This is a grave conflict of interest

Dear Editor,
I want to register my opinion in your newspapers concerning the evident conflict of interest situation which Mr. Nigel Hughes has found himself. I refer to the article published in a local newspaper yesterday titled, “You cannot spend taxpayers’ dollars on major projects without a feasibility study’ – AFC Leader Hughes.”
Editor, the statements enounced by Mr. Hughes about the government’s projects shows a clear conflict of interest. Why would Mr. Hughes make such a statement at this point in time? I thought that he delegated the responsibility of speaking about oil and gas and his client to the other minions within the AFC Party. Here he is making a pronouncement about developments within the oil and gas sector, and rightly so taking the side of his client instead of the national interest.
Editor, for those who have been following the oil and gas industry and the project pipeline since the first discovery in 2015, we are quite aware that Exxon does not fancy developing the gas offshore. Exxon has stated at numerous events and to the media, both locally and internationally, that their primary focus is on the oil projects, not gas. The PPP/C Government in 2020, having won the general elections after the whole fiasco of the no-confidence motion which was started by the very Nigel Huges and his special mathematics, decided to bring Exxon and their partners to the table to make the gas to energy project a reality whereby Guyanese will benefit from cheaper, reliable and cleaner energy in 2025.
Undertaking such projects takes visionary leadership and a powerful team for safe execution, and this is very clear as we have seen with our President and Vice President. I am sure there were tough negotiations to get Exxon to commit to the gas to energy project, but a commitment it was, unlike no tangible project to transform our country under the APNU-AFC Government.
The Government of Guyana has stated on multiple occasions that it is focused on developing and monetising its natural gas resources offshore and that it wants to bring more benefits to the people of Guyana through the establishment of associated industries in country. As you may recall, the Government issued a request for proposal for the development of natural gas whereby a new USA company was selected after rigorous evaluation. All of a sudden, Mr. Hughes is against this project and has decided to let his position be known. The question one must ask is whether this is the AFC’s position or is this Exxon’s position to not move forward with this project. Afterall, we cannot repeat this enough, the Leader of the AFC did say that he will take Exxon’s side if he has to choose between his client and national interest.
Adding insult to injury, we have recently seen the Exxon boss stating that there is no conflict of interest, how convenient. I guess conflict of interest is only an issue when it does not suit their interest. Clearly, Mr. Hughes is a mouthpiece of Exxon; his firm is being paid handsomely and he is doing his work both in the legal and political arena now. This must be exciting for Exxon, getting value for their money, I guess the saying is true “the mouth is muzzled by the hand that feeds it”; less than one week in office and Mr. Hughes is already dancing to Exxon’s tunes. I wait to see what other positions Mr. Hughes and his AFC minions will take regarding the development of our important oil and gas sector, or should I say – what instructions they receive from Exxon. From one controversy to another, not this time Mr. Hughes, this is a grave conflict of interest, it is as clear as 33 being the majority of 65.

Sandra Watson