Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham advised in a letter to Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Sidney Collie yesterday that he would not accept a nomination for any position in the party if his name is entered, and said he plans to “remain retired”.
Ingraham wrote, “Today, I advise you, as chairman of the Free National Movement, that I will not accept a nomination for any office with the party at the national convention this week. I remain retired.”
The Nassau Guardian understands several prominent FNMs intended to enter Ingraham’s name to run for the leadership position.
His letter is a direct rejection of that notion.
“To be clear, should my name be proposed as a nominee to any position at the convention, you should accept this letter as authority to declare that I have declined the nomination,” Ingraham continued.
“Please, therefore, make this letter available to the convention chairman, the rules committee chairman, the convention session chairman at the time of nominations, and to all and any other persons who would wish a copy of the same.”
As it relates to the convention, which begins on Wednesday, Ingraham said he pledges his full support for the party and for the leadership team that emerges from the three-day event.
“The FNM has been a bastion of democracy in our political landscape,” Ingraham said.
“Various personalities have often clashed during our 45-year history, but when the dust settled we remain the party whose leaders espouse the best vision for a free and democratic Bahamas, committed to the economic and social empowerment of all Bahamians.
“The Free National Movement is a noble organization, a huge tent with many talented and dedicated individuals who are capable, committed and ready to lead the FNM, and once again make us the majority party of The Bahamas.
“I pledge my full support for our party and for the leadership team which will emerge from our convention this week.”
Ingraham authorized the letter to be made available to the public.
It quickly made the rounds on social media, silencing talks of an Ingraham comeback.
It is Ingraham’s second public statement this week.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, he urged FNMs to unite.
The convention will bring to a head months of tensions and acrimony within the FNM with several FNM MPs strongly opposed to current leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Those MPs have accused Minnis of being a divisive force and an incompetent, unprepared leader who has diminished the FNM’s brand.
To date, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner is the only person to challenge Minnis.
Both camps have been watching for signs of an Ingraham return.
On Sunday night, Ingraham wrote, “Following the outcome of the leadership election in the Free National Movement this week, it is essential that the leader and the party quickly move toward unity and stability.
“This is especially necessary with a general election due within a year. The best way to ensure stability and unity is through a spirit of collegiality and cooperation, which must be fostered and exemplified by the leader of the party.
“This spirit of collegiality is the cornerstone upon which the FNM was founded. It is a foundational value of the party and of a parliamentary democracy with its system of Cabinet government and collective responsibility.”
It was the first substantive public statement the former prime minister made since he told The Guardian earlier this year he does not plan to return to public life.
At the time, he also hinted at disappointment over certain goings-on in the party.
In the months since that statement, the infighting has continued, fueling more speculation that Ingraham would return.
In the lead-up to the party’s 2005 convention, there was similar speculation that Ingraham would be nominated and come back.
He did return at convention and took the party on to win the 2007 general election.
Unlike 2005, Ingraham has retired from frontline politics and now, formally announced his intention to stay retired.
When Butler-Turner formally announced her bid for leader in June, she said she and Senator Dr. Duane Sands, her running mate who is vying for deputy leader, were working to get the endorsement of every right-thinking Bahamian, including Ingraham “whom we consider the greatest prime minister this Bahamas has ever seen”.
“We are working to get every endorsement of every right-thinking FNM there is,” she said.
“Just like we are reaching out to you today, we are reaching out to other FNMs.
“Mr. Ingraham will be no less of a person that we will be reaching out to.”
The week before, Sands expressed confidence that Ingraham supports his bid for deputy leader of the FNM.
The expression of confidence followed his and attorney Monique Gomez’s swearing in as senators.
Ingraham attended the ceremony and expressed his support for the pair as senators.
But he was reticent about Sands’ bid for deputy leader.