Former FNM deputy leader says Minnis only has “yes men” in circle
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Opposition Leader Loretta Butler-Turner suggested yesterday that the latest shakeups in the Minnis administration Cabinet have a correlation to the prime minister’s previous leadership opposition.
Her comments come days after former Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest resigned from Cabinet amidst allegations in an untested writ of summons alleging his involvement in a $30 million “bogus loan” scheme.
In a statement, Turnquest said he made the decision to resign to protect his family, and in the best interests of his East Grand Bahama constituency and the Free National Movement (FNM), citing “unfounded and untrue claims” in the mainstream press as well as in social media.
Opining on what she deemed a level of “duplicity” in the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Butler-Turner said she believes the Cabinet of The Bahamas continues to be challenged because of the prime minister’s “dictatorial style of governance”.
Turnquest is the third Cabinet minister to resign from the Minnis administration this term.
Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands resigned in May after accepting responsibility for a breach of protocol amid the country’s border closure and St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette resigned as Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration in June 2019.
Pointing to Sands’ resignation, Butler-Turner noted in an interview with Eyewitness News that it was the “biggest faux pas”, given that there were other ministers who had done other actions that would have warranted resignations, but they were not treated the same.
“You wonder if there is not a hidden agenda or one of a vendetta against some of the individuals, unfortunately,” she said.
“What appears to happen is we the Bahamian people are not better served because of it.”
She said: “It is not unlike the current prime minister to hold vendettas against individuals and at some point, he will get even with that vendetta.
“…I think that anybody who would have supported me in the past against him at the time, they would experience his…vendetta, even to the detriment of the good that they could have brought to the circle of influence around him.
“I believe that anybody who would have supported Loretta Buttler certainly would have a challenge with Dr Minnis.”
Butler-Turner noted that Sands’ resignation saw the loss of a minister of health who was “doing a very good job”, adding now there is no “competent minister of health”.
“Governance is not about having people around you that are just ‘yes’ men,” she continued.
“You have got to have people around you that are going to be able to balance your rational thinking and to help you make proper decisions, and unfortunately, we don’t have that.”
In December 2016, seven members of the FNM’s parliamentary caucus advised the governor general in a letter that they had lost confidence in Minnis as their leader.
The group, dubbed as the “Rebel Seven”, asked that he be replaced by then Long Island MP Butler-Turner.
The letter was signed by Butler-Turner; Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key; Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant; St. Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman; North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly; Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn; and Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins.
Butler-Turner noted that at the time, there were other members of the FNM Parliamentary caucus who were also displeased with Minnis but chose not to sign the letter.
She did not confirm whether Turnquest had backed out of signing the letter; however, she said she believed he was “not impressed” by Minnis’ leadership.
Butler-Turner said the former deputy prime minister likely had his own aspirations of leadership.
“I know that from all accounts, there was great difficulty in the Parliamentary caucus wholeheartedly continuing their confidence with Dr Minnis,” she added.
“…Some of the strongest advocates for Dr Minnis were the ones who helped to spearhead that vote of no confidence because they finally saw the incapacity, or the inability or the incompetence that he displayed and the lack of collegiality.
“He certainly dispensed with any type of collegiality that he would have enjoyed and made a lot of unilateral decisions from back then.”