Though it is doubtful any administration could have survived a pandemic that saw the economy essentially shutter to the lifeblood of tourism for the better part of a year, former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis so frustrated the Bahamian people during his tenure that many observers found it remarkable that the Free National Movement (FNM) managed to hold on to seven seats.
The turnout at the last general election was the lowest in the modern era, which signaled shifts in voter enthusiasm and voter participation.
FNMs refused to support Minnis, and then-opposition leader Philip Davis failed to electrify the electorate.
As it turns out, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was electric enough to wash away the historic gains in the House of Assembly the FNM oversaw in 2017.
What is true today was true last September – Minnis is no longer good for the FNM’s brand.
And nobody knows that more than the PLP.
It is no coincidence that Prime Minister Davis has spent months on end attempting to deconstruct the achievements, and besmirch the reputations, of those involved in Minnis’ brainchild National Food Distribution Task Force.
It is also no coincidence that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority and the affordable homes for young professionals initiative have been closely scrutinized by the current administration.
Though the prime minister claims that Minnis suggested to an official in his organization that the Public Beaches and Public Parks Authority be investigated for pre-election contract matters, Minnis has denied this.
It does not require a great analytical mind to understand how a public investigation might have hurt St. Barnabas MP, and former head of that authority, Shanendon Cartwright, as he made his intentions to run for deputy leader of the FNM clear.
Cartwright handily beat St. Anne’s MP Adrian White – a political newcomer widely viewed as the Minnis-supported candidate – for the FNM deputy leader position in February.
Prior to that, the FNM elected Marco City MP Michael Pintard as its leader last November.
Any illusions that Minnis would humbly sit by the wayside as the FNM sought to rebuild its brand have certainly now been put to rest.
Minnis has become more vocal and apparently more out of step with the party’s leadership, since the last election.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said last October that the FNM was looking for “a more inclusive leader, someone who is willing to embrace all of the various segments of the party … who is willing to be open to consultation and advice from others, who will be confident in who they are and be able to express themselves with confidence and display the kind of vision and strength that is necessary to lead a party like the Free National Movement going forward”.
Those are worthwhile traits for a leader, many of which Pintard embodies.
But also useful in a leader is the ability and willingness to thoroughly wield his power to entrench himself so deeply in the party that even his own parliamentary caucus cannot bring him down – something Minnis perfected.
Pintard, who recently publicly complained about Minnis, said he does not feel threatened by the former prime minister.
He need only examine the recent history of his party to understand two things – loyalty means very little to Minnis and the trail of tears of those who have underestimated him is long indeed.
Whether he realizes it or not, Pintard has a Minnis problem.
Every time the former prime minister speaks out of sync with the party, the PLP salivates at the opportunity to bring up the worst aspects of the FNM’s recent record.
And instead of focusing the Bahamian people on how he plans to transform the FNM, Pintard has to explain who actually speaks for the FNM.
Pintard is a consensus builder, but there is a time to build and a time to destroy.
Pintard should understand what time it is, and rule out no political option moving forward.