Commentary By FRED STURRUP
FN General Manager/Managing Editor
“It ain’t long now.’
That's the phrase coined during the days when Hubert A. Ingraham was the point person within the leadership of the Free National Movement (FNM). Ingraham, the former three-time prime minister, who is considered the father of the pinnacle of success attained by the FNM, was followed in leadership by another Hubert Alexander, this one with the last name of Minnis.
Dr. Hubert A. Minnis has been so significantly the face of the FNM, since Ingraham, it is clear that the fate of the party rests in his hands. Indeed, whether the FNM ship floats or sinks, will depend on just how many voters think the country should continue to follow his lead or, whether it will be better off without him calling the administrative shots. As it stands, with the many negative sentiments being expressed against Dr. Minnis, it seems that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is leading the way on the campaign trail. The advance voting is at hand, Thursday, September 9, and the larger general election date is Thursday, September 16.
The strong view held here is that for the voters, it will definitely be a choice of giving Dr. Minnis the mandate for the next five years, or not doing so, and not so much about the capacity of the candidates in the various constituencies, throughout the country ... with few exceptions.
One such exceptional situation is the West Grand Bahama/Bimini Constituency. Generally, the residents of that constituency have always held the sitting member directly responsible for their progress/upliftment. There are nine candidates seeking to get the support of the
West Grand Bahama/Bimini voters, but it is highly unlikely that the winner will NOT be either the former two-time representative Obie Wilchcombe of the Progressive Liberal Party, or incumbent MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe of the FNM.
So, in this the final of the Grand Bahama Political Outlook series, the focus is on West Grand Bahama/Bimini.
Unfortunately for Parker-Edgecombe, the constituents have looked to her to improve their lot. Their lives have not been changed for the better, and even though Parker-Edgecombe, on one occasion was bold enough to risk drawing the ire of her leader Dr. Minnis by expressing in the House of Assembly, disappointment that her government had not done more for the residents of the area, they are still blaming her. She might not have been able to persuade the finance minister to make decisions to ensure necessary infrastructural changes in West Grand Bahama/Bimini, but what about the $100,000.00 per year it is understood MPs get for their constituencies each year? That amounts to half a million dollars (or perhaps just a bit less, given the snap election call).
What has she done as an indication that the constituency-earmarked funding, which it is understood goes to the accounts of MPs in installments, every three months, benefited their area communities?
What can she show?
Did she receive her constituency funding, and if so, what happened with it?
These are the questions being asked.
Parker-Edgecombe happens to be up against a veteran politician who is quite eloquent. Based on the suffering and unhappiness in the constituency, it is likely that to most of the residents, encouraging words coming from Wilchcombe sound like music to their ears. Therefore, it is probable that Wilchcombe will overcome Parker-Edgecombe this time around. On nomination day, his group of supporters greatly outnumbered those who accompanied Parker-Edgecombe. The scene was reminiscent of 2012 when Wilchcombe's army of supporters dwarfed those of Parker-Edgecombe.
Yes, this one looks like it is going to Wilchcombe. The other candidates for the constituency, Randall Cooper (KGM); Stefan Hall (COI); Mario Mott (DNA); Wesley Peet (BWFM); Hyram Rolle (UCM); O'Brien Rolle (RGM); and DaQuan Swain (IND) should be placed in the category of the also-ran.
Wilchcombe is the favorite for sure.
Following is a synopsis outlook of the other constituencies:
CENTRAL GRAND BAHAMA – PLP Kirk Russell has, in the last few weeks, been making great strides on the ground. He has elevated his standing in the area, much more so than was indicated earlier. As a result, it will no longer be surprising if he pulls this one out for the PLP.
PINERIDGE – Rev. Frederick McAlpine has been vibrant throughout the campaign and he poses a big threat to Ginger Moxey of the PLP and the FNM's Welbourne Bootle. The likelihood is that the winner will be either the independent McAlpine or Moxey. This one is too tough to call. I see it as a toss-up.
MARCO CITY – Incumbent FNM Michael Pintard has done so much for all and sundry, the supporters of the PLP, the FNMs, and others. He, unless there is some gigantic wave of support for the PLP, will win. He will beat the PLP's Curt Hollingworth and all other candidates.
EAST GRAND BAHAMA – There is the great possibility that this constituency could go to the PLP for the first time in 50 years. James Turner of the PLP has been easily outworking the FNM's Kwasi Thompson and could very well win.
MY VERDICT – The PLP 3-2 or perhaps 4-1.
• End of Series