The Man: Egbert Faibbille Jnr

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He assumed office as the CEO of the Commission a little over a year and already made positive strides with affairs at Ghana’s Upstream Regulator. He is optimistic of expanding the Commission’s vision during his tenure. GH Upstream News caught up with Mr. Egbert Faibille Jnr, CEO of Petroleum Commission, Ghana and brings you excerpts of his interview.

Gh-UN: Good Afternoon Chief, thank you for granting us this audience.

EFJ: You are welcome.

Gh-UN: What were your first impressions and your

vision for the PC when you took up this role?

EFJ: The Petroleum Commission is well set-up and it has its own challenges but that is expected in every organised setup. I enjoy working with everyone at the Commission. I think that the Board also enjoys working with everyone at the Commission. I am impressed with the level of cooperation and support I have received since I assumed duty.

The Commission already has its own vision, which is to become “A world class regulator’’ I share that vision and I seek to expand that vision so that by the time I leave here the record will stand that whatever I came to meet I have improved on it and made it better.

Gh-UN: Well said, but you will agree with me that could be a tall order. How do you intend to achieve the PCs vision of becoming “A world class regulator’’?

EFJ: I think that each of my predecessors Dr. Kwabena Donkor, Nii Adzei Akpor and Theophilus Ahwireng did their best. They all in their own way left behind a very strong Commission and I intend to make it even stronger. I will do it with a different leadership approach, different leadership skill, collective responsibilities particularly among my Directors, a lot of dynamism and most importantly making the laws that regulate the upstream petroleum sector work. I do not want to go into details, but I think that if this Commission wants to deliver on its mandate for the Government and the people of Ghana, then we need to apply our laws.

Gh-UN: On your role as the CEO of the Commission, would you say that the magnitude of this job has hit you yet?

EFJ: I am essentially a hard-working person. If you ask my associates, my private firm and people I have worked with in the media they will most likely say that when I have a task to execute I do not look left or right. I do it and ensure that it is done well. I must also thank particularly my Directors I came to meet at the PC; their level of cooperation has enhanced my work and every staff deserves to be commended.

I must say that nothing has been denied me with respect to capacity to work with my own ideas. I have brought some innovations with respect to how things are done. I am very much focused on my role and I hope that by the time I leave here it will be said that I was a very good leader.

Gh-UN: Let me take you back to 2007. You recall the general feel of expectations 10 years ago in the country, following the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities. It seems there is a general sense of despondency over the years. Can you confidently say that we have somewhat met expectations of Ghanaians?

EFJ: So, the question is, what do the people of Ghana expect and what do our laws as a nation permit the Regulator and Government to give? I am of the view that as much as it is legitimate for the people of Ghana (stakeholders) to have such high expectations, we as owners and managers of the petroleum resource need to manage these expectations as well. We need to develop a constant engagement framework with identifiable groups with chiefs, fishermen, Parliament etc. to let them understand the structures of Petroleum Agreements that the Government has signed.

When you mention oil, everyone looks up to the accruals from the oil that has been found. Everybody’s hackles go up because they think rightly or wrongly that it means money. But money that is regulated by good governance is what will ensure that the people of Ghana benefit from the oil resource; not taking petroleum money or funds and placing it into individuals’ hands to go and spend it. We owe a duty to generations yet unborn to have some accruals. So, I will plead with all Ghanaians to lower our expectations and let us all think about Ghana and the future and not make too many demands, some of which may not even be backed by law.

Gh-UN: Again, on expectation management it appears that people are not satisfied with the progress of local content in the industry. What are your thoughts?

EFJ: I want to say that local content is an article of faith of the Commission and since I assumed office, there have been various engagements where I have insisted on L.I.2204 being made to work. In L.I.2204 lies our salvation as far as local content is concerned and I have made a pledge with the support of the Board that we will go all out with respect to L.I.2204. In the coming months you will see all kinds of initiatives to ensure that indigenous Ghanaian companies registered with the Commission are better positioned to play key roles in the oil and gas industry.

Gh-UN: On your words of encouragement to our stakeholders, some have said that Petroleum Commission hasn’t been the regulatory body it should be and many haven’t believed in our vision of becoming “A world class regulator” on that front. What can you say to encourage both staff and stakeholders?

EFJ: I will disagree with anyone who says the Petroleum Commission hasn’t done well, I think that the Petroleum Commission has done well even within its limitations, I blame a certain lack of understanding on the part of our stakeholders. A lot of people think that because there is a concept of local content and just because one owns a company it automatically means one must win a contract. Companies need to understand that there are international giants in the industry which have their own strictures that they follow.

