NOCAL VP Tenny Resigns -Says CEO Gray Running One-Man Show…But

MONROVIA : The once lucrative National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) hit rock bottom in 2014 amidst rumors of gross mismanagement of oil revenues, rampant corruption and nepotism on the part of NOCAL executives at time. The ascendency of President George Manneh Weah to national leadership in 2018 was seen by many as a means through which financially raped state enterprises like NOCAL could be revamped and restructured, while ensuring that much need resources owed the company would be recouped in a timely fashion. The Weah leadership therefore wasted no time in appointing a new corps of executives led by Attorney Seifuah-Mai Gray, and a Board of Directors led by Mr. Richard Devine, to lead NOCAL to vibrancy. Few years down the line, however, instead of paving the way for their successors to inherit a resuscitated national oil company, NOCAL now seems to be fighting a last gasp battle for life, with news of its Vice President for Technical Affairs, Dr. Lester Zomatic Tenny, having tendered his resignation over a plethora of allegations against his boss Attorney Gray, who has also countered his allegations as false.

In his letter of resignation dated February 23, 2022 to the NOCAL Board of Directors (a copy of which is in possession of The Analyst), Mr. Tenny disclosed that he had a conversation with the President of Liberia expressing his willingness to resign as Vice President/Technical Services of NOCAL, about three weeks as of the date of his resignation.

“I brought this decision of mine to you almost three weeks ago and you advised I should document my reasons for such decision to resign. I followed your advice in respect to the relationship we have built and cultivated over the period. I sent in a letter of complaint dated February 8th of this year and have waited sufficiently for redress and yet no such redress has occurred. This leaves me with no option but to fulfill my initial intent and thereby send in this letter of resignation from my official duties. I believe that the narrative leading to my resignation are sufficiently spelled out in my first letter and I see it redundant to present it here,” Tenny stated in his letter to the NOCAL Board.

Continuing in his letter of resignation, Mr. Tenny said it is his hope, and that of all well-meaning Liberians, for Liberia to move forward; thus the quality of those entrusted by H.E. George Weah would have facilitated such progression.

“Quite on the contrary, it seems we are far from achieving such goal I have tolerated the presence of the CEO of NOCAL in good faith in an attempt to show maturity and transfer valuable knowledge to move the sector forward. On the contrary, this bastion of knowledge possessed by me was not tapped into nor utilized for the purposes for which we were entrusted the mantle of authority to transform the oil sector. This is quite unfortunate and however one of those events where a professional like me regrets his presence in a working environment completely overwhelmed with leadership deficit, intolerable and inexcusable incompetence shown by the CEO.

“Notwithstanding, we all can appreciate the vision of our leader and President, H.E. Weah and our sole responsibility was to deliver on his trust. This trust in my view cannot be achieved with the type of diminished quality of the CEO. What is even more frustrating is the fact that everybody, including previous and current members of the board, employees of NOCAL are aware of this huge incompetence possessed by the CEO and no one can collectively draw her attention on this matter. We hope this situation could be remedied soonest. To conclude, it would be appreciated were the Board to ensure that outstanding salaries arrear of 6 months owed me be addressed in a timely manner and NOCAL’s assigned vehicle will be turned over to the company,” the very aggrieved NOCAL VP for Technical Services stated in his letter of resignation.

Background to resignation

Before his resignation, this paper learned that Professor Lester Zomatic Tenny had complained his boss to the NOCAL Board of Directors on February 7, 2022, outlining a litany of charges which he wished the Board would remedy.

In His letter of complaint addressed to the NOCAL Board Chairman Richard Devine, Mr. Tenny expressed his utter dismay, dissatisfaction and displeasure over what he saw as the persistent unprofessional and ill-mannered attitude of the President and CEO of the company, Attorney Saifuah-Mai Gray.

“Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board, the gravity and depth of what I feel right now comes from a long line of missteps and unacceptable behavior on the part of Attorney Gray that lacks all fashion of leadership and weak corporate judgment,” Tenny stated.

Among his complaints, Tenny particularly spoke about his boss’s refusal to listen to him regarding her decision to take NOCAL’s data partner TGS to court over unpaid arrears.

