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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Prepare, the Ingrahamites are near!

Ever since the opposition party, The Free National Movement, elected their leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, in a snap mini-convention and with Dr. Minnis having staved off and cut off a surging challenge from his fellow opposition member of parliament colleague, Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner, his leadership has been met with fierce criticism from persons within his own party. Most of which are from a small, but yet powerful faction of persons loyal to their former leader and former prime minister of The Bahamas, The Right Honourable Hubert Ingraham.




None more prominent in the cacophony of discontent within The Free National Movement with their leadership is that of the former deputy prime minister under Mr. Ingraham, Frank Watson.




Mr. Watson has said that the current leader of the FNM is tone-deaf to his, and other's, suggestions on how the party should proceed. He also said that the party is in serious problems if Dr. Minnis's current style of management continues. He was directly quoted as saying that the current Chairman of the FNM is "talking nonsense" and that the Chairman is "out of the loop" with the real players in the party. And that was just last week!




Without a doubt Mr. Ingraham has left an indelible mark on Bahamian politics. The first prime minister in the era post the near invincible Sir Lynden Pindling, and having served three terms to boot. Quite a feat in a modern and fair democratic government process for anyone from anywhere in the world to have served as leader for more than ten years, whether consecutively or non-consecutively.




Of course, this means that there are a lot of people that are very, very loyal to Mr. Ingraham. No doubt, he has in fact helped a great deal of people. He also had an uncanny knack for placing people in strategic positions in the public and private sector, persons who have been able to maintain and make valuable contributions to our country.




However, as with many a leader in democratic, and not-so-democratic fashion, the love affair between them and the people often go sour after it becomes stale and methods become ineffective. Good enough for us that his departure from front line politics was met with peaceful transition, and not with a coup or some form of violence. I am proud to be a Bahamian on that score. Truly.




Mr. Ingraham was beaten by his immediate predecessor and his successor to his first term in office. To be succinct: The current prime minister, The Right Honourable Perry Christie, had a one term stint in between Mr. Ingraham's terms of service. Mr. Christie won in 2002, lost in 2007 and then won again in 2012.




What's also a pretty well known fact is that Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham share a very funny distinction: They were both fired as cabinet ministers at the same time on the same day under the same circumstances under the Sir Lynden Pindling government.




Without labouring through the often times murky and gossipy reasons as to why they were fired, to cut a long story short: Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham ran as independents in that subsequent election that the governing party, The Progressive Liberal Party, won, with Mr. Christie opting to go back to the PLP and Mr. Ingraham opting to go with the FNM and then becoming prime minister in 1992.




Sure enough, along with that distinction, they also, as reports claim, share a close bond and friendship. They were former law partners in addition to standing as God parents for each other's children. They also share the same, small group of friends and associates.




Leading anyone who does not fall into the spell of the occult-like style of politics in The Bahamas: We have essentially been ruled and governed by the same small group of people for over the last 20 plus years.




Regardless of what anyone tells you, even with a strong man like Mr. Ingraham: No one runs a country by themselves. All strong leaders, and more so with not-so-strong leaders, have supporters, cronies, lackeys, bag men, go to guys, key writers, image makers, covert operatives and public relations gurus that all play a part in making them look on the ball, as well as their relational associates and family ties that hold them down, at all times.




To go even further with this relationship that both men share, during the 2007 campaign and at a campaign rally when Mr. Ingraham won that election year, Mr. Ingraham remarked in a quite jovial, but yet sneering and mocking manner, at a point where then sitting prime minister Christie, during a time where he had fallen ill and had to take an indeterminate time of leave, had asked him to "run" the cabinet and the country until he had time to convalesce and get back on his game. By-passing his then deputy, Cynthia "Mother" Pratt and the rest of his cabinet ministers in the PLP.




So, essentially the "Ingrahamites" aren't just near, they probably never left. Which is quite important for our country, because as mentioned previously: Ideas, ways of doing business, methods, people and their minds become stale and ineffective. While continuity is important, quite frankly, when you look at our daunting issues: Who wishes that?




When you sit in one spot for too long you become immune and blind to what's around you. You don't see "the problems", you just continue with your solutions which you feel worked 20 years ago and so they must work today. This is even worse for those that are eating their fair-square 3 meals a day and have no worries about those meals tomorrow.




This clearly suggests, at least over the last 10 years, the same solutions have not been productive or user friendly. To say the very least.




With all of that being said however, I think this is a perfect time to hear from former prime minister Ingraham.




The way he left after the 2012 election was, to put it quite mildly, abrupt, seemingly callous and a little selfish. It was like the Bahamian taxpayers wasn't allowing him a salary and leeway to do what it is he was charged to do. This was a lot worse than the first time he left the scene, more or less, at the height of a mild recession after he had lost in 2002. The state of affairs then was not "this bad".




The country has not fully recovered since the 2008 global recession. Unemployment is still stubbornly up; the ease of doing business rankings are slipping; investment, both local and foreign, is not vibrant and with the latter we need less of and more of the former; crime is still miles high; public services are still reeling from the ravages of the recession and morale is low because more burdens were placed on them;  and the overall sentiment from Bahamians is one of hopelessness amidst waves and waves of missteps and oversights that turned into full-blown fiascos under the current administration, all at a time when we need concerned and concerted consistency and clarity on all fronts.




I mentioned to one of my colleagues just recently that I would like to hear from Mr. Ingraham about all and sundry, regardless of how it looks now: From the current state of the economy, the way we look internationally, how he feels businesses can be better served, how the small and not-so-small can better integrate themselves into the process he left behind and his overall outlook on his party, the FNM and the fighting that is looking very, very nasty.




To be fair, he did not give us our just due as citizens in giving a full account of his tenure. A de-briefing, of sorts.




Even a very prominent businessman, Franklyn Wilson of Arawak Homes, feels the same way as I do. He too also wants to know, and in particular, why did Mr. Ingraham leave South Eleuthera at such a disadvantage as Mr. Wilson has lamented in one of his recent discussions with reporters.




Some have suggested, and this is probably why persons like Mr. Ingraham's former deputy Frank Watson and a few others have been getting antsy and vocal as of late, that Mr. Ingraham is planning a comeback. Stronger than when many feel he usurped power of the FNM from leader elect Tommy Turnquest and put his name in the hat at the FNM's convention leading up to the 2007 general election.




I can only laugh, especially considering all we know now and all we read in only this submission. Laugh because Mr. Ingraham, Mr. Watson and the others loyal to the Ingrahamite cause, if this is the case, may as well come out as full, card carrying members of the governing PLP. That ought to make this into the full scale spectacle that those and sundry want us to be embroiled in and one that it appears to be.




One of my colleagues, a very seasoned man and one who was in the mix back in the day and knows both Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham very well, assured me that both men speak to each other on a regular basis on governing The Bahamas and that Mr. Ingraham's input is seen and felt every day. I can believe that! **sips tea**
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