PRESS RELEASE – Setting the Record Straight: A Rebuttal to Recent Allegations By Jake Kabakole Officer-in-Charge National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL)

In light of recent reports published by certain media outlets, it has become necessary to address the misinformation and smear campaign directed at myself and the esteemed Office of the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). As I have unequivocally stated, and I am now emphatically restating, I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG!! While all evidence exists that the media outlets responsible for spreading this misinformation are simply tabloids, and not one of our more reputable brick and mortar media houses, we deem it prudent as is within my fiduciary responsibility, to get ahead of this mill and nip it in the bud.

Unfounded Allegations: Let me be unquestionably clear, the allegations of “squandering” of funds amounting to US$ 600,000 are baseless, malicious, unfounded and without merit. At no point in my oversight of the national oil company, have I signed off on any disbursement of such a sum to anybody. These claims are not only false but are a deliberate attempt at tarnishing a reputation built on integrity and dedication to national Progress. I am further convinced that the actors behind this ruse have a more immediate intention to discredit the President’s appointment of officers in charge and to undermine the amount of consideration His Excellency gave to making this decision. With this realization, I am even more compelled to address the issues as I am now doing.

Gratitude to Supporters: We extend our heartfelt thanks to the information minister and the leaders of civil society for their unwavering support during this time. Their recognition of the truth and their vocal opposition to these unfounded accusations underscore their commitment to justice and transparency. To those media institutions who demonstrated remarkable professionalism in investigative journalism, by seeking us out and making inquiries into the validity of the story. While many of us may assume this to be intuitive standard practice on the part of the media, this fiasco and the related publications are evident that it is not so. What we see instead is the sort of yellow journalism that is characteristic of a smear campaign. So, I really appreciate those institutions who exercised due diligence to uphold both the integrity and dignity of our fourth estate.

The Facts:

To set the record straight, here are the factual details of the project’s progression and financial transactions prior to my appointment as Officer-in-Charge:

  1. On July 13, 2023, NOCAL entered into a contract with BMC Group Inc. for an office construction project, valued initially at $2.9 million. This contract was duly processed and appears to have adhered to the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) guidelines.
  2. The first payment to BMC, totaling $1,456,928.84 million, was made on July 17, 2023, signifying the commencement of the contractual obligations. This payment was made in two separate checks of US$728,464.42 each.
  3. Actual construction began in November 2023, followed by a contract amendment on November 23, 2023. This amendment, approved by the PPCC, increased the contract value to $4.5 million to accommodate necessary project adjustments. The new amount represented an increment of $1.5 million or 51.72%.
  4. NOCAL hired TSC Global as its Project Consultant with the primary responsibility of monitoring, evaluating, and certifying that BMC was carrying out the Project according to the terms and specifications of the contract.
  5. On December 15, 2023, an additional payment of $ 796,259.39 was made to BMC, bringing the total disbursement to $2.2 million, which accounted for 50% of the revised contract value.

It is crucial to note that these developments, including the financial transactions, occurred before my appointment. My official responsibilities commenced on January 29, 2024, by which time the project was well advanced, and the outlined payments had been completed.

In continuation of the facts stated above we have paid 6.7 % of employees’ educational benefits which my predecessor did not see as a priority over a five year period. The leadership of the company at the time claimed it was executing austerity measures and educational benefits were not as critical for the operational expense of NOCAL. The Institution on my arrival owed 132, 750.00 USD to staff for educational benefits. The same leadership unfortunately during their departure paid severance in the tune of close to half a million dollars defeating their previous argument for refusing to pay employee benefit.

In Conclusion: I remain unwavering in my Oversight of this very important national corporation, this is my commitment to the betterment of NOCAL and, by extension, our beloved country, Liberia. I understand how I may appear as an easy target on account of my relationship to his Excellency, but no-one should be fooled by this. This is not a weakness, but a strength that encourages me to be extra diligent and to work demonstratively harder to achieve the pillars of the RESCUE agenda for Liberia. If anyone has evidence to contradict anything stated here, I challenge you to provide it to the public or refrain from impugning my good character. The attempts to discredit me, fueled by political motives, will not deter us from our mission to rescue Liberia through the responsible management of our oil resources.

We remain focused on our goals and will not be swayed by malicious narratives. We call on the media to uphold the principles of fair and accurate reporting and to refrain from participating in character assassination.

Under my leadership, The National Oil Company of Liberia remains dedicated to the responsible development and management of Liberia’s energy resources, driving growth, and ensuring the prosperity of our nation.

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