It is that niche and strictures that the local companies must understand and strive to attain in order to be competitive in the industry and the Petroleum Commission needs to facilitate that process of understanding. The Board has looked at this recently and so we are going to hold a number of seminars especially in the area of procurement. We will bring the industry together and map out the procurement processes and the standards that we want companies to meet. So that by the time we all leave these seminars we will be on the same page as to what is expected from both sides – such as bidding procedures and processes etc.

Gh-UN: Let’s move away from your role as the CEO of the Commission and give us peak into how your typical day looks?

EFJ: My typical day starts at about 4:30am by which time I am awake, I read my Bible, have my quiet time, say my prayers and then sometimes have my breakfast or not depending on how I feel, after which I set off to work. At the office, I look at what is in my in-tray, have meetings with my Directors and other staff on critical issues. Sometimes I need to report at the Ministry of Energy with respect to the Commission’s key activities. It’s really a busy schedule but I try to do all that within a reasonable turnaround time so that what is expected from you.

Gh-UN: That’s inspiring…and a good note to end this interview… Before that, can you tell us about three key personalities you would like to meet and why?

GH – UPSTREAM NEWS

office is cascaded for people to activate their mandates and deliver on their roles for Ghana.

Gh-UN: I was trying to draw you away from the Commission but it looks like the Commission takes a lot of your time (laughs). Can you give us insight about how your weekends are?

EFJ: (laughs) On weekends I relax, I go out with friends, I visit people and others also visit. Also, I like to read a lot, so often, I am locked up during the early part of Saturday mornings reading and that is where I catch up on magazines like Newsweek, The Economist, and all kinds of magazines and any good material I can lay my hands on.

Gh-UN: Did you always aspire to be a journalist and a lawyer; was that always your passion?

EFJ: When I was growing up I had this mentality that in this life one has to make a case for everything he/she deserves, so even freedom we had to fight for freedom as a nation and so I took my history lessons in preparatory school very seriously. I found out that the struggle for Ghana’s independence involved a lot of people who were lawyers and journalists. So, you can name Dr. J.B Danquah, Attoh Ahoma, Dr. F.V. Nanka Bruce who was a medical doctor but owned a newspaper and several others who were running newspapers and were also lawyers. As a result, I said to myself “this is the way to go”.

I knew where I was going as early as about class two or three in preparatory school, because the teachers used to tell us stories about these great men who led the fight for Ghana’s independence and nationhood from the British and I was like “this is the route to go” and that is how come I ended up as a journalist and eventually a lawyer, I like advocacy.

Gh-UN: Over the years practicing as a lawyer and journalist is there any remarkable or unforgettable experience you will like to share with us?

EFJ: Well lot

EFJ: About four to five years ago I was sitting in court and there was this woman who had come from prison to pursue an appeal. She had been convicted by a Cape Coast Circuit Court and the reason was that she took money from some traders to supply them with salted fish locally known as known as “kako” from Nigeria and later gave the money to a man who promised to supply her with the “kako” from the Gambia at a cheaper price; but the gentleman ended up not suppling the “kako” so both of them were arrested by the Police and sent to Cape Coast Circuit Court.

The lady was the first accused on the charge sheet and the gentleman was the second accused. The Police told her that when she is asked in court whether she is guilty or not guilty of the charges, she should plead guilty. So, when she was asked at the court whether she is guilty or not guilty she pleaded guilty on about nine counts–the money involved was about GH¢30,000.

Immediately, the Judge convicted and jailed her for the offence of fictitious trading and she was sent to the Nsawam Prison. When she was going to prison she had a one-year old child strapped at her back. Ironically, on the same charge sheet, the gentleman she gave the money to had been charged with defrauding the woman by false pretences but because he had pleaded not guilty. Sadly, any time the case was called she could not be brought to court by the police as a prosecution witness to testify against the man.

Eventually he was discharge and granted bail. When I found out the facts, I opted to take up the case for free. I did it and the trial Judge found wisdom in what I was saying and freed her. She still calls me every now and then to say thank you.

Gh-UN: That’s inspiring…and a good note to end this interview… Before that, can you tell us about three key personalities you would like to meet and why?

Interview with the CEO contd.

EFJ: I want to meet Barack Obama not because he was once the President of the United States, but for his advocacy, manner of speech and convictions. I also want to meet Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Party of South Africa and one-time ANC youth leader. I am just fascinated by his understanding of matters and some of his positions. And the last person I would like to meet is Mariama Issah from Nigeria. I have read about her and I think she is really a beacon for African women with the height she has attained.

Gh-UN: I cannot end this interview without asking which football team is your favourite and if you play football yourself?

EFJ: I am a very good footballer or used to be and I have a number of football teams I support. In Ghana, Accra Hearts of Oak, (I am a Phobian), in England, Chelsea, Spain, Real Madrid and in Germany, Bayern Munich.

Gh-UN: Thank you for your time.

EFJ: My pleasure

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