Oswald Brown Writes
By OSWALD T. BROWN
Whenever Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham decides which current sitting Free National Movement (FNM) Members of the House of Assembly shall not be included on his team of candidates for the next election, I wonder whether he would still use Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette as his “messenger boy” to take the bad news to those FNMs he has decided to dump, as he did in the case of fired Minister of Housing Kenneth Russell.
There surely could not have been a more egregious insult to Russell, who had been totally loyal to Ingraham and considered him to be a friend, than to have Symonette inform him that he would not be asked to run again as an FNM candidate, as dictated by Ingraham.
In my way of thinking, more than anything else, this was responsible for Russell making up his mind to challenge Ingraham’s decision and eventually accuse him of being a “dictator” and a “tyrant.”
Many hard-core FNMs are still questioning this ruthless and cruel decision by Ingraham to use Symonette to tell his “good friend” Russell that he had outlived his usefulness as an FNM Member of the House, and they are reportedly getting prepared to take a firm stand against him if reports are true that his “hit list” of persons he will not invite to be candidates in the upcoming election include FNM Chairman Carl Bethel and Speaker of the House Alvin Smith.
There is no question that Ingraham will be in for the fight of his life if he targets Bethel as one of those he will not run, given the fact that Bethell was quoted in a recent article published in The Nassau Guardian as saying: “Yes, of course, I am seeking renomination for the Sea Breeze constituency, which I presently represent. I look forward to receiving the nomination to serve the good people of Sea Breeze.”
Of course, Speaker Alvin Smith does not have the same political clout that Bethel has as Chairman of the FNM and one of the “young political aspirants” who cut his teeth in politics by coming up through the ranks of the party from being president of the Torchbearers, the youth arm of the FNM, when Ingraham was still a member of the PLP.
What’s more, Bethel is the son-in-law of Sir Arthur Foulkes, the current Governor General, who was a member of the Dissident Eight that established the FNM with moderate members of the disbanded United Bahamian Party (UBP) in 1972.
But there is a distinct possibility that Ingraham may have decided to do battle with all the original FNM’s at this juncture, having made up his mind that he will go into retirement quite comfortably as one of the richest men in the country and with a very generous pension of more than $100,000 a year if he loses the election.
It is this premise that has been the basis of speculation that he may even target Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest as one of those he will attempt to persuade not to run. This, of course, is wishful thinking. There’s no question that Tommy’s father, Sir Orville Turnquest, arguably is still the most powerful FNM in The Bahamas, even though he retired from active politics years ago when he became Governor General and set a standard for occupants in that prestigious post that is only now being matched by Sir Arthur Foulkes.
So it is almost a certainty that if Hubert Ingraham had a bad dream that he would seek to retire Tommy Turnquest from politics, he would have realized by now that he did not have a “bad dream,” but rather a nightmare.
Another person who is reported to be on Ingraham’s “hit list” is Byran Woodside, MP for Pinewood. The big question is, “Why?” Ingraham has indicated that he is seeking to run “new faces” and “younger” candidates. Woodside is completing his first term as a House Member and he certainly is relatively young and from all appearances did a commendable joy as a Junior Minister, so why should Ingraham target him for retirement?
To tell the truth, if there is one “relatively young” FNM House Member that should not be running in the next election it is Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing, MP for the Marco City constituency in Grand Bahama, who has sufficient baggage related to alleged nepotism that should make him a prime candidate to be asked to seek another profession. But Laing happens to be Ingraham’s hand-picked heir apparent for the leadership of the FNM, and he can’t do anything wrong as far as Ingraham is concerned.
Nonetheless, one thing is certain: No matter what slate of candidates Ingraham runs in the next election, the FNM will lose the coming election by a huge margin. Voters have only got to look at the impressive slate of excellent candidates that have already been announced by the PLP, including some absolutely brilliant young professionals, to make up their minds that the PLP is their best hope to restore good governance to this country.