Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Haunted for more than two years by the spectre of corruption over the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) that he managed as transport and works minister, Mike Henry got something for which he has clamoured for over a year.
It took an impending leadership challenge for Henry, the outspoken politician, to get some reprieve of sorts, after being banished to the fringes of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
In what appeared to be a strategic move Sunday, the JLP leadership hopeful Audley Shaw extended apologies "for the hurt" inflicted on the estranged veteran member, Henry.
"Fair is fair. I invited Mike Henry to be here because I wanted him to be seated at platform to hear what I had to say, and we must be just and we must be concerned about good and evil … . Mike Henry conceptualised the JDIP."
Shaw contended that neither he nor any other member of the JLP should be credited with the initial agreement between China and Jamaica.
"I am not taking credit for the initial work on China. The credit must be given to the member of parliament for Central Clarendon, Mike Henry."
Shaw said it was Henry who negotiated the initial loan of US$350 million to be matched by Jamaica's injection of US$50 million for a total of US$400 million for the implementation of that programme.
"The PNP (People's National Party), because they saw the importance of the programme, decided to turn it into political football," said Shaw. "So Omar Davies accused the man (Henry) and the Government of the JLP of mismanagement and corruption on the JDIP," Shaw added.
He said a report commissioned by Henry's successor, Dr Omar Davies, when the Government changed, found that Henry had done no wrong. But while it was Davies who commissioned the audit, it was former Prime Minister Bruce Golding and then his successor, Andrew Holness, who sidelined the protesting Henry.
"They (the PNP Government) got the audit done and the audit report was tabled in Parliament. It did not find any corruption in the programme," said Shaw. "There might have been some administrative weaknesses, [but] you don't blame a minister and call him corrupt due to administrative issues," he argued.
Added Shaw: "I am telling you that we must lift this cloud from the head of our brother, Mike Henry, and today, as a deputy leader of the JLP, I want to say to Mike Henry, behind his back, on behalf of the JLP, I want to apologise for any hurt; the JDIP audit has exonerated him."