Just after the Free National’s Movement (FNM) defeat at the polls on May 7th, 2012, former prime minister and Member of Parliament elect for North Abaco, the Rt. Honorable Hubert Ingraham declared that he would retire from politics on July 19, 2012. This date would have marked his 35th year as a member of parliament.
The FNM held a special conclave shortly after the general election and elected Dr. Hubert Minnis as the new leader of the party. But we all know that Minnis was only a figure head to this point and that Ingraham was still calling the shots. In mid July, the FNM had a council meeting to elect a candidate for the North Abaco bi-election. Minnis called on the press to be present when the candidate was supposed to be selected and introduced to the Bahamian people. This never happened and the press never got the announcement that they came to hear. The announcement was postponed. Obviously, Minnis was not privy to the pre-decision of the FNM council, because had he known he would not have called a press conference.
The fact that Ingraham rescheduled his retirement from politics to allow Mr. Greg Gomez’s to satisfy his eligibility to become a candidate is clear evidence that Gomez was not Minnis’s choice.
However, politics makes strange bed fellows and Minnis’s compromise may eventually cost him the leadership of the party.
There are several things to consider here.
(1). The former prime minister is well aware of the fact that the governing party usually wins bi-elections, especially the ones right after the general elections.
(2). He is acutely aware that Greg Gomez had been absent from Abaco over the last 10 years and that the people of Abaco are a thinking people.
(3). He had to know that picking a weak candidate would certainly not be in the best interest of the FNM or Minnis, but maybe in the best interest of himself. This was a bad loss for the FNM. A stronger candidate certainly would have fared better and given Minnis’s leadership some form of legitimacy.
Mr. Greg Gomez and the FNM got a good beating in the North Abaco bi-election. Even the political pundits say that this came as no surprise.
Just after it was obvious that Gomez would be defeated, Ingraham gave a concession speech on behalf of the FNM. Does he believe that he is still the leader of the FNM? Of course not!! This in my view was another of Ingraham’s chess moves to weigh in on the public commentary, specifically by FNM ‘movers and shakers’.
Several statements in Minnis’s concession speech, as the leader of the FNM in my view were very timely. Although he appeared stunned during the interview, he remarked that the Ingraham era is over and that it is time to build a new FNM. He was ultimately trying to shake off Ingraham and let the ‘Ingrahamites’ know that he is in charge and that it is time for a new day. He also said that the he and the FNM lost the election, as opposed to taking all of the blame himself. The reason he did this is because he knows that the candidate was not his choice but Ingraham’s hand-picked choice.
Maybe Minnis’s speech came a little too late because there is uneasiness in the FNM and all roads lead to the party’s leader. The late Charles Maynard said that Minnis has 12 -18 months to prove himself. Minnis must know Loretta Butler Turner and others are salivating at the mouth waiting to strike.
History tells us in 2006, that Mr. Ingraham told Tommy Turnquest that he had no interest in becoming the leader of the FNM. A few days later, the deal was sealed and Turnquest was on the outside looking in and Ingraham was the new elected FNM leader.
Ingraham is a master politician and if he returned to challenge for the leadership of the FNM, it would certainly not surprise me. It appears that he has already made some very calculating moves to date.
He still commands respect in the FNM and certainly in the country. Will he return to lead a now stumbling FNM party? Time will certainly tell us all.