Ingraham: 'I don’t do obeah; I only do my work.'

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Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham addressed a crowd of jubilant supporters in celebration of the party’s victory in the Pinewood election court challenge. Thousands also tuned in via ZNS TV as the Prime Minister blamed the Christie PLP for the massive confusion caused in the May 2 general election.

Nassau, The Bahamas – Prime Minster Rt. honourable Hubert Ingraham once again rolled out a ‘sea of red’ rallying supporters on RM Bailey Park on Thursday night, to celebrate the government’s win in Pinewood election court challenge, where MP Byron Woodside was the declared winner. Woodside won the recount by 49 votes, defeating PLP incumbent Allyson Gibson.

Prime Minister Ingraham told thousands of Bahamians that gathered on the park and viewed via ZNS TV that the election flaws were the results squarely due to the delay in the boundary changes stalled by former Prime Minister Perry Christie.

“In 2007 the PLP once again set out to create confusion and they did create confusion that led to the disenfranchisement of voters entitled to vote in the constituency to which they had been transferred by the boundary changes.

“These are the people who continued to live at the same addresses they were at when they registered to vote. How was a resident of Pinewood supposed to know that the Government moved them elsewhere?” Mr. Ingraham said

A Full Text of the Remarks by
Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham/Prime Minister
at
FNM Pinewood Election Court Victory Rally
R. M. Bailey Park
Thursday, 24 January 2008

Good Evening FNMs,
Good Evening Bahamas:

We gather in great numbers to re-affirm that which all and sundry know except those who are so blind, so deaf and so shocked; the PLP is out, the FNM is in.

They will stay OUT; we will stay IN until at the earliest, the year 2012.

The Election Court has reaffirmed what you did on May 2.

Byran Woodside was, and is, the parliamentary choice of Pinewood!

And, the FNM is the party of choice of the good people of The Bahamas to lead their Government.

They went to Court; they lost again!

They counted it again – and again – but the result was the same: the FNM is the Government of the Day.

May 2nd was no fluke; it is for real Perry!

Thank you again, Bahamas.

My Fellow Bahamians:

They have been counting and recounting ever since May 2nd.

The ballots were counted on 2nd May; the count lasted until around 11 PM. The result was Woodside IN, Gibson OUT!

Allyson kept saying “count it again”.

And, they counted it again. Same result.

Byran Woodside won; and Allyson Gibson lost.

On the following day they counted again — all day long. In fact, they finished that count at almost midnight.

The result: Byran Woodside won; Allyson Gibson lost.

And then they went to court. And they counted again.

The Result: Byran Woodside won; Allyson Gibson lost.

Now they want to count again in Marco City and they want to count again in Blue Hills.

The results will all be the same. The FNM won; the PLP lost.

I told you before the Election that I like the number 7.

The PLP won 18 seats in the Election; they’re down to – guess what? 17!

And if, only if, they go down to 16 that would still make it a 1 and a 6!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is truly unfortunate that those who oppose us continue to find it difficult, nay impossible, to accept their defeat at the polls.

They prefer to live in denial.

They prefer to hold out false hope – to themselves and to some of their supporters – trusting that if they ignore reality, they can find a way to return to power – or at least to hold on to the leadership of their party.

So they ignore reality.

They blame everyone except themselves.

Eight months later they are still in denial.

These are the actions of big men and women who want to lead The Bahamas.

Even after the Ruling of the Election Court, they are still in denial. And, they are looking for someone to blame.

They say the voters of Pinewood are to blame.

They say the good people who were mistakenly registered as residents of Pinewood are to blame.

I’m not talking about a single foreign national who may have corruptly purchased a voter’s card.

I’m talking about more than 100 Bahamian citizens who were disenfranchised as a result of the ineptitude, the incompetence and the late boundary changes.

I’m talking about more than 100 Bahamian citizens who had their right to vote taken away because of inaction and slothfulness and confusion in the electoral process.

You know at first they claimed 266 persons had voted wrongly in Pinewood. Then they reduced the number by 107 persons to 159; then they reduced it still further to 127 persons.

That’s 139 people whose good names they chose to sully by alleging that they had wrongly registered to vote in the Pinewood Constituency.

And they did this, sullied these peoples names even before they bothered to check on where those individuals actually resided.

