Opposition leader sets record straight on PLP’s involvement in Oban debacle
Opposition and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Phillip Davis made it clear Wednesday that the Christie administration did not sign an agreement with Oban Energies.
In a public statement, Davis appealed to “right-thinking Bahamians” not to be misled or confused by the “mishmash of words” as well as what he called Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ attempt to rewrite history.
His comments came one day after Dr. Minnis pointed fingers at the opposition for what he called “hypocrisy”.
While closing out the midyear budget debate in the House of Assembly (HOA) on Tuesday, the prime minister released a video to media showing then Minister of Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville, meeting with Oban executives, along with their attorney Obie Pindling.
Dr. Minnis said Dr. Darville visited the site in Grand Bahama, approved the project and was about to sign a heads of agreement.
However, in an earlier interview, Dr. Darville stated that while he did meet with the principals of Oban Energies, nothing of significance ever materialized.
In fact, Davis said the video is proof that the PLP was doing what a responsible government would do.
“Firstly, this is not about the Progressive Liberal Party. The PLP did not sign an agreement with Oban. The record is clear. It is the Free National Movement (FNM) who signed a heads of agreement with Oban. This is particularly important since the FNM has now circulated a video showing former Minister Michael Darville in Grand Bahama touring the proposed project site,” Davis’ statement said.
“The PLP never signed an agreement because the stringent conditions which we applied were not met. For the edification of the FNM on governance, the audio clearly confirms the requisite due diligence of the PLP government. Further, it shows that the agreement was subject to and contingent on the outcome of not a partial, but an entire and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as stated by Dr. Darville. This never happened.
“The PLP government was doing what any responsible government should do in the circumstance and in the public interest. Alas, the FNM government failed in the important area of due diligence and the Prime Minister now shamelessly seeks to distract, divert and obfuscate to cover up his government’s failures.”
According to Davis, it was Dr. Minnis who “sat in a room in his office and watched one man sign another man’s signature on an agreement which he presented to the country as the totality of the agreement between Oban and the Government of The Bahamas.”
It has been nearly a month since it was revealed that Peter Krieger, the non-executive chairman of the $5.5 billion project, did not sign his own name on the heads of agreement, instead signing the name of Satpal Dhunna, the company’s president.
“… the prime minister tells the House that Dhunna was in the country and on arrival the agreement was not ready to be signed. That Dhunna waited around and eventually signed an Agreement on the 10 February. If this is so, then where is this agreement,” Davis asked.
“The Prime Minister now tells the House that he will review the agreement. We are not sure which agreement he will review. He is reviewing it to ensure that the environmental aspects of the agreement are better policed. The problem is the “agreement” which he tabled in the House says that the environmental impact study cannot be a reason for the cancellation of the agreement by the Government.”
Davis said Bahamians should keep an eye on the facts of the deal.
On Tuesday, Dr. Minnis admitted that his government made “missteps” regarding the OBAN deal.