NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday that if the Free National Movement (FNM) is successful in being re-elected to office, he and Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister will do something that has never been done in The Bahamas: “split” the leadership of the government.
The prime minister made the statement while leading the mid-year budget debate in Parliament.
“The deputy prime minister and I have a commitment,” Minnis said.
“I said to him that listen, how government is ran today, we have to look at it differently — never done before — and what I’ve said to him in our next term [is] I want to concentrate on the poor, I want to concentrate on land, giving out to Bahamians to ensure everyone has an opportunity for land and home.
“And, I want to concentrate on Bahamian ownership.”
There was a round of banging on the table from the governing side.
“I want to confine myself as prime minister in the next term just to those components and he (patting Bannister on the shoulder) will run the rest of the government.
“Let me confine myself to that.
“So, we’re going to split. It has never been done before, but it will be more effective…especially when you have a great relationship…”
Bannister has not yet been ratified in the upcoming general election.
The prime minister underscored that East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest was “very good” as the deputy prime minister and “is good”.
“When he speaks, you ga’ see,” Minnis said.
“I think he has something for y’all.
“Mr Speaker, it was just like when I said years ago that as prime minister, I will accept no ministry.
“I was lambasted left, right and center. ‘What dumb idea is that’; this and that. They had never heard it. Now, it is the best thing that happened.
“I am certain every prime minister moving forward will not have a ministry because he or she — because I look forward to seeing a female prime minister; I look forward to seeing a female.”
As he paused to reflect on the women who helped to shape him, Minnis said he believes in equality and his “greatest dream is to one day see a female prime minister in The Bahamas”.
He said his early childhood, career and adult life were successful because of women.
While in opposition, former Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner challenged Minnis twice for the leadership of the FNM without success.
Turner, the only female FNM MP following the party’s defeat in 2012, went on to become the first female leader of the opposition after she and six other FNM MPs wrote to the governor general expressing a lack of confidence in Minnis.
However, neither she nor the six FNM MPs who joined her, were ultimately given the nod from the party to run in their respective constituencies, quelling their chances of re-election and Butler-Turner’s prospects for becoming the first female prime minister.
Butler-Turner ran as an independent and lost to the FNM’s Adrian Gibson.
The only woman in the Minnis administration’s Cabinet, Lanisha Rolle, resigned as minister of youth, sports and culture last week.
Female governing MPs include Shonel Ferguson, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe and Miriam Emmanuel.