The absurd and outrageous nature of the Exxon contract which has been highlighted by a number of persons in the public domain, triggers the impulse to shout ‘incompetence!’ and similar expressions to describe the grossly imbecilic nature of this agreement. But if we consider for just a minute, the people in the Coalition cannot by any remote standard be considered stupid.
The president was a former Brigadier-General schooled in military strategy abroad, and a career historian and lecturer, I was made to understand. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was a former Minister of Finance right here; the Minister of State is a very bright gentleman who was a lawyer by profession; and the Minister of Natural Resources was also a career lawyer who also served as Speaker of our House.
It is virtually impossible for either of these four gentlemen not to have been privy to the agreement before it was signed. With at least two of them being former practicing lawyers, it would have been impossible for them to ignore what I can only refer to as the gross asininity of the Exxon contract.
Here we have four of probably the most senior men in the coalition administration perusing this contract, familiar with its contents, being aware of their own limitations in respect of their capacity to professionally evaluate it, yet still being able to recognize the ridiculous nature of the contract, and still agreeing to give the go-ahead for the Minister of Natural Resources to sign in agreement.
Something is wrong here. No one has yet come up with an acceptable explanation for what we are seeing unfolding with respect with this contract. But I submit that something is definitely wrong. It is very easy to consider corruption in all its modern complexities at work here, which might just be the case. But is it more than this?
What has the Coalition administration agreed to that is not written in the contract? The gross financial imbalance and loss for Guyana as a sovereign state indicates that something more than meets the eye is amiss.
In light of the litany of flaws in the contract, which even includes the Minister of Natural Resources acting on behalf of Exxon in at least one instance, a clear conflict of interest and impossibility in such contracts, it seems very understandable that the Minister of Foreign Affairs owned up (a likely story) to advising the Coalition that the agreement should remain secret.
In respect to the Minister of Natural Resources signing an agreement which clearly puts him in opposition to the interests of Guyana, by what stretch of the imagination and outlandish notion could these four senior men of the Coalition agree to the Exxon contract being signed and enforced?
How could the president himself agree to this? And why is the Coalition insisting that the contract remain in force?
I submit that Guyana is being conned in a very big way, and the Coalition administration, by agreeing to this contract, in addition to its hard-headed stance on VAT and other policies which make it so much harder for Guyanese, including neglecting to address our unemployment and joblessness among our youths in a major way, its violation of the basic human rights of the recently retrenched sugar workers, and its willful breach of our laws in relation to honouring contractual severance arrangements with employees, notably the retrenched sugar workers, has declared itself unfit to govern.
All Guyanese, particularly those owning and controlling resources and in decision-making positions have to seriously take stock of what is unfolding and make preparations, because running a country is a long game which requires a plan. And if anything else, we need to get ourselves organized right now.
With respect to the contract itself being in force, Ramon Gaskin recently pointed out that Exxon discovered oil in its allotted blocks long after its exploratory rights apparently expired. Competent individuals could investigate whether this is not a basis on which to void the entire contract.
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