Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday that Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has been unable to inspire some of the party’s traditional financial backers to donate.
Ingraham was responding to a question about the party’s difficulty in funding its convention this week.
The party’s finance committee has asked Minnis and Loretta Butler-Turner, who are running for leader, to each raise $100,000 to help come up with the $350,000 that was needed to pay for the convention.
The finance committee is chipping in $150,000.
“I don’t think that the FNM has difficulty raising $350,000 for a convention,” Ingraham said.
“I think that Dr. Minnis needs to instill in the financial community and FNM backers confidence that he is the person that they want to back.
“I think that there is a reluctance in some of the persons who readily contribute to the party.
“I think that the finance committee decided that listen, we have four very rich persons running for leadership of the FNM. All four are very rich persons — Minnis and Peter Turnquest, Loretta Butler-Turner and Duane Sands.
“They decided, listen, since we have these rich people running, why don’t we make them raise money themselves and so, they’re not paying this money out of their pocket, you know; other people gave them this $100,000.
“If that’s not true they can dispute it… So [nobody is] paying for convention out their pocket. Don’t buy that story. It just so happens that this is the first time that I know of that the party has had difficulty in raising money.
“I never had that difficulty when I was leader of the party in 19 years. That was never a difficulty for me or the party.”
Ingraham was asked whether he thinks the FNM, under Minnis, would have trouble raising money to fund a general election campaign.
“If Dr. Minnis and or Loretta can demonstrate 50 percent of the energy that they are demonstrating in wanting to be leader of the party, in putting the party’s message across, and opposing the PLP and in trying to get people to support the FNM, we would be far, far, far ahead of where we are today,” he said.
“And so, they clearly have the ability to be very active and to do all sorts of things. Well, after the convention is over, let’s see how it works.
“I know most of the party’s financiers. I can certainly speak to them and they sometimes speak to me. And so, they’ve not gone anywhere. They are right here.
“They’re not making as much money as they used to make because of the economy, but I don’t think that would be such a challenge that can’t be overcome.”
Ingraham said it is clear that Minnis and Butler-Turner “have the capacity to be energized”.
Asked whether he intends to play a role in the FNM’s general election campaign, the former prime minister said, “I’ll have to see what happens after the convention, but I will support whoever wins but the level of my support, the level of my enthusiasm, will be determined by the extent to which it is appreciated or accepted.”
Ingraham spoke with journalists individually for much of the day yesterday in rare interviews that came ahead of the start of the FNM’s convention today.
On Monday, the former prime minister killed speculation that he might seek a return to public life. He told FNM Chairman Sidney Collie in a letter that he would not accept any nomination for any position should his name be entered.