By BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
FORMER CABINET MINISTER AND MP
The public is well aware of the FNM inspired and self-imposed SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC LIFE published in their election Manifesto. The listed principles are essentially a pledge, a code of conduct and a solemn covenant between them and the Bahamian public.
The public now know that this was all hot air because they have violated all seven of those principles without pretense as if they are above the law. The Prime Minister has misled the Parliament on Oban; the National Security Minister admitted to witnessing tampering; the Tourism Minister misled Parliament on NAD tenants; the Health Minister insists on being both health regulator and health services provider at both public and private health facilities; the Education Minister has misled the public on the status of public school repairs and the Deputy Prime Minister has misled the Parliament and the public on any number of issues.
The principles of public life are listed below for the convenience and ease of reference of the readers:
Holders of public office should make decisions solely on the
basis of public interest. They should not do so in order to gain
financial or material benefits for themselves, members of their
family, or their friends.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to individuals or organizations that might compromise
them in the performance of their official duties.
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding
contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public
office should make choices solely on merit.
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions
and must submit themselves to scrutiny appropriate to their office.
Holders of public office must be open about all the decisions and actions that they take.
They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the
wider public interest clearly so demands.
Holders of public office have an obligation to declare any private interest related to
their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts in a way that protects the
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and
In the unenviable spotlight this week in Public Works and BPL Minister Works Desmond Bannister who publicly declared through the Tribune that he believed the discord between the BPL board members stemmed directly from Mrs. Osborne’s disenchantment over his decision to appoint his close friend Patrick Rollins to the Executive Director post after it was vacated by Deepak Bhatnagar late last year. Further, both Heastie’s and Rollin’s behavior were questionable as board members.
Minister Bannister failed to comply with his party’s seven principles of public life under SELFLESSNES by appointing his close personal friend Patrick Rollins to the executive director post at BPL. Further he also violated principle numbers 2 and 3, INTEGRITY and OBJECTIVITY.
The BPL board and the Chair in particular had good and cogent reasons for not signing off on the Shell North America Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the supply of LNG. Bannister’s admitted political interference in the internal operations of the board compromised its independence and the principles of Corporate Governance that drives its decision-making processes. If the politician can reach into the boardroom, fire board members on a whim, then rehire his personal friends on the board, what is the purpose of the board in the first. Also, hiring multiple board members as executives of BPL is not good corporate governance and does not cultivate a culture of independence.
This comes on the heels of his handling of the more than $3 million contract for the retrofit of the Stephen Dillet Primary School, a no bid contract that ended up over budget by $1.3 million with no explanation.
Reports of his hiring his daughter, nepotism is also a violation of these principles of public life as it creates a fundamental conflict between one’s personal interests and the public’s interests. As a matter of fact, this practice is discouraged widely in the public service for the same reason.
In light of the foregoing, it is patently clear that the problematic constant in the BPL mess is Minister Bannister. He has no respect for process, policies, law or order and is a liability as a Cabinet Minister. He must do the honorable thing and resign to bring a stop to this circus and distraction that will surely impede the government’s ability to govern effectively and in the public’s interest, failing PM Minnis is oblige to enforce his party seven principles of public life.