Turf war as GNPC CEO, Board chair lock horns

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GNPC board chairman Freddie Blay
GNPC board chairman Freddie Blay

The hiring of a Procurement Manager at the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) appears to be causing a misunderstanding between the Corporation’s CEO and its Board Chairman, Freddie Blay.

A directive issued by the Board Chair for the manager to be employed seems to have angered the CEO, Dr K.K. Sarpong who has questioned why the order was given in his absence and without his consent.

In a leaked letter sighted by Joy News, Mr Blay is chastised for overstepping his bounds by ordering the Chief Finance Officer to recruit a Procurement Manager.

“GNPC’s operative organogram gives direct supervision of the procurement function to the General Manager (Administration) who reports, however, to the Chief Finance Officer. Having oversight of the procurement function does not make the Chief Finance Officer the appointing authority under the rules and regulations of GNPC.

“I wish to reiterate that the responsibility for hiring personnel lies within the purview of the Chief Executive and not the Chief Finance Officer. I have already advised Mrs. Comfort Aniagyei, Chief Finance Officer that she has no mandate to recruit personnel, notwithstanding your directive unless I expressly instruct her to do so,” Dr Sarpong said.

The CEO also questioned Mr Blay’s decision to meddle in a matter that is solely his preserve and stated that any such actions will be “nullified, your directive notwithstanding.”

He stressed that in line with good corporate governance practices a Board Chairman’s contact with an organisation is through the CEO, the Board Secretary and the Internal Auditor.

For Dr Sarpong therefore, it was irregular Mr Blay to be dealing directly with subordinates of a CEO.

“By such conduct, the Chairman festers parallel authority in the organisation making governance and management extremely difficult. This is exactly the situation you have created in GNPC.”

He acknowledges the challenges that have marred the Corporation’s procurement procedures but said he had the responsibility to make things right, and that he is doing.

Mr Blay’s interference, in his view, is needless.

Dr Sarpong accused Mr Blay who is also Chairman of the governing NPP of using his position in the party to force his way through on matters which must be handled professionally.

“I will humbly advise that you desist from issuing out instructions to my subordinates and rather deal with me as Chief Executive on matters relating to the Corporation,” he added.

He insists that a decision on whether or not to recruit staff is a sole preserve on the CEO and Mr Blay’s meddling through other staff under him undermines the legitimacy of his authority.

“Your role as Chairman of the Board does not extend to executive functionsincluding the recruitment of employees,” Dr Sarpong added in his letter.

In a response to the CEO’s letter, Mr Blay lashed out at him for making baseless allegations against his person and questioning the integrity of the Board.

He said Dr Sarpong is only CEO and is subject to the Board and that his point disagreeing with directives issued in his absence are moot.

“The day-to-day management role and business of GNPC, delegated by the Board ofDirectors to the Chief Executive Officer, cannot and does not cease when the CEO is temporarily absent from the country or on vacation.

“Indeed, best corporate practice worldwide, enjoins a good and competent CEO to have a management succession plan Within that context, the CEO hands over to a Deputy, who continues with the day-to-day corporate management functions m his or her absence,” Mr Blay said in his letter.

He added that under the specific case in question, the GNPC the law requires that “a Senior Officer of the Corporation shall be designated by the Board” to perform the functions of the CEO in his absence.

Therefore, the order given to the Chief Finance Officer who is a senior staff is not out of place.

The NPP Chairman said a Board meeting at which orders were given for the new manager to be hired became necessary in light of recent and widespread discussions in the public space.

He noted that it became necessary to ascertain that Dr Sarpong’s job contract, appointment and continued tenure, sanctioned by the Board, did not violate any provisions of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana with particular reference to us Article 199.

His complaint, thereof of decisions being taken in his absence is neither here nor there because, “if you were at post, you would have been recused from participating in the discussion of this particular matter.”

He disagrees with the accusation that he is unnecessarily pocking his nose where it does not belong and using his position in the governing party to influence decision making at GNPC.

Mr Blay said he finds the claim to be “malevolent as it is mischievous. It is deftlycalculated to damage my name and reputation, impugn the independence of the Board and its decisions. I seriously take great exception to it.”

He, in turn, accused Dr Sarpong of weak managerial style that has led to the Central Tender Board to question the Corporation’s Procurement Practices.

Dr KK Sarpong

“The truth is, under your leadership and watch; our Corporation has had no Procurement Manager, for so long, in spite of several directives from the Board to your office to take the necessary steps to fill that vacancy. This dereliction of duty can simply not continue.

“Playing the blame game, which you are now engaged in, will not pass. The buck stops with you Dr. K.K. Sarpong, as the CEO. Please understand and very clearly, that the recent Board directive and two-week ultimatum on this matter was conveyed to the Chief Finance Officer, also in her capacity as Acting CEO, when we held that particularemergency meeting. The ultimatum stands and it is up to you to comply or chose to ignore it.”

He added that Dr Sarpong is absolutely wrong to assume that he is the appointing authority and can nullify decision and directives of the Board’

“It should be clear to you that the Board and not the CEO is the appointing authority. Professionalism, which you refer to in your letter, requires that the CEO of a state-owned entity operate within and respect the law.

“While you must take the initiative, you are legally and professionally obliged to seek approval of the Board for all recruitments and any restructuring,” he stated.


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