Pledging to redouble his efforts to earn the trust, respect and confidence of those who do not support him, Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis last night extended an olive branch to Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and Senator Dr. Duane Sands.
Butler-Turner very dramatically withdrew from the leadership race early yesterday and Sands, her running mate, withdrew from the deputy leadership race. They said the process was corrupted and they did not want to validate it.
On the final night of the party’s convention — a convention that was called to deal with the leadership issue — Minnis said, “FNMs, we have undergone a lot over the last few years.
“Our internal politics have been laid bare for all the world to see, and it’s not been pretty but through it all we have maintained our integrity and focused on the points that unite us.
“In this spirit, tonight we offer the olive branch once again to our sister and brother Loretta Butler-Turner and Dr. Duane Sands.”
Minnis’ address came hours after Butler-Turner told reporters at the Melia resort that she will stay with the FNM and try to work things out with Minnis.
Butler-Turner’s and Sands’ decision to pull out of the races followed a night of high drama on Thursday during which time she was disrespected by “screaming goons”.
It was a reference to Minnis’ supporters who chanted “Roc Wit Doc” as her speech extended near the hour mark.
Minnis’ speech last night was highly anticipated because it set the tone for the direction the FNM expects to take post-convention.
Referring to Butler-Turner and Sands, he said, “Each of these worthy leaders are qualified and possess the experience to help us rescue this nation and to contribute mightily to its future success.
“It is our hope that they will accept our offer to continue to be a valuable part of this leadership team.
“We have made significant offers to both demonstrate our commitment to them and we earnestly hope they will accept.
“I’m proud of our extraordinary members of our party who in this convention offered as nominees for national party officers.
“Everyone could not win but everyone can serve. You will play a pivotal role in our party’s growth. “
Despite the high drama that played out at the convention this week, Minnis insisted the FNM is united, battle-ready and unstoppable.
Minnis, whose declaration in 2012 that the Ingraham era is over, has often faced criticisms for that statement he made after the North Abaco by-election, which the FNM lost.
Last night, the FNM leader paid homage to former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
“Now, let us not forget one of the most outstanding leaders this region has ever produced,” he said.
“I refer to the Rt. Honourable Hubert Alexander Ingraham. Thank you Prime Minister Ingraham and yes, we will give our utmost energy to honoring your call for unity.”
That call by Ingraham was made in a rare press statement on Sunday night, and repeated in an interview on Tuesday.
Minnis asked FNMs to launch “a renewed Free National Movement” by standing and giving each other the sign of peace.
“When you do this, when you commit to each other and send a signal of your love of country, we can and will win the next election.
“And we will use that victory as a springboard for bringing, urgently, desperately-needed change to our Bahamas.”
Sticking to familiar themes, Minnis promised a safer Bahamas, a new government and a better Bahamas.
“We will build a more progressive and expansive Bahamas with a growing, thriving, vibrant and robust economy,” the FNM leader pledged.