But they were pleased by the confusion.

They expected that their planned confusion would work to their advantage.

Some of the disenfranchised voters have lived in the same house for 20 years. They did not move.

Perry Gladstone Christie and the PLP moved the boundary lines and left these people on the Pinewood register of voters. And that is where they cast their votes – in Pinewood.

It was Perry Christie who chose to change the constituency boundaries late; it was Perry Christie who chose to cause voter’s cards to be issued in a rush.

The boundary changes were so late that they actually missed the deadline set out in the Constitution.

Let me remind you that the Constituencies Commission made its report more than 4 months after the date which the Constitution required the report to have been given.

Remember that Article 70 of the Constitution of The Bahamas says that the Constituencies Commission “shall ….at intervals of not more than five years review the number and boundaries of the constituencies.”

This means that the Constituencies Commission must review and make a report not more than 5 years after the last report.

When I was last in office the Constituencies Commission made its report on the 7th November, 2001 five months before I dissolved the House of Assembly for the 2002 elections.

I gave the Parliamentary Commission ample time to make the changes that were needed. I gave him ample time to do the job properly.

There was no mass confusion on Election Day in 2002. People had ample time to collect their voters’ cards. This is how it should be done.

But not so with Perry Christie!

Under his watch, the Constituencies Order was not made until 26th March, 2007. The Polling Divisions Order was made the following day, and he dissolved the House of Assembly eight days later on the 4th April, 2007.

He gave the Parliamentary Commissioner eight days between changing the boundaries and dissolving the House.

Now tell me, who do you think is to blame for the mess the voters in Pinewood and the other constituencies in New Providence found themselves in?

Now they talk about changing the law. Well, first they have to learn to obey the law, obey the Constitution.

Now they charge the Parliamentary Commissioner and his staff with responsibility for the mistakes, mistakes made because he, Perry Christie, forced them to work under terrible pressure and at breakneck speed.

And they blame the citizens, who were confused by all the rush; who did not question whether their voters’ cards had been issued for the correct constituency or polling division.

They never had to question it before.

They had always been able to rely on the Parliamentary Registrar’s office to register and issue their voters’ cards with great ease and efficiency.

Citizens took comfort in the fact that The Bahamas has one of the cleanest Voters Registers in our region, including North America.

They had no reason to believe 2007 would be any different. They were blind-sided by a wicked plan designed to cause confusion.

They set out to confuse; their plot backfired. Or, put another way, the gun misfired, instead of hitting the target, it hit the shooter

Now they want to rewrite history.

He claims that he and the PLP were not there when Mr. Taylor supposedly paid $1000 for a voter’s card.

And, he says that he and they were not there when people were registered who were not qualified to register.

Well, if they weren’t there, where were they?

He was the Prime Minister, as he never failed to remind us. His party was the Government!

The last time a Government of the PLP created confusion, disenfranchised large numbers of people and engaged in skullduggery was 20 years before May 2, 2007; that was in the 1987 general election.

Subsequently, they agreed to make substantial changes in our election laws and procedures.

These changes were effective. The 1992 election was conducted in accordance with the new laws and procedures.

The process worked smoothly. The FNM won.

The 1997 general election was also conducted in accordance with the new laws and procedures.

The process worked smoothly. The FNM won.

And so was the 2002 general election conducted in accordance with the new laws and procedures.

The process worked smoothly. The PLP won.

That was not the case in 2007.

In 2007 the PLP once again set out to create confusion and they did create confusion that led to the disenfranchisement of voters entitled to vote in the constituency to which they had been transferred by the boundary changes.

These are the people who continued to live at the same addresses they were at when they registered to vote. How was a resident of Pinewood supposed to know that the Government moved them elsewhere?

Now they don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions.

Everybody, they say, everybody except the PLP, are to blame.

Well that’s not right.

They were there; they were the Government.

To abdicate responsibility now is cynical; it’s unfair; and it is unbecoming of the man who so liked to call himself prime minister.

Well we won’t let him abdicate responsibility. Someone was to blame for the mess.

And it is not the Parliamentary Registrar.

I put the blame where the blame lay – at the feet of Perry Gladstone Christie.

I charge Perry Christie with reckless disregard for our parliamentary democracy.

I charge him with negligence and incompetence.

It was his duty to coordinate Government business!