“Her failure to listen to me at the onset of our administration, when I advised her not to take TGS to court for a US$20M case from the past administration. I indicated that our TOR (terms of reference) is to rebrand NOCAL and not to relive the past. She contracted Clyde & Co to drag TGS (our only revenue partner) through a legal battle,” Tenny stated bluntly.

Among other allegations, Tenny said Attorney Gray refused to listen to him when he advised to sign the re-process agreement from TGS to begin the process of getting ExxonMobil back into Liberian’s basin and bring an immediate financial relief of US$1M and subsequently US$4M; her failure to allow him to handle technical discussions that will bring significant dividend to the company that has cost NOCAL to presently be in a rather financially bad position; CEO Gray’s utter disrespect for staff and even myself as she speaks to everyone in any way she feels like; her failure to see the Magnus to a successful end, making NOCAL to throw away a whole year of very hard work with absolutely no reward to the company at all.

“Her outright refusal to give me any update on the Gladius deal with NOCAL. This Government-to-Government (G-to-G) crude sale deal between NNPC (Nigeria) and NOCAL has not brought any dividend to the company. She keeps all the details of this operation to her chest; and her failed handling of the Mintwood request to get into block LB-10 of the Liberia basin. She has partially signed an agreement with the company and has left all discussions pending for over a year because of her indecisive nature,” Tenny charged.

Gray Responds to Tenny

Without letting sleeping dogs lie, the NOCAL CEO and President, Attorney Seifuah-Mai Gray, said she felt compelled to respond to the litany of allegations levied against her by someone who she feels is on a warpath not only to damage her hard-earned reputation because he wants to quit from the onerous duty of transforming a broken down state enterprise; but to break down NOCAL as well.

Responding to Tenny through a February 16, 2022 letter to the Board of Directors, Attorney Gray said she is constrained to respond to her deputy’s letter to the Board dated February 7, 2022, where he made all sorts of falsehoods and misrepresentations of facts of the actual happenings at the National Oil Company of Liberia.

“As you may be aware and the records shall reflect, we inherited NOCAL after it hit rock bottom in 2014. It never picked up even after we took over. The NOCAL we knew in the past was hit with allegations of corruption and mismanagement by our predecessors. When we took over, were given a mandate to fix it and do it right in a way that our successors would not be faced with all the challenges we are being faced with today. We took up the challenge knowing the road to resuscitation will be extremely bumpy.

“With all I mentioned herein above, I am taken aback that Mr. Tenny would elect to mislead the Board with his letter clearly because he has no interest in the company and has vowed to ensure its ultimate closure and in doing so, destroy my hard earned reputation. Please find attached his emails of consistent insults and attack on my person for your ease of reference,” Attorney Gray informed the NOCAL Board.

Regarding the issue of US$20M waiver by Cllr. Sherman, Attorney Gray said the Board resolved that NOCAL engaged a law firm to represent them in getting monies owed to the company by NOCA’s data Partner TGS.

“This issue is flagged yearly in the audit reports. The legislature called a public hearing on the matter also. LACC has written to us on the issue of the money and to give progress on how far we have gotten in retrieving it. It beats my imagination how Mr. Tenny would forget all this and choose to write all the lies stipulated in his letter. The file is available for review. Also attached are letters from the Legislature and LACC for your ease of reference.

“He claims I failed to listen to him to sign a reprocessing agreement. I asked him to do a write up and present it to the Executive and he refused. I shall share the email exchanges,” Attorney Gray stated in her response to Tenny’s allegations against her.

NOCAL executives spoken to, who have asked not to be named in this report, say they are really taken aback by Mr. Tenny’s allegations against the NOCAL CEO, and his abrupt resignation. According to an insider, the Board has invited Professor Tenny to an emergency meeting with the hope of having a meeting of the minds.

“I believe the Board hasn’t seen it fit to dwell on those personal issues raised in Tenny’s communication to them prior to his resignation, but where those allegations impugn on the reputation of the institution, it is duty bound for the Board to investigate. For instance, the issue of the lawsuit against TGS is even beyond Attorney Gray. This is grievous national concern,” a concerned NOCAL executive told this paper.

All attempts to contact Professor Tenny and CEO Gray prior to this publication proved futile.

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