By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
This week, we watched as our “newish” government continued to duck and dodge questions surrounding their proposed dubious deal with Oban, and learned that the last Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government was exactly who we thought they were.
Fish Stinks from the Head
After initially defending their deal with Oban Energies, it seems that most of the members of the Free National Movement (FNM) wish to now “play crazy” as more questions emerge surrounding the heads of agreement (HOA) that was signed between this government and the “ambassador” to that company, Peter Krieger.
By now, most Bahamians have a pretty good idea who the “front” men are for Oban Energies.
What is shocking is that this FNM government has agreed to move forward without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) because, based on the agreement, it really doesn’t matter.
Our government (in their infinite wisdom) actually allowed into the HOA a clause that reads: “The parties agree that the government shall not have the right to terminate these heads of agreement based upon any EIA report, but instead shall work with the developer to mitigate any concerns.”
So it doesn’t matter how many Bahamians may be affected health wise, or how much our natural resources may be disturbed, damaged or depleted, there is nothing our government can do to stop Oban Energies from “carrying on dumbly”.
And since the HOA caps Oban’s liability to the low millions, a major catastrophe that rises in cost to the tens or hundreds of millions will become the burden of (you guessed it!) Bahamian taxpayers.
Now if that’s not enough to convince you this deal with Oban Energies stinks, keep reading, there’s more.
I’ll be honest, the fact that the Oban deal hasn’t already been declared dead is, to quote Churchill, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
As bad as Bahamians want something - anything- to help boost the economic conditions on the ground in Grand Bahama, are we so desperate that we are willing to sign a proverbial “deal with the devil” to “claim” we are getting something done?
According to this new crew we have in office, yes!
I was amazed to watch a video on the Nassau Guardian’s Facebook page that showed Oban’s “non-executive chairman”, Peter Krieger, sit next to our Prime Minister and sign a so-called ceremonial HOA.
My amazement was centered on the fact that this person, Krieger, didn’t sign his own name to the document but rather that of ‘Satpal Dhunna”, who was listed as the president of Oban before they wiped that information from what looked to be their $2 GoDaddy website.
On February 19, Krieger sat in plain sight of the country, the PM and half the Cabinet, and put pen to paper to scribble another person’s signature without batting an eye.
And he did so with practiced flourish, the kind every teen develops when they’ve perfected forging their parent’s signature on school forms.
Frankly, it’s the kind of thing you would expect to see when someone has the confidence of... well, a confidence man.
Now perhaps Mr Krieger had Dhunna’s permission to “reproduce” his signature, as unusual as that may be for an agreement of this magnitude.
Yet the fact that no one in the room said a word, or asked him what he was doing, for clarification, is both galling and telling.
It galls me that it happened, and tells me our government “een ready”.
Still, the bigger question is why Krieger had to sign for Dhunna in the first place.
According to the tabled HOA, Dhunna also signed that document on February 19. Was it before or after Krieger signed for him at that shambolic “heads” ceremony that was filmed?
And what was so important that Mr Dhunna could not make himself available to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas (and his Cabinet) to sign the HOA at the designated place at the designated time?
Trying to downplay Mr Krieger’s role at Oban Energies (after all the felonies and dirt comes out via the press) is not going to cut it for Bahamians.
Mr. Krieger is just the first person whose history Bahamians have begun to “dig up”. But make no mistake, the full list of persons representing the various entities at that HOA ceremony has been circulating on social media for the past few days.
From where I’m sitting, there’s tons more questions (and shovels)to come.
I think it’s time the government starts providing a few answers before this Oban hole gets any deeper.
I was also surprised to read the “bumptious” full page ad that Oban Energies took out in this daily.
First of all, the tone was all wrong.
In other words, don’t “come on to” Bahamians as if we are know-nothing fools.
We know a lot.
After years of practice and suffering at the hands many, many incompetent politicians, we now know well how to identify fraudsters.
For example, they say things like, “don’t mind the noise in the market”, when you call them out for shady dealings.
So when those words were printed in the Oban advertisement, our eyes and ears really became focused.
According to Oban, “anytime something new and big comes along in The Bahamas, it becomes the subject of great scrutiny in the public domain...”
To which this born Bahamian says, “ya gat dat right!”
Bahamians are no longer content to sit back and watch our country be sold to “investors” coming here with a whistle and a dream.
On the flip side, you will find that this country is most accommodating to legitimate investors who do right by us.
So we will “mind the noise in the market”, because right now no one cares about the price of your fish.
Show us the money.
Show us the beneficial owners of Oban Energies.
Show us how your development will impact our children and grand children and great grandchildren.
Otherwise, to use another “good Bahamian term”, CYC - carry your carcasses. As things stand, your fish seem rotten, and rotten fish stinks.
Water and (Plenty) Sewerage
Speaking of malodorous, the recently tabled report from Earnest and Young regarding the Water and Sewerage Corporation reads like a government crime novel.
There’s all the tropes you would find in that kind of book yet no one has actually been booked yet.
A word to the FNM, get on with it.
Parliamentarians keep standing on their soapboxes in the House of Assembly to tell Bahamians what we already suspected transpired during the last PLP administration.
It all looks bad, and we knew it would.
That’s why we got rid of the PLP and put the FNM in power.
It’s now your job to claw back any ill gotten gains, charge whomever needs to be charged and cancel any shady contracts forthwith.
But please, get on with “The People’s Time”. There’s only so much we an stand listening to you “wax politic” about the PLP without telling us what corrections have been made.
And isn’t it ironic, you can see clear as day what the PLP did wrong but can’t see what this current government is doing wrong right now?
What’s that Biblical expression about beams and motes and eyes again?