A fundamental necessity of that co-ordination is to ensure that The Bahamas is prepared to hold an election:

– To ensure that every resource, human, financial or otherwise, is provided to those charged with the responsibility to oversee the election;
– To ensure that the Parliamentary Commissioner and Returning Officers have a free hand on the selection and deployment of needed personnel.

Elections which must be held every 5 years, are only called by the Prime Minister after he is satisfied that all the prerequisites for the conduct of an election are in place; the Police are ready, the Defence Force are ready and the Parliamentary Register is ready.

Mr. Christie must accept responsibility for what he did, and what he failed to do, while he was prime minister.

I remember and I’m certain that you remember when Mr. Christie, “as your Prime Minister”, dissolved Parliament and called the election in April last year, right in the middle of Holy Week.

It was on April 4th that the FNM issued a public statement saying inter alia:

“It is unfair to the Parliamentary Registration Department and all the faithful civil servants who have to work under great pressure in order to adjust the boundaries, put all the voters affected in the right constituencies, and also prepare and issue one hundred and fifty thousand voters’ cards. But it is especially unfair to Bahamian voters.”

“It was clear to us all along that the Government was running into serious difficulty with the management of the electoral processes. They have been late with everything, either out of incompetence or deliberate malice.

“The Constituencies Commission was not appointed within the time frame mandated by The Bahamas Constitution, and the Government waited until very late to end the old Voters Register and so encourage Bahamians to register.”

We knew that Mr. Christie was creating a mess.

And we knew that the failure of his Government to cause their desired and or needed boundary changes within the time frame mandated by The Bahamas Constitution would also create problems.

So said; so done.

Now Mr. Christie tells us that he believes that the Parliamentary Commissioner’s Office needs reform.

Now he says Pinewood has demonstrated the need for reform in our electoral system.

Now he is outraged that a single individual reportedly corrupted the voter’s registration system by buying a voter’s card.

Now he thinks “the time is appropriate for the Parliamentary Commissioner to comprehensively examine the practices and procedures of the Parliamentary Registration Department…”
Let me remind you again.
In February, 2003 after the election petition in the MICAL case, the judges of the Supreme Court at the end of their judgment said:
“We respectfully urge Parliament to examine the substantive laws related to the Election Court, with a view to effecting economies of time and resources, in the wake of which the Rules Committee could consider the consequential revision of the procedural provisions.”
They were the Government for 5 years.
In those five years they did absolutely nothing in response to this request by the Supreme Court “to examine the substantive law relating to the Election Court”. Absolutely nothing!
Now they pretend to be concerned about reforming the electoral system.
If they were so concerned, why did they do nothing to address the problem which the Judges asked them to address from the first year they were in office?
The truth is that Perry Christie didn’t find it appropriate or convenient to consult and take advice from the Parliamentary Commissioner’s office when he was busy making a mockery of our electoral process.

He says, and I quote:

“Hubert Ingraham is wasting time on political rallies, talking about counting, counting and more counting.”

I think that is a remarkable insight into the mentality of Perry Christie.

Does he expect that we in the FNM will just sit and listen to all their lies, distortions, misrepresentations and abuse — and say nothing?

If he believes that, he ought to think again.

And since when is it a waste of time for political leaders to talk face to face with the people they represent, the people whose mandate they have to govern?

Do you believe for one moment that if the Pinewood case had gone in their favour they would not have a rally?

They would have had rallies all over the place.

Do they think we have forgotten the pictures in the newspapers last Saturday morning with their smiling faces because the court threw out 110 votes?

Do they think we have forgotten the noise and the merriment they had in Pinewood and elsewhere including in Coopers Town, Abaco last Friday night?

At the time, I said in relation to all three contested seats – Pinewood, Blue Hills and Marco City: “We won the seats on the battlefield on May 2. And, we will retain them when all the votes are counted and recounted. They can count as many times as they like; they are all FNM seats. We won them, they belong to us and we will keep them.’

Even after they lost – again – they are trying to claim a great victory and celebrate!

Well, we are entitled to have rallies too. In fact, we take great delight in speaking to our people and telling them the facts.

That is an indispensable ingredient of our democracy – not a PLP entitlement.

They are taking this entitlement thing too far. You remember I talked with you about that before.

