Politics in The Bahamas requires “loyalty, fortitude and political maturity,” Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said during the funeral of former Cabinet Minister the late Tennyson Wells at Christ Church Cathedral yesterday.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to individuals like Tennyson Wells, who offer themselves for public duty and service,” Minnis said.
“As I have noted on a previous occasion: ‘For our parliamentary democracy to work, there must be cohesive, disciplined political parties in Parliament, parties whose members are bound together generally by a set of objectives and principles.’
“Like other democracies, our party-based system requires loyalty, fortitude and political maturity by those who answer the call to service their fellow-citizens in government and politics. Tennyson answered this call. He sacrificed for what he believed.
“He did not just sit on the sideline and complain about what was wrong with The Bahamas. He made a contribution and had a distinguished career.”
One of the founding members of the Free National Movement (FNM), Wells, who represented Bamboo Town, also served as the attorney general and minister of agriculture and fisheries in the Ingraham administration.
He died in his sleep on September 28.
While Minnis praised him as a loyal party supporter, Wells left the FNM and later became an independent representative for Bamboo Town in 2002.
The attorney and businessman ultimately found his way back to the party, and in the run-up to the 2017 election, threw his support behind Minnis.
In February 2018, Minnis appointed Wells president and chairman of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI). He had developed a roadmap for BAMSI intended to help reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.
Minnis said Wells was an “FNM warrior who entered the frontlines of national politics in order to secure democracy and freedom in The Bahamas”.
“Along with the founders and other freedom fighters in the Free National Movement, he demonstrated the courage and the tenacity to enter the arena and to fight for what he believed,” he said.
“He fought against victimization and other threats to our democracy.”
Minnis’ comments about loyalty came one day after Centreville MP Reece Chipman resigned from the FNM.
Chipman said government’s handling of Hurricane Dorian was a key reason for his decision to resign and become an independent member of Parliament.
Chipman was highly critical of the Minnis administration.
In June 2017, he was one of four FNM MPs to vote against the government’s decision to increase value-added tax.
In October 2018, he also voted against the government’s decision to lease the Town Centre Mall —which is owned in part by then-Cabinet Minister Brent Symonette — for the relocation of the General Post Office.