The staff of Ghana’s national oil company, GNPC, are fighting one another because of their acting Chief Executive, Opoku Ahweneeh-Danquah.
While a section of the workforce is accusing the acting CEO of exhibiting crass incompetence and causing financial loss to the Corporation, others are backing him, claiming his performance has been stellar.
Mr. Opoku Ahweneeh-Danquah, a relative of Nana Asante Bediatuo, Secretary of President Nana Akufo-Addo, was appointed as acting CEO barely four months ago after the exit of the former CEO, Dr K.K Sarpong.
The current CEO’s appointment is said to have been engineered by the President’s Secretary and Board Chairman of GNPC, Freddie Blay, whose interest was to get someone he could easily control.
A section of the GNPC staff, who described themselves as the Concerned Staff of GNPC, in a 10-paragraph petition, addressed to the Board Chairman of GNPC and copied to Board Members, Minister for Energy and Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy and Mines, faulted the Acting CEO as having an erratic behaviour that often sets him in confrontation with experts and management staff, whom he should be learning from.
The Concerned GNPC Staff said in their petition that “during Mr. Opoku Danquah’s onboarding week, he was seen arguing loudly with experts and appeared not to understand the basic principle of governance, finance audit and public sector processes. We believe he could have managed his emotions more professionally in dealing with those experts.”
They also accused him of being reckless, presenting to staff financial statements in which he cited his predecessor for misappropriation, but his claims turned out to be false.
“While he falsely accused his predecessor to have misappropriated the Corporation’s funds of about US$12 million, he smartly concealed the US$100 million funds the Corporation had received from Jubilee Holding Lifting in his financial report.”
Again, Ahweneeh-Danquah is accused of side-lining General Managers and Deputy Chief Executives in his daily running of the affairs of GNPC, preferring instead to deal with four officers he has appointed as special aides to interface with them, inviting these ‘darling boys’ to sit in Executive Committee (Excom) meetings and Entity Tender Committee (ETC) meetings.
They further accused the Acting CEO of violating the guidelines and policy on employee mobility and transfers.
They noted that the Acting CEO transferred thirty employees across the business without regard for career aspirations and progression.
The GNPC boss’ erratic behaviour and indecision, according to the workers, have resulted in the cancellation of an important workshop by the Corporation after postponing it twice, for which the organisation now owes money.
“The Corporation is to pay Royal Senchi Hotel an amount of about GH 200,000.00 for a workshop the Corporation never attended because of his indecision. He postponed the workshop on two occasions and eventually cancelled it and the hotel is rightfully asking GNPC to pay. We believe a consultation with relevant stakeholders on this matter would have averted this financial loss.
“The CEO’s behaviour and conduct, and particularly his leadership style has created an unhealthy working environment in GNPC. For instance, the GNPC working environment became so unhealthy…absenteeism became the order of the day until the HR Division started to control it.
“At the time of writing this letter, the environment is still charged, and employees are demotivated, uncertain, and feeling insecure, as they do not know what is going to happen next,’’ the petition stated.
However, these claims against the acting CEO have been refuted by the Senior Staff Union of the Corporation.
In a statement issued by the Union on Tuesday, 9th August 2022, it said: “The Executive body of the Senior Staff Union wishes to state on record that we have not received any complaint or grievance whatsoever from any person or group regarding the conduct of our Chief Executive.”
The Union claims there is currently industrial harmony, and the prevailing atmosphere in the Corporation is one of calmness.
The Union noted that the petition by concerned the GNPC staff has become a source of worry to some well-meaning members of the Union.
The Union reminded members of the terms in their Condition of Service, especially on grievance management and admonished members to uphold them at all times.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Corporate Affairs Department of GNPC also claims Mr Danquah has brought on board some positive energy to the operations of GNPC and is determinedly steering the corporation in the right direction.
“There is indeed a general sense of hope and great expectations amongst staff.”