They seem to believe that they can do and say what they like, but it is a crime for other people to have their say.

Well, they had better get used to the fact that they have no greater rights than anybody else in The Bahamas. They have no greater entitlement than anybody else.

They are only a political party like any other political party. In fact, today’s PLP is only a grotesque shadow of what used to be a great political organization that does not exist any more.

And about the counting, counting, counting. Incredible!

Perry Christie must be in a deep state of delusion if he believes he can convince the Bahamian people that I am the one who is preoccupied with counting.

You know full well that from the time the results came in after the election, all the PLP has been doing is calling for recounts – count it again!

No, Mr. Christie, it is you and your colleagues — not me, not us — who have been preoccupied with counting, counting, and more counting.

But there is no way you can count yourself into office, Mr. Christie.

The people are the ones who decide who will govern, and the people have decided that for the time being the FNM will govern.

And das dat!

…………………………………………………..

When I spoke with Perry in the Committee Room of the House of Assembly 2 days ago he said: “Boy you does do obeah, eh? People think you working obeah. How could you have seen so right?”

I told him, no I don’t do obeah; I only do my work. And that I was certain, absolutely certain that 40 plus of the persons whose votes the Election Court decided to throw out were their own – they voted PLP.

And how did I know? We checked, rechecked, and confirmed who were the rock solid PLPs.

We knew the constituency; we knew the voters and we knew the PLPs. And, we reconfirmed that they were still PLPs.

Some of them spoke to us saying they had voted PLP but never again will they do so.

Next time we’ll take the entire East and South – Yamacraw, Elizabeth, Fox Hill, Kennedy and Golden Gates.

My Fellow Bahamians:

I suggest that those in Opposition to us wake up and smell the coffee.

The game is over!

The “fat lady has sung”.

Let’s move on.

It’s time to concentrate our whole attention and the whole attention of the Parliament of The Bahamas on the business of the people of The Bahamas.

They have done their best to distract us and to obstruct our progress.

They continue to repeat the lies manufactured while they were in office in attempts to undermine us.

They will not succeed.

They have suggested in the press that increased unemployment figures released for 2007 are a result of FNM policies.

They know that the survey of the unemployed in 2007 was taken in April – before we ever came to office.

They know that the slow-down in construction was the result of the completion of the Phase III development of Kerzner International.

And they know that the much-heralded projects ($20 billion worth) which they talked about were figments of their imagination.

They know that few of these projects, and no major project, was ready to come on stream in May 2007 – that’s why they hid the Heads of Agreements for so many projects from you.

My Fellow Bahamians:

Your FNM Government will never sacrifice your interests for political motive or gain.

Our commitment to create jobs and new business opportunity in our country will not get in the way of our greater commitment to protect the national interests.

It is in your interest that development approved by us result in the creation of a community that we, the Bahamian people, want. The kind of community you voted for; one in which:

? Bahamians are able to afford prime residential and commercial land for development;
? Bahamians are able to access Crown Land at preferential rates for residential, agricultural and commercial development;
? Bahamians will continue to have access to beaches, the shoreline and open green spaces for recreational purposes;
? Bahamians are assured that our environment will be safeguarded;
? Bahamians will know that their history and their heritage is valued and treasured;
? Bahamians will see education and health receive the focussed attention of the government;
? Bahamians will know that their human, civil and social rights are respected and that their protection is guaranteed.

My Fellow Bahamians:

We have been busy over the past eight months cleaning up the mess they left behind in virtually every Ministry and Department of the Government.

We are working steadily and continuously toward setting our country on a path of growth and development for the benefit of all our people.

We are reaching out to those who were excluded and victimized during five years of selfishness and greed.

We have set about to ensure that major development projects will bring real tangible benefits to Bahamians and not just to foreign investors.

We have taken action to strengthen the ability of the Police Force and the Defence Force to fulfill their mandates to protect Bahamian citizens and residents.

We have taken steps to improve our schools and education system.

We are implementing reforms in our public health system to arrest the deterioration in infant mortality rates and to counter the creeping increase in HIV/AIDS.

We are introducing public sector reform initiatives to bring about real improvement in the delivery of public services to the general public.

We have restored dignity to Government.

We have established a Government that can be trusted by the people.

We have begun.

Let us continue together, to make it better in the Bahamas for you and your children.