It is a privilege to be here today as we rename this administrative complex in honour of a truly great Bahamian.
Obadiah Wilchcombe was a true statesman with a heart for the people. He gave his all to the cause of making his nation and his community a better place.
He was a great journalist and champion for a free and empowered press.
He was among the best Ministers of Tourism this nation has ever seen.
And in his most recent role as Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, he oversaw tremendous progress in the expansion of support for those who rely on the government for help, and he advanced laws to protect women and children from violence.
His life’s work will leave a lasting, positive impact on our nation.
Just as his legacy will live on through his work, his name will be adorned on this complex, so that all who walk through the doors are reminded each day of his contributions.
Ground was first broken on this administrative complex in December 2016.
Then Prime Minister Christie was instrumental in seeing this vision through – a vision which sought to do better by Grand Bahamians.
By signing a contract with Top Notch Builders, the PLP administration of the day embarked on a pioneering and fiscally prudent public-private partnership.
This was ideal because such partnerships free the government from the burden of borrowing while still allowing us to deliver important change.
Partnerships have been central to infrastructural development across our archipelago. Just last week, my administration signed off on a public-private partnership which encompassed a capital investment of $80 million into a new international airport for South Bimini!
Seven years ago, it was a public-private partnership that set this very same complex in motion. I was present at the initial ground-breaking, and so was then Minister of Tourism, Obadiah Wilchcombe. In his remarks, Obie recalled the frustrating but ultimately fruitful fight for the inclusion of all Bahamians in the economy of Freeport, regardless of class or colour.
He spoke of Preacher Hall, a man who stood up in defence of his rights, and inspired others to do the same.
Obie didn’t mention this trailblazer just because he lived on the opposite side of the street here in Eight Mile Rock, he highlighted Preacher Hall as an example of what courage, character, and commitment can accomplish.
Obie was always the type, perhaps from his background as a journalist, to highlight the achievements of others and tell their stories, without ever seeking recognition or accolades for his own accomplishments.
Today, we commemorate his contributions as a national builder, as we name this administrative complex in honour of our good friend and beloved statesman.
We also make a pledge, a lasting promise, to carry on his legacy of goodwill.
For all his accomplishments as a journalist, senator, and repeat Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, Obie’s most significant gift to this nation and to his community was his spirit of love and compassion for his fellow Bahamians.
We saw that in his campaign slogan, “One Love.” And we saw that in the way he would passionately advocate for progress in West Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Obie was not only pivotal in ensuring that this administrative complex was built, he also worked hand-in-hand with his fellow MPs and Cabinet Ministers to secure developments like the Eden Resort, EMR sea wall, the upcoming completion of Holmes Rock Junior High School and the West End Police Station and many other projects that were driven through the pipeline by Obie’s persistence.
In total, we are delivering over $1.5 billion in new projects for the Grand Bahamian people.
This is an important step in the right direction. But we know that we must continue to do even more if we wish to recapture the magic of Grand Bahama in the ways that Obie spoke of when he envisioned a brighter future for the people of this island.
Our intent is to follow in the footsteps of our dear friend Obie: to see the full potential of Grand Bahama restored.
Thank you and God bless you.