NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Centreville MP Reece Chipman yesterday suggested Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis would need “a lot more stamina” if he planned to step into the “2022 arena”.
Chipman unleashed a firestorm of criticism against the Minnisadministration, fellow parliamentarians and partisan politics during a press conference on his resignation from the Free National Movement. He urged people to pay attention to Parliament because their representatives were not reading the laws, and further claimed the FNM’sdirection was not in the best interest of the people.
In Parliament on Wednesday, Minnis said he had “seven and a half more years,” as the nation’s leader during his contribution to debate on amendments to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act.
“I was surprise with his comments about the seven years, because I lookin the face of some educated young people,” Chipman said.“The faces of people bursting with pride opportunity and ready to take a country forward and I’m not here to make predictions but our young people will not stand and let us prevent us from moving forward.”
He added: “So I was a little surprised he would have stepped into that arena because that arena from 2022 going forward, you’re going to need alot of stamina for that.”
It was not the first time the prime minister has suggested he will be elected for a second term, and he made the comments on Wednesday following a heated row with Opposition Leader Philip Davis over which side politicized deadly Hurricane Dorian.
Chipman did not reference the row at yesterday’s press conference, but disputed the usefulness of the amendment bills.
“People are out there hurting, professionals are out there needing assistance,” Chipman said. “Families traveling from Grand Bahama and Abaco are now in homes. There is more to this than a show in the house of Parliament, and as an independent candidate you will hear my voice because the voice of thepeople needs to be heard.
“In order for you young people to move forward,” he said.
Chipman entered frontline politics on the FNM ticket during the 2017 general elections, unseating former Prime Minister Perry Christie, who held the seat for four decades. The MP and businessman said he believed he held the support of hisconstituency as an independent candidate, and pledged his voice would now be louder on behalf of the people.
He said the current party did not reflect the ideals and promises he campaigned heavily to support, underscoring a disconnect between Parliament and Bahamian reality.
“I’m on the ground…just to get people to vote for persons who are going to go to the House of Assembly and not represent them, and I didn’t understand that at that time because I was only on the ground,” Chipman said. “Having been in parliament and seeing impact of partisan politics on the people. You’re passing laws that are hurting your brothers and sisters and for what? A couple of dollars? Well Centreville will show that we don’t need your money.”
Chipman urged Bahamians not to wait to cast their ballots in 2022 to hold the government accountable.
“You must hold that parliament accountable, we are letting laws pass, weare not seeing the benefit of it for the Bahamian people, and we’re not saying anything,” Chipman said.
“That is not going to work. I understand what you’re doing, You’resilently going to vote what you want to vote in 2022, but your silence now has an impact on your children and your children’s children.
He added: “So now just happens to be the time.”
In a statement yesterday, Davis said his party was not surprised by theresignation, and claimed Chipman was “deliberately misled, abused, andfrustrated by a leadership that disrespected him.Underscoring Chipman’s “genuine contributions”, Davis said he hoped toconsult the Centreville MP on future “party works for development, peaceand good order” of the country.
At his press conference, Chipman maintained his position against partisan politics.
The Centerville MP said he would not consider a political party unlessthe organization committed to changing its constitution to make Bahamian people the beneficiaries.