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Corruption at NilePet: How the Managing Director is Using Construction of NilePet Headquarters as a Tool of Looting the Company to Death

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By Deng Joseph Mareng, Juba, South Sudan

Friday, September 16, 2022 (thejubamirror.com) — The National Oil and Gas Company’s (Nilepet) project to construct or establish a permanent headquarters is a good project, and we should thank all the Nilepet managing directors who have contributed in various ways, from those who planned the project plan to those who carried it out on the ground as it is currently being done. It is a sequential-collective noble gesture that its recognition should not be misconstrued as a one-man accomplishment.

However, despite the praise for this project, I disagree with a number of its tenets. For instance, I believe that the project’s implementation was corrupted by corruption inside the company. The current managing director at the helm has used it as a means of gaining attention and retaining control over the Nilepet despite his deliberate failure. In order to make it clear what is really happening behind the scenes, I will make every effort to provide some points for a serious examination of the construction of the National Oil and Gas Company (Nilepet) permanent headquarters.

First of all, in engineering as a discipline, according to the jurists of the architects, there is a need for accuracy in the design at every stage of the architectural process because if the structural design fails to adhere to standards, codes, and a variety of calculation errors, engineering-wise, this could lead to a catastrophe that renders the structure unusable or shortens its lifespan, making it dangerous to human life since it would suddenly collapse unnoticed. If we try to apply the concept above to the undergoing construction of the National Oil and Gas Company, we will find that it is accompanied by errors in implementation, including inaccurate structural design, and evidence of this is the modifications and changes that were made in the building during construction, including the addition of four layers over seven layers.

Given the significant disparities in the loads in every way between the activities of each type of building, this shift is one of the mistakes made on purpose. It is not reasonable to modify a structure that was designated and redesigned for certain loads into a building that contains multiples of what was intended for it by design because any change or modification in the type of activities may cause problems for the building that grows upwards as the load increases. The addition of another model that was not part of the primary design from the start is another aspect of the modification that was employed in the firm’s creation. All of these operations run the risk of damaging the structure by pruning it to fall in the short run.

Dear Reader, the evidence for my argument is that, in the recent past, you may have seen a lot of horrifying images related to the damage inside the construction site of Nilepet; these images included cracks, piling, and leaking. These images were widely shared on social media platforms. They did not appear anywhere; in fact, the building is already on the verge of collapsing before it is finished. In my opinion, all of this damage is the result of implementation mistakes, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

According to my personal analysis, the National Oil and Gas Company building’s cracks are a result of poor shear and bending resistance, which frequently result from excessive loads, implementation problems, or poor design. In addition, the building’s ceiling suffers from the lack of a tilted cast, which allows water to accumulate on top of the tiles. On the other hand, it’s possible that the building lacks a waterproofing system, there are pour joints, or damage to the building caused water to leak in as a result of water leaking through the joints between the ceilings and walls.

Either the modifications of the columns that were made inside are the inevitable result of the process of denting the concrete columns resulting from the column not bearing the dominant loads on it due to the increase in the building layers according to the modifications, which leads to a failure in the pressure resistance of the concrete and a failure in the tensile resistance of the rebar. This is considered one of the errors resulting from modifications in master design or project implementation.

Secondly, what is funny and very shameful is that the issue is not related to the building’s non-compliance with modern engineering specifications only, but rather it has been transformed into a source of corruption and political scheme for the current managing director’s continuation in power despite the failures that he practices at the company level, according to what the current manager explained, linking his continuity in the company’s management to the end of the building. Therefore, he plans very shameful tactics to build the building slowly to assign a life-long of his leadership to the company’s management—the end of the building.

The Godfather is unaware that the project cannot be completed by a single individual. If he is engaging in corruption as he is now doing, he can be relieved and a new person can be brought in to carry out state-related projects since it is a state thing. His dark ploy of using this building as a plate of gold to eat the money of the people of South Sudan is unacceptable. This means that vast sums of money are collected under the building’s construction by the National Oil and Gas Company, so don’t expect the building to finish erection despite its lax engineering specifications because it has become a source of profit for the current administration of Nilepet.

Third, before independence, citizens and the government were concerned about the construction of refineries. If we look back in time to trace these concerns, we find that in 2009, the Council of Ministers of the Government of Southern Sudan agreed to report on the project for the construction of the refinery in the area called Akon of Warrap State, which was presented by Maulana the late John Luk, then Minister of Petroleum, and he said that an Italian company would be building the refinery.

At the time, the minister stated that the National Oil and Gas Business would be in charge of carrying out the project, while the winning company would be in charge of implementation. In a related concern, President Salva Kiir Mayardit set the cornerstone for the nation’s first refinery, Thiangryal, in Melut County, Upper Nile State in 2012 as part of the government’s plans to carry out a refinery project for independence rather than exporting South Sudan’s oil for refinement.

So, dear reader, despite the recognition that creating an atmosphere for the company’s employees is very important, this building is not considered one of the most important priorities that the company’s management should strive for because it does not contribute to upgrading the standard of living of citizens under the current conditions in which they live or it can’t improve their economic situation. The implementation of the refineries is one of the most important priorities that the company’s managing director failed to put on the ground so that the citizens simply benefit and get out of the economic bottleneck.

The construction of any of the refineries under proposal since before independence has been delayed despite it being anticipated to be beneficial to the state treasury and reduce the suffering of citizens on the burden of fuel price skyrocketing, which has a strong relationship with daily life of the citizen. The construction of local refineries can also provide asphalt and other materials for road construction and maintenance, which is important at this stage when the country is trying to pave a durable road network. Among other things, the current managing director has failed to implement the attempt to increase production through its subsidiary companies.

