The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has been described as "can of worms" which must be opened up and thoroughly audited to appreciate the extent of the rot happening in the state institution under the management of Dr. Kofi Kodua Sarpong, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
They mentioned procurement issues, property rentals, renovation works among others, as issues of concern, which are ongoing at the Corporation and need the urgent attention of the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, because they don't see the Energy Minister, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, as leading a crackdown exercise at GNPC to stop the financial hemorrhage.
The demands are coming on the heels of revelation by the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) Ben Boakye that Dr Sarpong, while leaving the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) as Managing Director, left behind a debt of US$1.4 billion from a debt of about US$400 million.
The ACEP boss said, "In 2015, a government committee, with the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and KPMG, recommended further investigation into the debt and use of funds at TOR. However, as vulnerable as the Ghanaian public is, he gets rewarded with a more significant portfolio in GNPC".
Insiders, have painted a picture of an institution that is decaying, tardy and unproductive, which must be salvaged from the current management of Dr. Sarpong, and board of directors led by the National Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Worsemawu Blay, who has just been retained.
Also of particular interest to the GNPC insiders, are the reckless use of funds in the name of the GNPC Foundation headed by Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II, the Paramount Chief of Sefwi Anhwiaso traditional area, who doubles as the President of the National House of Chiefs and the granting of scholarship packages.
Interestingly, Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II, who is on the GNPC board, is also a member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC); an independent statutory body mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana, but many insiders, say his management of the GNPC Foundation, must be probed.
PIAC, until recently was chaired by Dr. Steve Manteaw, but it doesn't appear to have looked into the operations of GNPC.
Also cited to The Herald, was the employment of cronies, which has bloated the workforce of GNPC.
Both the current board and management, have been in charge of the Corporation in the last four years, but many of the workers; both retired and serving, insist there is no clear direction for the strategic state institution.
For instance, the workers alleged that the GNPC Foundation, has recorded lots of mismanagement of funds in the award of scholarships.
There are claims of politicians eating from funds allotted from the foundation, while the children of cronies of various managers, are on one scholarship or the other.
This paper learnt that, the Corporation has recorded some procurement issues in recent times.
Mention was made of a building at a suburb of Takoradi in the Western Region bought from the owners of Global Haulage, whose financial institution; Royal Bank, the GNPC Chief Executive had worked with before its collapse, following the clean-up of the banking sector.
The Global Haulage building, this paper learnt, was bought for nearly US$8 million.
What is interesting is that at the time of purchasing the Global Haulage building, GNPC, had almost completed a building project which started under the management of Alex Mould during the John Mahama administration.
The uncompleted building, The Herald, learnt has been left to the vagaries of the weather.
Furthermore, mention has also been made of the renting of a building facility from one John Taylor at Tema, near the Petroleum House, which has been under renovation for years now without any end in sight.
Indeed, many say the renovation work, had been abandoned, while GNPC continuous to cough up outrageous amounts in United States Dollars to settle the said Mr Taylor for the use of his building to house officials of the corporation.
The cost of the rent, according to insiders, is running into millions of dollars, since GNPC occupied it some years ago, and there is no effort to stop the financial hemorrhage by completing the Petroleum House renovation works for the workers to return.
The last four years, has seen lots of staff recruitments into the Corporation, but The Herald was told, most of these staff, are not technically inclined to assist in the core mandate of GNPC. They are said to be largely administrative staff.
The Freddie Blay board, is also mentioned as lacking technical expertise, hence difficult to monitor and evaluate the work of the management led by Dr. KK Sarpong, and to the insiders the return of the board will not bring anything of value to the country.
Freddie Blay, is cited as sleeping on the job and signing many documents without reading them.
Also mentioned is the construction of numerous facilities at educational institutions in the country, including the GHS12 million University of Mines and Energy (UMaT) and the US$5 million GNPC School of Governance and Law at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the name of getting GNPC Professorial Chairs in four public universities as some of the procurements which must be probed.
About two weeks ago, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) hit hard at the GNPC boss, Dr. Sarpong, for insulting Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) over the US$1.65 billion controversial GNPC- AGM Petroleum and Aker Energy oil deal.
Benjamin Boakye in an open letter, suggested that Dr. Sarpong's escapades and incompetence at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) were such that he should not have gotten any other public appointment, but he was rather given another job at GNPC.
"TOR was handed to Dr Sarpong with a total debt of about $400 million. At the time, the State needed the genius to save the company. Not only that, the public was billed, through the TOR Debt Recovery Levy, to support Dr. Sarpong to turn the company's fortunes around. Instead, he left the company with debt of over $1.4 billion, having received about $580m from the levy".
The ACEP boss, "in 2015, a government committee, with the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and KPMG, recommended further investigation into the debt and use of funds at TOR. However, as vulnerable as the Ghanaian public is, he gets rewarded with a more significant portfolio in GNPC".
According to him, the GNPC boss' justification of the much-criticized agreement by attacking civil groups during his media engagements is not only proof that the deal is indeed shady, but also a means to divert attention on how bad the proposed plan is.
"It is even shocking that the GNPC Kahuna goes way back into time to account for his public life with such surgical precision on what he thinks is public-worthy. I would have thought that the most relevant and recent context of his public life to the ongoing Aker transaction is his stewardship of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR)".
"I have followed a series of interviews granted by Dr. KK Sarpong and sometimes froze, literally, in complete disbelief of what damage he is doing to the country in an attempt to litter the media space with hate for CSOs. By design or not, he injects extreme nervousness than I have seen. The strategy was evident; he pontificates his achievements in public life to sedate the minds of Ghanaians to think that he is doing the right thing with the Aker transaction."
"He tries hard to discredit CSOs in the crudest way possible, so the public will listen to him, not the CSOs. Additionally, he displays an unpardonable lack of control over the Aker transaction, which makes his amnesia of the history of Aker/AGM in Ghana almost forgivable", Ben Boakye wrote.
Dr. KK Sarpong in a recent interview on Citi TV's current affairs show The Point of View, took strong exception to criticisms by civil society groups, saying the CSOs are badmouthing the oil deal.
He was particularly not happy about the approach of the CSOs, because he felt they have resorted to making wild comments other than seeking relevant information on the planned agreement between GNPC and the other partners.
But, the ACEP Executive Director, believes Dr. KK Sarpong, has rather misconstrued the concerns of the CSOs just to be evasive of the core questions raised against the deal.
"To avoid public scrutiny of the Aker transaction, the Kahuna of GNPC spends time bastardising CSOs and craftily portraying that we lack knowledge of the entire transaction. However, it gets too apparent that if he paid little attention to CSOs, some nervy moments in his interviews, which I will return to shortly, would have been avoided. On the point of lack of knowledge, he got worryingly deflated by Bernard Avle on some specific questions CSOs have raised. His last bullet, though, appears a push for an unfounded twist of imperialist agenda, operated through CSOs, to disrupt what he wants to do with the transaction."
In the meantime, Ben Boakye, has thrown a challenge to the GNPC to shun going around the bush and justify the move beyond reasonable doubts.
"As a civil society, we are happy to remain civil if Dr. Sarpong will choose that route. However, the fundamental questions we have asked remain unanswered. Rather than shadow-boxing, GNPC should come to the public arena to debate the issues. It is time for the section of the Corporation pushing this transaction to realise that the diversionary tactics are crumbling, and the truth is triumphing", Ben Boakye's post read in parts.
More to come!