get back in power. They want to get back into that treasury and empty it this time. I advise you to read and follow responsible news. Don’t just believe things people forward to your phone.”
The prime minister also spoke of his government’s commitment to young Bahamians.
He said 1,056 students have taken advantage of his government’s free education program by enrolling in the University of The Bahamas.
Minnis projected a 10 percent annual increase in “young people who could not get a college education” enrolling in local tertiary institutions.
“…We also recognize that many students in the Family Islands were disadvantaged and could not pay accommodations here in New Providence and we gave them an opportunity and provided $500 to each of them, who can attend the university here, to assist them with their accommodation and today 178 individuals are taking advantage of that,” he touted.
On January 30, the government will break ground on the University of The Bahamas’ new residence and multipurpose complex, according to Minnis.
He said the complex will have a 1,000-bed capacity and more than 50,000 square feet of common areas including a fitness center, study rooms and a 200-seat dining hall.
The prime minister’s rallying of the troops comes at roughly the mid-point of its term, with a number of legislative and other pledges not yet fulfilled.
Minnis last night assured that his administration is on track to complete much of what it committed to do.
In a swipe at the PLP, Minnis declared the FNM “knows how to catch crabs”.
“You have to be strong and cut their biters off right away,” he said.