Guarantee Liberians a Stake in the Petroleum Sector: NOCAL, Please LISTEN

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There are some people in this government, Ministers especially, who are so “upset” with the media, the Daily Observer in particular, that they claim they “don’t read the tabloids anymore.” 

But these officials fail to realize that the media constitute an “early warning system.”  It is the media’s responsibility to display vividly and in intelligible language, even drawings, the warning signs for all to see.  And this ALL includes not only the public who are the chief patrons of the media, but most especially the government, which is in charge of national affairs and which should be the first we should alert about things going wrong in the country, or issues and concerns burning in the hearts and minds of the citizenry that GOL should know about.  For it is GOL who is not only in charge, but has the capacity and responsibility to DO something about it. 

However, it is too often that when media reporting and comment do not go the government’s way, the people in government are prepared to dismiss the media as “tabloids.”

If, however, things were going smoothly in the country, why would the President of Liberia make the drastic changes in government that did last Sunday?  We thank her for taking those actions, although we reserve the right, in time, to comment on the appointments—comments which we pray will be taken in good faith.

This editorial is about another sector of the government whose attention we are calling to a very critical natural resource, Liberia’s newly found petroleum. 

We wish here to make one main point: since 1926 the Liberian government has been dishing out to   foreigners its rich natural resources—be they huge tracks of forest, land or minerals, without any local participation.  Now we have discovered an entirely new resource, petroleum.  And it seems GOL is hell bent on giving this, too, away without any Liberian participation.

That is why we are constrained to write yet another editorial, appealing to, calling upon, pleading with, even begging NOCAL NOT TO MAKE THAT SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.

On September 23, 2014 we said editorially that NOCAL should do everything in its power to ensure substantial Liberian participation in the petroleum sector.  We urged the company to ensure that Liberian participation should be at least 30%, with NOCAL itself garnering another 20%, and foreign companies, 50%. 

Now another thinking Liberian, Harry A. Greaves, has come forward with some concrete proposals toward this same end.  He is suggesting that NOCAL extend the dates for final bidding and notification of successful bidders to allow time for Liberians to be involved.  He is further suggesting that in order to avoid accusations of cronyism, for which this government has been heavily criticized, GOL officials should be prohibited from participating in the bidding, directly or indirectly.

Mr. Greaves’ suggestions are published in the Friday, November 14 edition of the Daily Observer.

We pray that NOCAL will seriously consider those suggestions.

The Daily Observer, in its September 23 editorial, further suggested that NOCAL, having considerable financial resources, could use some of its resources to empower credible Liberians to participate in the petroleum sector, and when they start making money, pay NOCAL back.  This is one tangible way to ensure that Liberians are, for once, not left out of yet another viable and lucrative sector that could help them to benefit and prosper from their own resources.

We submit that we are not petroleum experts; yet in our own way we advance these ideas that will hopefully propel NOCAL to start thinking seriously about how Liberians can, at long last, share in its enormous resources that will lead us to more effective participation in our national economy as a pathway to progress and prosperity for all.

NOCAL, we BEG you to please listen.   

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