A Rejoinder, LPRC So-called Oil Deal, “Madam President we beg to differ”

By Sunny G. Nyemah

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 24, 2006


“It is only when the tide goes out that you can see who’s swimming naked” Warren Buffett. Liberians were fool in the past because of limited access to information, and learning opportunities. Now, most Liberians have developed the ability to decipher what is deceitful, from what is truthful. We wrote an article (LPRC So-called Oil Deal, Was it done in compliance with the Public Procurement & Concessions Act) that was published by FrontPage Africa on the afternoon of November 19, 2006, and was archived by November 20, 2006. In that article

(http://www.frontpageafrica.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=2381&z=2) we raised some issues regarding the legality of the “Oil Deal” with respect to the Public Procurement & Concessions Act. Additionally, in an article published by FrontPage Africa on November 20, 2006 (Like Liberia Deal, Addax's Nigeria Deal Smelling Fishy, and Raising Eyebrows) the management of LPRC made some assertions, which need to be address objectively:

? It was asserted that the oil deal was initiated by National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) prior to the inception of the Ellen led government. What is Management insinuating? Is the management insinuating that because the deal was initiated by NTGL, it could not be done in compliance with the Public Procurement & Concession Act? We do not question why or how the bilateral agreement was reached between the two countries (Nigeria & Liberia), and companies (NNPC & LPRC). What is being question is the contracting to Addax of the buying and selling of the oil, which has nothing to do with the bilateral agreement. Therefore, LPRC management should not put a spin on it, by insinuating that the public is questioning the bilateral agreement.

? What it is true that we need to understand the nitty gritty of the deal with respect to whether the deal was negotiated fairly on behalf of Liberia, at this time we should be more concern about the legality of the deal. Then we can began to inquire about how much was needed to have this deal done directly by LPRC, or how much would have been earned if the deal was done by LPRC directly, or whether 14, 20, 50 cents was a fair margin to paid LPRC. We should inquire from LPRC management whether it adhered to the “Sole Source Provision” of the Public Procurement & Concessions Act.

? According to FrontPage Africa, Mr. Greaves indicated that it was not a normal industrial sale practice to bid such a contract. What is this so-called industrial practice? International practices are in most instances benchmarks that are incorporated into a country regulations, acts, or policies to fit its environment. There are no commercial practice that should supersede Liberian laws, and regulations with respect to how contracts, and concessions should be consummated. Furthermore, the Public Procurement & Concessions Act has specific provisions regarding sole source contracts – Contracts that are not bidded. What makes this deal the best deal for LPRC? How do we measure or determine whether it was the best deal? Again, we must first ascertain the legality of the deal, before we can make a determination on whether it was the best deal.

? To ascertain the legality of this deal, we need to find out whether the Board of Directors of LPRC, the Ministry of Finance, and the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission were involved? We should not allow LPRC management, or Mr. Greaves to manipulate the public inquisition by drawing in and complicating this issue with the bilateral agreement between Liberia and Nigeria. Moreover, instead of asking whether the contract was deposited with the President, we need to know whether she is aware of the Addax contract. Understandably, the premise of this contract was initiated based on some bilateral agreement, or treaty with the Federal Government of Nigeria before the Liberian government submitted it to LPRC for execution of the business end. It had to have been rectified by an executive order from the Executive Mansion. From her comments today, we can assume that she is aware. However, she might not be aware of how the contract was awarded to Addax.

During the “Phone in Program”, the President made a statement that was not expected from her. “We have no obligation to demand anybody to take any government contract and put it in the newspaper for public consumption” Madam President we beg to differ with you regarding this statement. Liberia is nobody private business, or farm. It is a country that has a population that owns it. It is the obligation of the steward to provide what is demanded by the owners within the confines of their rights, and the laws of the Republic. What the public has requested has not been made available to the press for the public consumption. What has been made available in the press by LPRC management is what they want the public to believe. The issue at stake is the legality of the deal. The deal has two phases, phase I is the bilateral aspect involving two countries; Nigeria (NNPC), and Liberia (LPRC). Phase-I is not questionable. The second phase is the execution phase which involves purchasing and reselling the oil for some profit to Liberia. That is making the deal beneficial to the Liberian people.

There would have been no question ask if LPRC did not contract the deal, but bought and sold the oil directly. Granted that the justification given by management is genuine regarding its inability, or lack of resources to buy and sell the oil. The normal course to contracting the deal should have been in consonance with the “Public Procurement, and Concessions Act”. This was not done. This is where the issue lies. The circumvention of public regulations means the circumvention of transparency and accountability. The act was enacted to help curb corruption, and re-orientate Liberians towards transparency, and accountability. The issue is not about Liberians distrusting their government, which they have all reason to do; the issue is whether the deal was done in compliance with the act. Madam President this issue should not be dealt with, with emotion, or loyalty. Objectivity and reasoning must prevail. As a staunch supporter, and admirer of most your government policies and programs, I admonish you again to set-up an independent panel to delve into this issue due to the secrecy surrounding its execution.

The Liberian people’s faith can be re-awaken in the government only if the government deals with them fairly, provides full disclosures when needed, respect them, and comply with its own laws, and regulations. They have been taken for free ride for so long, and for them to garner confidence in their government, the government must justify that confidence. “I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things” Benjamin Franklin.

Sunny G. Nyemah, CIA, CISSP, CIPM
Vice President, National Lending Corporation
& Adjunct Professor, Metropolitan State University

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