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GNPC PAYS TSATSU, WIFE AND 3 OTHERS GHS5M ‘COMPENSATION’

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At a time that the sick are dying because Government is refusing to negotiate meaningful conditions of service for medical doctors, the state-owned oil company, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, has, out of its kindness, decided to sign big, fat cheques to six employees, who parted ways with the Corporation 14 or 15 years ago.

At a time that the sick are dying because Government is refusing to negotiate meaningful conditions of service for medical doctors, the state-owned oil company, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, has, out of its kindness, decided to sign big, fat cheques to six employees, who parted ways with the Corporation 14 or 15 years ago.


They are the former Managing Director, Tsatsu Tsikata, his wife, Esther Cobbah (former head of Public Relations), Nana Boakye Asafo-Adjei (former Acting MD), Benjamin Spencer Dagadu (former head of Field Evaluation & Development) and now Deputy Minister, Energy, and the late Eric Cato Brown.
The new board, chaired by Felix Addo of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), has approved an ex-gratia package of up to GHS5 million for the five people, even though the head of legal of the Corporation has warned that there is no legal basis to do so.
There are two controversies associated with the awards. First, is whether indeed the beneficiaries are even entitled to it. Secondly, even if they are, what was the formula used and on what basis was that formula used to calculate such huge sums in their favour?
Mr Tsikata, who headed GNPC for nearly 13 years receives GHS1 million.  His wife, Esther Cobbah will be GHS600,000 richer. The man who acted as MD when Tsatsu Tsikata tactically left GNPC just before the December 2000 elections, Nana Asafu-Adjei, gets GHS950 million.
Deputy Energy Minister, Mr Dagadu, is laughing all the way to the bank with GHS1 million.
It is still not clear how much more the estate of Cato Brown, who was at GNPC for 12 years, can expect, since there is evidence that  he received his full benefits when he was made redundant in December 2001. But, the GNPC board, whose membership includes Abrahm Amaliba and Anita Lokko, is using its “discretion to pay a separation benefit in the form of ex gratia payments in recognition of their long service to the Corporation.”
Though there are no official record of demands by the recipients for these monies to be paid, staff at the Ministry of Finance are curious as to why Alex Mould, the Chief Executive Officer of GNPC would even entertain them.
The legal opinion of Adwoa Wiafe, Manager in charge of the Legal Department of GNPC, written 30th July, 2015 is instructive. She sees no legal basis for it other than discretionary.
“Any legal claims against the Corporation by the former employees is statute barred,” she argues.
Section 4(F) of the Limitations Act 1972 gives up to six years for an aggrieved party to “enforce an action to recover any sum recoverable by virtue of any enactment…”
There is certainly no record that any of the people involved took any legal action against the Corporation when their services were terminated.
Mr Tsikata, for instance, was seconded from the University of Ghana in October 1988 and in December 2000 was moved from his post as MD of GNPC and apparently appointed Advisor on Energy at the Ministry of Energy by the Rawlings administration.
The GNPC lawyer writes, “He did not make a claim against the Corporation for payment of a separation package and/or accrued benefits at the time.”
Nana Asafo-Adjei, who served GNPC for 20 years was asked to proceed on leave in April 2001. He was entitled to six months compensation plus any other benefits due him. Yet, he made no request for any, only to be caught by the Limitations Act.
In the case of Mr Dagadu, after 23 years of service as geologist for GNPC, he was placed under contract during the restructuring of GNPC at the time. In May 2003, he was transferred to Western Power Company, a GNPC subsidiary at the time on the West African Gas Pipeline project. It was later that year transferred to the Volta River Authority, with him remaining an employer there.
And, yet the GNPC board has considered it reasonable to give the Deputy Minister an ex gratia of some GHS1 million.
 
More on this soon.