Oswald Brown Writes
By OSWALD T. BROWN
We now have a fairly good idea why Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing abandoned his Marco City constituency in Grand Bahama.
Norris Bain, who has been selected by the governing Free National Movement (FNM) to replace Laing in Marco City, provided what appears to be convincing evidence that Laing was forced to desert Marco City because the leadership of the FNM decided he could not win against Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate Gregory Moss.
In his maiden address as a politician at the FNM’s nationally televised launch of its Grand Bahama candidates at the Grand Lucaya Resort in Freeport on Sunday, Bain thanked Laing for “stepping aside to allow me to represent the good constituents” of Marco City. Bain went on to thank Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for having “the fortitude to arrange this new group of candidates to take Grand Bahama to the next level.”
This clearly suggests that Ingraham had the final say in Laing’s decision to forsake the residents of Marco City, which is not surprising, given the fact that Ingraham more likely than not dictatorially hand-picked all of the candidates that the FNM has chosen to contest the next election.
Laing, of course, will discover that Ingraham, who is his mentor, did not do him any favours when he convinced him to run for the Fort Charlotte constituency in New Providence. The word out of New Providence is that Dr. Andre Rollins, the PLP’s candidate for Fort Charlotte, will give Laing a worse beating than he would have gotten from Gregory Moss in Marco City.
No matter what Laing does, he can’t run away from the Mona Vie scandal that was a major topic back in 2008 involving serious charges of nepotism. As I’ve noted in previous commentaries posted on Facebook, according to information that surfaced at the time, Laing’s sister-in-law, who was one of the importers of Mona Vie, complained to him about the change in duty on Mona Vie, and he reportedly requested that the Secretary of the Revenue look into the matter. Subsequently, the Comptroller of Customs allowed the lower rate of 10 percent to remain in place until the new budget process.
The revival of the Mona Vie scandal certainly created a dark cloud over Laing’s political future and that cloud was made even denser by fresh claims of nepotism related to the alleged fast-tracking of his brother-in-law to become the Assistant Comptroller of Customs in Grand Bahama. This latest nepotism claims are based on the fact that Laing, as Minister of State for Finance, has responsibility for Bahamas Customs.
But let’s get back to the FNM’s launch of its five candidates for Grand Bahama. It was obvious from their addresses that the three “new faces” that Ingraham has picked to run in Grand Bahama are not ready for the challenges that lie ahead of them in the political arena as they seek to erase from the memories of Grand Bahamians just how bad and vindictive the FNM government has been towards Grand Bahama, in general, and Freeport in particular over the past four-plus years.
Peter Turnquest, who is the FNM’s candidate for East Grand Bahama, spent considerable time thanking and praising former Housing Minister Kenneth Russell for the good job that Russell did as the representative for High Rock, the constituency that comprises most of East Grand Bahama.
Surely Turnquest must be aware of the fact that Russell was forced to retire as MP for High Rock in the most brutal manner by Prime Minister Ingraham, who rubbed “pepper into Russell’s ”emotional wounds,” so to speak, by sending Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette to inform him that he would not be running again. The question that political novice Turnquest should have asked himself before he voiced high praise for Russell was this: If Russell was such a good representative, then why did Ingraham decide to fire him in such a humiliating manner?
Pakeisha Edgecombe, who has been given the task of unseating PLP incumbent Obie Wilchcombe in West Grand Bahama and Bimini, for the most part during her address exhibited the speaking skills she developed as a news anchor at ZNS-News 13 in Grand Bahama, but she was obviously nervous because she failed to recognize the Prime Minister’s presence before she launched into her speech, during which she repeatedly declared that she was proud to the an FNM.
The question that I have for Pakeisha is this: While you were main news anchor at ZNS-News 13, did you agree with Ingraham’s vindictive cancellation national broadcasts of ZNS news out of Grand Bahama mainly for what many are convinced were personal reasons aimed at downgrading Freeport’s importance as The Bahamas’ second major city?
I’ve already mentioned Norris Bain’s political “foot-in-mouth” remarks, so it is quite obvious that the three “new faces” chosen by Ingraham as candidates in Grand Bahama will be nothing more that “political groupies” who will be so much in awe of Ingraham that they will not dare question any deleterious decision that he makes, thus solidifying his dictatorial control of the FNM.
Of course, the two incumbent FNM representatives who are seeking reelection—Neko Grand in Central Grand Bahama and Kwazi Thompson in Pine Ridge—demonstrated that they are also afraid of Ingraham’s wrath by remaining silent over the past four-plus years as Ingraham totally neglected Grand Bahama and rigidly imposed policies that wrecked Grand Bahama’s economy, resulting in an unemployment rate in excess of 20 percent and tremendous pain and suffering by far too many residents of Grand Bahama.
Grant at one time was considered to be at the top of Ingraham’s list of incumbents to be denied a nomination, but he has unquestionably benefitted from the brutal manner in which Ingraham fired his good friend, Housing Minister Kenneth Russell, who subsequently referred to Ingraham as a “dictator” and a “tyrant.” Grant showed that he was appreciative of being given “new political life” by Ingraham by repeatedly thanking him, during his address, for giving him the opportunity to “anchor” the FNM’s Grand Bahama team of candidates.
What’s more, despite reports that many FNMs in Grand Bahama are not at all pleased with the slate of candidates personally selected by Ingraham, so much so that some of them reportedly boycotted the launch of the FNM candidates, Grant predicted that the FNM will win all five seats in Grand Bahama.
No one in their right mind who lives in Grand Bahama would agree with such a prediction. Indeed, given the neglect of Grand Bahama over the past four-plus years and the pain and suffering being experienced by far too many workers on the island who want to work but there are not jobs available, the opposite may be true. I’m convinced that the PLP will win a minimum of four seats in Grand Bahama and there is a better-than-average possibility that incoming Prime Minister Perry Christie will have five Grand Bahama members of the House from to help him restore good governance to this country.