The Free National Movement is bigger than Peter Turnquest

Dear Editor,

Regarding the troubling allegations of fraud concerning Alpha Aviation Limited, Advanced Aviation Limited, and Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, the East Grand Bahama MP should be given the full benefit of the doubt by the Bahamian people.

Since assuming the posts as MP for East Grand Bahama in 2012 and DPM and Finance Minister in 2017, Turnquest has acted in his parliamentary and Cabinet positions with integrity and professionalism.

Unlike a certain internet news source, Bahamians should not act as judge, jury, and executioner due to partisan politics.

That is for the courts to decide, not social media and its plethora of armchair legal experts.

Turnquest will have ample opportunity to clear his name.

However, as a political observer, I think it would be in the best interests of the Free National Movement (FNM) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the Turnquest family for the East Grand Bahama MP to resign from his Cabinet post, at least until this matter is all cleared up.

By shedding the awesome responsibility of overseeing The Bahamas’ finances, Turnquest can focus his undivided attention on dealing with his legal matters.

By staying put, Turnquest has unwittingly derailed the FNM’s anti-corruption agenda, while simultaneously breathing new life into the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which has already experienced a strong surge of popularity among tens of thousands of Bahamians who are wary of Minnis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pundits have claimed that the Turnquest legal matter will weaken the FNM’s chances of being re-elected.

With the recent election loss in the United States by President Donald Trump, owing to the fallout from COVID-19, Turnquest, I believe, won’t figure prominently in the minds of Bahamian voters in 2022, COVID19 will.

Bear in mind that prior to COVID-19, Trump’s economy was performing at record levels with the jobless rate being in the low single digits.

Trump seemed poised to win re-election.

That all changed when COVID-19 became a health factor in North America in early 2020.

The Minnis administration will be judged on the basis of bread-and-butter issues stemming from COVID-19, I think.

For what it’s worth, the FNM cannot look at the Bahamian people with a straight face and declare that it is serious about stomping out corruption while the Fred Kaiser allegations are hanging over the head of a prominent Cabinet minister.

Again, this is not to suggest that I believe Turnquest is guilty of the allegations. Based on my layman’s opinion, this matter seems to be politically motivated.

Undoubtedly, Minnis views Turnquest as a key ally who stuck with him through thick and thin while the Loretta Butler-Turner faction wreaked havoc within the FNM.

With his inner circle of individuals who he can trust dwindling, this can help explain why Minnis has given the appearance of being reluctant to terminate Turnquest, even at the risk of damaging the FNM’s brand.

Personally, I don’t even consider Turnquest as being a vintage FNM like a Brent Symonette or a Tommy Turnquest – both of whom are second-generation FNMs.

The East Grand Bahama MP was allegedly courted by the FNM and PLP in the lead-up to the 2012 election, due to his rising stock in the Freeport business community as former Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce president and an accomplished accountant.

As FNM leader, Minnis is tasked with protecting the torch at all costs, even if it means hurting the feelings of a loyal ally.

To Minnis, what is more important: Turnquest or the FNM?

Herein lies the awkwardness of the Turnquest legal situation that Minnis finds himself saddled with.

Minnis and the FNM should circle the wagons around their beleaguered colleague.

But at the end of the day, Minnis will have to come to terms with the fact that the Free National Movement is bigger than Peter Turnquest.

– Kevin Evans

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