STATEMENT FROM THE FNM:
The Opposition and its Leader are caught in a cleft stick, a classic catch-22 situation in which the party is floundering and Perry Christie is flailing about as if his political life is in jeopardy – which it is.
The party’s prospects for winning the next election are quite slim and there is little the leadership can do to change things. The Opposition is in desperate need of reform and house-cleaning.
Those in the higher echelons know that they cannot win with Mr. Christie (most of them did not support him for leader in the first place) but they realize that any attempt to get rid of him at this late hour will run the risk of ripping the party apart.
In fact, the Opposition may have arrived at the stage where it is impossible to have a democratic vote on the leadership in convention. This is because Mr. Christie has stacked the deck by appointing hundreds of stalwart councillors who can easily out-vote elected delegates and councillors.
The Opposition’s dilemma is exacerbated by the fact that the FNM Government, under the capable leadership of Hubert Ingraham, is doing a remarkable job in keeping the country afloat during the worst global economic storm in generations.
Not only that, Prime Minister Ingraham and his colleagues are carrying out the greatest infrastructure renewal in generations. New road corridors are being opened up, new utility lines are being laid, a new airport is well on the way to completion, the new airport gateway project has begun and a new Straw Market sits proudly on Bay Street.
The Baha Mar project and the new stadium and transformation of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre — which Mr. Christie could not get off the ground – are both underway. Furthermore, Mr. Ingraham and his colleagues have launched innovative initiatives such as unemployment benefits, and training and placement programmes in collaboration with the private sector.
In the face of all this, Mr. Christie does what he does best – talk – and the closer the day of reckoning gets, the more reckless and outrageous he becomes in his public statements. But there is method in his madness. He knows that he is not convincing the majority of his colleagues, or the majority of Bahamian voters. His strategy is to impress those hundreds of stalwarts who keep him in office.
From the very beginning of the global economic downturn, Mr. Christie and his colleagues sought to convince the Bahamian people that the FNM Government was to blame by stopping, reviewing and cancelling all those wonderful projects they said they had on the drawing board. That line failed to gain resonance as the straw market was in fact built — and at a nearly half the cost the Christie administration had planned.
In winning the last election and cancelling the Opposition’s plans for the straw market and a $3-million school in a small Family Island settlement, the FNM in fact saved the PLP from more embarrassing scandals that were clearly in the making. In the process, Mr. Ingraham has enraged some PLP “special interests” who would have benefitted handsomely at the public’s expense.
So Mr. Christie has simply changed his tack and is looking somewhere else for “resonance”. Now he has done an about-face and is in essence complaining about all projects that the FNM has undertaken which has added to the national debt.
But the country’s affairs are being well-managed and the country is not “insolvent” as was foolishly and irresponsibly proclaimed by Mr. Christie’s Finance-Minister-in-waiting Ryan Pinder.
Prime Minister Ingraham and his Government have done exactly the right thing in taking advantage of the country’s good credit to borrow money to improve the infrastructure and provide jobs during the economic recession.
The Opposition is in a sad state. As Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing noted, the Opposition continues to praise themselves for what they did not do, while criticizing the Ingraham administration for all the good things it has and continues to do to improve the quality of life of every Bahamian.