Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham on the firing of the Minister of Housing, Kenneth Russell from his Cabinet

PM: Why I fired minister

Tribune Freeport Reporter

BEFORE a packed room of FNM supporters, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday explained in detail why he fired Minister of Housing Kenneth Russell from his Cabinet.

He met with the FNM's High Rock Council and has invited members to put forth at least two names as candidates that the party could consider for the new East Grand Bahama seat in the next general.

Supporters turned out at the Foster Pestaina Hall at Christ the King Church at 4pm to hear from Mr Ingraham.

He was greeted with cheers and applause as he made his way into the auditorium. Also present were Brent Symonette, deputy leader, MP Zhivargo Laing, Senator David Thompson, and former Cabinet Ministers and MPs Maurice Moore, and C A Smith.

Prime Minister Ingraham said he did what any Prime Minister would do to a minister who acted in a manner inconsistent with the Cabinet of the Bahamas.

Mr Ingraham stated that sometime ago, he had sent Brent Symonette, the deputy leader of the FNM, to speak with Ken Russell about stepping aside.

Mr Russell, he said, had sent a message with profanity back with Mr Symonette.

Mr Ingraham said he had chosen Russell to replace Maurice Moore in High Rock, and had appointed him to his Cabinet.

He stated that the party is always in search of new and additional talent and that was the purpose of asking Mr Russell to step aside.

The Prime Minister said he spoke with Mr Russell himself and informed him that after the next election, if the FNM was successful, he did not intend to put him back in Cabinet, and suggested that he step aside so the party can nominate someone else.

"I made him an offer of what will happen for him if he did that. He told me he would get back to me next week," Mr Ingraham said.

The Prime Minister said at a meeting in Grand Bahama, Elkenny Pinder and Mr Russell had questioned him about a proposed project for East Grand Bahama.

Mr Ingraham said the matter was considered by the Government of the Bahamas on four separate occasions, and on each occasion they could not and would not support the project.

"In fact, we would love to have a project like that in Grand Bahama and in the Bahamas, but ... not everybody who comes to the Bahamas and says we got something is somebody who you could trust," he said.

After returning to New Providence, Mr Ingraham withdrew the offer he made to Mr Russell.

"I told him the offer I made last week is hereby withdrawn, because if it wasn't so near to the election, 'I would fire you for what you did,' " he said.

"He (Mr Russell) explained himself but that did not change my view. I told him I decided that he had to tender his resignation."

"He did not tender his resignation and so I dismissed him. Although I dismissed him, he is still my friend," Mr Ingraham said.

Mr Ingraham also said that Mr Russell had made a remark, "Who does Hubert Ingraham think he is?"

"I am the leader of the FNM. You elected me as your leader. I assure you I did what any Prime Minister would do to a minister who acted in a manner inconsistent with Cabinet of the government of the Bahamas.

"There is nothing personal, I did what had to be done," he said.

While in Grand Bahama, Mr Ingraham met with the High Rock, now East Grand Bahama Constituency Council, and invited members to put forward to the party at least two candidates that the party could consider to carry the party's banner in East Grand Bahama in the next general.

"As you know Grand Bahama is important to the FNM. It is important for the FNM to renew itself by bringing in new additional talent.

"Maurice Moore made it possible for Ken Russell; David made it possible for Zhivargo Laing, and I got in Abaco because Charles Bootle made room for me," he explained.

"We want for this election to put forward the best team that we can. In order to do that, some of our members who are now in the House are going to retire.

"Some have asked to go on their own volition, and some are going to be asked not to go again," Ingraham said.

The leader of the FNM said he will unveil to the Bahamas in the coming weeks, the FNM's line up for the next general election.

"I am asking Grand Bahama to continue to support us. We are the best party for Grand Bahama and the best for the Bahamas.

"The evidence of our goodness in Grand Bahama can be seen, heard and touched. Your choice in the general election is going to be very simple, PLP or FNM; Hubert Ingraham or Perry Christie would be Prime Minister of the Bahamas.

"Never mind the noise in market. It is, will be, PLP or FNM. You are in safe hands with the FNM.

"Grand Bahama, we want to inject in our parliament some new blood.

"We ask Grand Bahama to accept the new blood. We want you in GB to select at least two names for the seats in Grand Bahama," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Ingraham said the seats that were reconfigured in Grand Bahama were done in response to the feedback from the people

"We have not reconfigured Marco City and Pine Ridge, we reconfigured those seats for a reason. We listened to your cry in Grand Bahama and much of what we do is in response to what you say," he said.

"There is nothing sinister about what we are doing. We do have your best interest at heart," he told residents of Grand Bahama.

Mr Ingraham then asked supporters to stand in recognition of the late FNM stalwant Ron Darville who died yesterday.

December 12, 2011