Exclusive reports reaching the Republic Newspaper indicates that the Board Chairman of the Ghana Gas National Gas Company (GNGC), Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, has tendered in his resignation to the President.
It is unclear if Dr. Botchwey has also resigned as the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) along with his GNGC post.
Reliable sources have confirmed that the resignation letter has been received by the Presidency, but it is yet uncertain if President John Dramani Mahama has accepted this high-profile resignation or not. This paper can also not immediately confirm the reasons behind the shocking resignation.
But there are indications that Dr. Botchwey may have been prompted by his alleged unhappiness about the government’s decision to merge the GNGC with the state body responsible for upstream petroleum and gas sector- the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
The merger, which almost degenerated into fisticuffs between Dr. Botchwey and the Minister of Energy Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, is said be strongly opposed by Dr. Botchwey who suspects that his role will significantly diminish in the new scheme of things in a GNGC merger with GNPC.
According to our sources, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey has attempted to present the GNPC takeover as “arbitrary” and “crude.
Dr. Botchwey’s resignation has set about wild speculations, including the fact that he may have decided to resign to spite the Minister of Energy and the Finance Minister whom it is believed he has strong reservations about.
Meanwhile, Dr. Botchwey’s resignation has also reignited an age-old criticism that he is not a team player; fond of walking away when things are not done his way. He resigned from his position as the substantive Finance Minister during the Jerry John Rawlings administration in the 1990s for controversial reasons. He also temporarily resigned from his political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) several years ago when he was beaten to the flagbearership position by late Professor Evans Atta Mills.
The Republic Newspaper can confirm that the Mahama-led administration was forced to consider a merger between Dr. Botchwey’s GNGC and GNPC because of a string of “disappointing” inactions of the board of GNGC headed by Dr. Kwesi Botchwey.
This paper gathered from reliable sources within the Energy Ministry and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning that unproductiveness of the GNGC Board was responsible for preventing the country’s first gas infrastructure from coming on stream within the timelines promised by the John Dramani Mahama-led administration.
Indeed, the timeline for the coming on stream of the Atuabo gas project has overshot its timeline by several months, much to the frustration of the Mahama-led administration whose image has been badly battered by the crippling energy crisis.
President Mahama is said to have been forced personally to sit in over seven meetings with the GNGC Board to discuss workable ways for the gas infrastructure to quickly come on stream following several “frivolous” excuses by Dr. Botchwey and the GNCG Board when justifying why they have failed to work within timelines for the much expected gas infrastructure.
Dr. Kwesi Botchwey is said to have hardly attended most of these meetings, and anytime he attends, he had virtually been begged to be present.
The Republic can confirm that due to this string of difficulties in the running of the GNGC, the government decided that the much experienced GNPC should take over affairs of the gas company.
A December 12, 2014 statement from the Ministry of Energy stated that Government had contracted PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as the transaction advisors for the transfer of government’s interest in GNGC to GNPC.
But Dr. Botchwey in a counter-statement immediately after the Ministry of Finance Statement, said the announcement about the completion of the takeover process was “surprising and premature,” saying the GNGC Board were “yet to receive any written indication from either the Minister for Finance or Minister for Energy on the takeover decision and the way forward as the Company prepares to meet the Transaction Advisor.”
This sparked a bitter turf war between the Ministry of Finance and Dr. Kwesi Botchwey’s GNGC Board, with Dr. Botchwey describing the procedure for the takeover as “crude”, among other carefully selected adjectives.
However, the Energy Minister, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah insists that the GNGC Board was well aware of the planned takeover, having held several meetings on the subject. This paper can confirm that some of the meetings had the presence of Alex Mould, the CEO of GNPC, officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Energy and Dr. Kwesi Botchwey himself.
Indeed, the discussion for the takeover hit a peak on December 3, 2014 with a final meeting approximately three days (on December 9, 2014) before the Ministry of Energy announced the takeover move. This was followed by a letter dated December 9, 2014, officially informing the GNGC about the final steps to the takeover.
The move will make Ghana gas a subsidiary of GNPC and according to Finance Minister Seth Terkper, “the consolidation of GNPC and GNGC will make it possible to enhance a more integrated management and continue financing of projects in the oil and gas enclave immediately.”