The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) has for the first time responded to its former boss Christopher Neyor's assertion that the sector was being mismanaged under the current leadership.
Neyor had claimed that several initiatives instituted under his administration as NOCAL CEO/president, including foreign scholarships for Liberian students, particularly in the energy sector, were being used by the current leadership to exploit the huge crowd that always floods in to have a share of the program.
In an apparent response yesterday in Monrovia, NOCAL dismissed assertions of Mr. Neyor, stressing that there has been "impressive improvement" in every department of the company.
Addressing a news conference, NOCAL president Dr. Randolph A. W. K. McClain noted that the present NOCAL management has achieved more in terms of accomplishments in the sector than at any other time in the recent past.
Relative to transparency and accountability in the sector, NOCAL believes that despite its imperfection, the board and management have continued to be as transparent as possible in their financial and other dealings.
Dr. McClain: “In this regard, NOCAL has for the past two consecutive years published its budget on its website (www.nocal.com.lr), and in the local media. And like all other government institutions, NOCAL is subject to audit by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
NOCAL’s Scholarship program is certainly one of the entity’s flagship projects. In the past, only modest attempts were made in this direction. Since then, especially under the current NOCAL leadership, the scholarship program has been expanded exponentially, and has become much better structured than before.
NOCAL has not only significantly increased the number of scholarship beneficiaries, but has now established clear cut and appropriate criteria for granting scholarships. (These criteria are often published in the media for the benefit of the public).
Also, beneficiaries or deserving students now come from all over the country and not just from a limited geographical area or a specific community.
Indeed, from a small number of four (4) students granted NOCAL scholarship to study abroad between 2010/2011 and with 15 beneficiaries in 2011/2012, the present NOCAL leadership is proud to state that in 2012/2013, a total of 20 students benefitted from the scholarship scheme. And for the current 2013/2014 period, the entity is processing 33 beneficiaries who are slated to attend various graduate schools overseas for academic year 2013/2014. Thus from an expenditure of US$300,000 in 2010/2011, NOCAL is poised to spend over US$3 million on scholarship in 2013/2014 — constituting a hundred percent increment over the amount spent on such overseas scholarship grantees in previously.
Again, unlike in the past when the scholarship program was randomly implemented, it is now focused and tailored to the needs of the Petroleum industry, especially in regard to specialization—with students studying for post graduate degrees in oil and gas related disciplines.
Meanwhile, NOCAL is concurrently supporting 1,513 scholarship beneficiaries locally—attending various institutions in the country and studying in various disciplines relevant to the development not only of the oil and gas industry, but also of the country as a whole.
At the Local level, NOCAL-sponsored students can be found at various institutions of learning, including the University of Liberia; Cuttington University; African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZU); United Methodist University (UMU); African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU); Stella Maris Polytechnic; Smythe Institute of Management & Technology; Lofa, Grand Bassa and Leigh-Sherman Community Colleges.”
On the issue of vocational education, NOCAL brags of instituting a critical and pivotal system to build the capacity of street boys and girls with vocational training.
NOCAL can now boast of nearly 1,150 vocational students benefitting from the entity’s vocational scholarship program at various institutions across the country, Dr. McClain indicated.