Lawmakers, NOCAL in Compromised Deal?
Information filtering to the New Dawn indicates that members of the Liberian Senate are in strong negotiation with officials of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for a compromised deal on contracts review and reformation of the oil sector.
Gbezongar Milton Findley of Grand Bassa
Fifteen Senators expected to go for mid election in 2014 are said to be intensively lobbying with NOCAL for sponsorship of their respective campaigns in order to make a comeback to the upper House, while the remaining 15 are allegedly requesting for US$30,000 each in order to make sure those contracts that were termed as not being in the interest of the country remain as they are.
Senators, who are in the race for the 2014 mid-election include Jewel Howard-Taylor of Bong County; Lahai Lassana of Bomi; Theodore Momo of Gbarpolu; Gbezongar Milton Findley of Grand Bassa; Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh; Cletus Wotorson of Grand Kru, Able Massaley of Grand Cape Mount; Sumo Kupee of Lofa and Claric Jah of Margibi counties, respectively.
Others are John Ballout of Maryland; Joyce Musu Freeman of Montserrado; Prince Johnson of Nimba; Mubutu Nyenpan of Sinoe; Cllr. Fredrick Cheru of River Gee and Jay Jonathan Barney of Rivercess. It can be recalled that the Liberian Legislature, particularly the Senate had been engaged in revision of all oil contracts and the act creating NOCAL.
Due to huge public demand for a reformation of NOCAL, the Legislature separately requested for a review of every oil company operating in Liberia and a revision of all concession agreements relating to drilling of oil here as well as a subsequent revision of the act that established the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
According to reports, some NOCAL officials are seriously complaining that the institution could spend a lot of money meeting the demands of the Senate, taking into consideration that it would also have to contend with members of the House of Representatives, who are over hundred.
However, other NOCAL officials are suggesting that the amount being requested is negotiable provided if the senators will live up to the deal contract. According to inside sources, the term is that all agreements in the oil sector would remain as they are, and that anything to the contrary could be considered breach of contract by the lawmakers.
Of late, members of the House of Representatives seem to have introduced delay tactics in the much publicized reformation of NOCAL’s activities, which clearly points to the ongoing behind the scene negotiations.
When contacted, the Public Affairs Manager of NOCAL, Jonathan Swegbe said he was not clothed with the authority to comment on the issue. But he confirmed that negotiations with respect to review of NOCAL contracts are ongoing with the Liberian Legislature, but stressed that request by the first branch of government to have all previous contracts re-negotiated is totally against international principles.
Swegbe, however, added both the Legislature and NOCAL are on course with the reformation process, without clearly stating those terms that are being reconsidered with a view of ensuring that all Liberians benefit from this major natural resource.
Few of the Senators concerned when interviewed declined to comment on the issue. But the Director of Press at the Liberian Senate, Jarlawa Tonpo dismissed the reports as mere rumors and speculations. Tonpo said the rumors are being spread by people who heat the Senate and are bent on creating damaging image for the upper House.