8 November 2012

Liberia: Audit NOCAL

Photo: James M. Garresen, II/Executive Mansion
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on an oil rig.

Amidst controversies surrounding the management of Liberia's oil sector, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf has called for an independent audit of NOCAL.

Mr. Sirleaf comment comes in the wake of recent allegations made by Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe that he (Mr. Sirleaf) was involved in financial Mal-practices in the management of the country's oil sector.

However, addressing a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Sirleaf said he has nothing to hide at NOCAL relative to its day to day management and operation.

"In the spirit of my commitment to transparency, I welcome the National Oil Company's commission of an independent audit of all expenditures related to my activities in my official capacity as Chairman," the NOCAL Boss said.

Mr. Sirleaf also insists that the report of the audit be published in keeping with the Freedom of Information Law of Liberia, implying that he has nothing to hide.

He said his preference at NOCAL was necessitated by the growing demand on the public entity for increased transparency, reform and accountability.

Mr. Sirleaf indicated that "NOCAL could no longer continue to operate in secrecy, conduct its activities imprudently, negotiate feebly, and conflictingly present itself as a shareholder and a regulator."

He said the time has come for NOCAL to operate in openness and reforms.

"This, also, is why I accepted the challenge, knowing that every detail of my contribution would be scrutinized not only by the Liberian people, but by a larger international community.

According to him, he did not only welcome the scrutiny of NOCAL but that he was the one who invited the audit, adding "this would allow all to evaluate me, and my competency as Chairman of the national oil company for them."

"I ask you today to judge me based on what we have been able to accomplish at NOCAL and not based on what they say," Mr. Sirleaf said in his press statement.

The NOCAL Chairman encouraged all Liberians to participate in the debate surrounding the oil sector stressing that "Because it benefits our people and is good for our country; the simple truth is that what is owned together ought to benefit all and not a selected few."

Commenting on the outcry surrounding his Chairmanship at NOCAL, Mr. Sirleaf said "I know that I could have settled for lesser public exposure and mis-characterizations, and even lesser political attacks on the President, who happens to be my mother."

He continued, "If I can do something to help our country - if I can use my talent, my experience and competence to help my country; and if by the privilege and responsibility of being the son of the President and the trust that it brings, I can help our President succeed in her ambitious agenda of transformation; If I can help her build the durable and sustainable institutional frameworks to guarantee that revenues from the exploitation of our natural resources are used to benefit all Liberians- and if I turn away because it will cause me personal pain or draws political criticism, what would be the value of my birth right? And more importantly, what would be the value of my relationship with our people? I made the right choice in remaining steadfast; I owe Liberia me!"

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