One of the most important areas of focus in this aspect is solutions to a budget deficit experienced by the state. No matter how the government is insolvent, the salaries of state employees should have to be paid, despite the oil drilling brought in over a long time. And because of the failure of the current administration to increase production, there is difficulty in paying the salaries of the country’s employees, knowing that oil is the main source of income on which the country depends completely. Now that the managing director has no plans to expand the business of this government’s own corporation, it is high time that he should be relieved and another competent SPLM cadre with a brain must be appointed to rescue the government from this fragile situation.
The author, Deng Joseph Mareng, is a cadre of SPLM and could be reached via dengwallat@gmail.com

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Somali Forces Battle Militants For Hotel In Mogadishu: Police

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Mogadishu (AFP), Nov 28 – Somalia’s security forces exchanged gunfire with militants holed up in a hotel in Mogadishu on Monday after Al-Shabaab stormed the popular venue near the presidential palace and laid siege overnight.

Sporadic gunfire and explosions could still be heard after dawn around the Villa Rose, a hotel in a secure central part of Mogadishu frequented by lawmakers and public officials.

Police said late Sunday that government forces were seeking to “eliminate” a number of armed militants inside the Villa Rose after attacking the hotel in a hail of bullets and explosions.

National police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said many civilians and officials had been rescued, but did not offer further details.

Witnesses described two massive explosions followed by gunfire that sent people fleeing the scene in Bondhere district. The hotel is just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the “swift” security response to the attack in a statement late Sunday.

On its website the Villa Rose describes the hotel as the “most secure lodging arrangement in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.

– Retaliatory attacks –

Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia’s newly-elected government has pursued a policy of “all-out war” against the Islamists.

The security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US air strikes, have driven Al-Shabaab from central parts of the country in recent months, but the offensive has drawn retribution.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.

At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces could take control from the militants inside.

The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab.

The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.

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Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt: a victim of his own success”

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By Daniel Akech Thiong

Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt joined the SPLA as a secondary school student like many others who heard the call to arms in 1983 to fight for the liberation of South Sudan. He contributed to several fronts during the struggle including the reversal of the SPLA misfortunes in the 1990s in Equatoria, especially at Bunio, and in the Blue Nile in Yabus, Kurmuk, Geizan, Ora, Shali el Fil, Wadega, and Ulu. He was also known for his innovative skills in laying mines and his other major contribution was the training of the new forces at Bonga. He never stopped learning whenever he had an opportunity. He is mostly self-taught. When opportunities for distance learning began to open in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Majak enrolled and obtained his bachelor’s degree. During the negotiation of the peace agreement from 2002-2005, he attended classes in person in London.

Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt is currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the African Leadership Center, King’s College London. He is the former Deputy Chief of the Sudanese Intelligence and South Sudan’s Deputy Defense Minister. He formerly held the role of Senior analyst at the Changing Horizon Institute for Strategic Policy Analysis (CHI-SPA). He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and think tank pieces in media outlets in Africa, the Middle East, and the West, covering various policy spheres. He holds an MSc in Quantitative Finance and a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from SOAS, University of London. He also has an MSc in Security Sector Management from Cranfield University and an MA in War Studies from King’s College London.

Dr. Majak underwent military training in Ethiopia, Israel, and Cuba. These courses turned him into a military intellectual at an early age. Dr. Majak trained some of the best SPLA units and three officers’ cadet shields (5, 6, and 7). His hard work and discipline transformed him from a guerrilla commander into a productive and prolific scholar. His vast experience as a trainer and operational field commander has forged an avid tactical and strategic thinker.

A humane politics

His politics is mostly clean as he does not like to deal under the table. Years ago, a man who had been alleged to have worked against Dr. Majak found himself under the custody of a hostile foreign agency. The man was on a duty in a foreign country doing counterinsurgency duties. The foreign agency caught him and innocently accused him of spying on their country. They took him to a dark place where people rarely survive. Dr. Majak received the news, and he called a colleague of his in a high position (a defense minister) to immediately transfer this person to a military detention center. This was done and thereby saving the life of that person. After this transfer, the two governments were able to negotiate the release (this stage would not have been reached had it not been for the intervention of Dr. Majak). When I heard this story, I asked Dr. Majak why he saved the life of someone whom he knew as working against him. His response was impressive: I won’t know what to tell his children when I meet them in the future knowing that my intervention could have saved their dad’s life.

He also advocates for others. Years ago, Hon. Philip Thon Leek Deng was relieved as the Governor of Jonglei. The office of the President prepared a decree that appointed Engineer Bior Ajang Duot as a national minister in Khartoum. Dr. Majak saw the decree and went to the President and told him a story: Hon. Philip Thon Leek was the only person from Duk and he has been relieved if you give this position to another person from Twic East, our people of Duk will have nobody at the state level and at the national level. This would not be fair. Kiir reversed the order and appointed Hon. Philip Thon to go to Khartoum as a national minister. Dr. Majak, of course, had to plead with his own Twic East Constituency to convince people that his action was in the best interest of Twic East and that he had nothing against Eng. Bior, who would have a technical job at the Ministry of Petroleum.

A bumpy political ride

When I met Dr. Majak D’ Agoot Atem in 2012 in Dallas, Texas, I asked him, over lunch, about the political situation in Juba. There were rumors about his falling out with the President. He told me that the worse that he could do against the President was nothing more than resign from his government. Despite the toxic politics prevalent throughout South Sudan, he cared about the deeply personal relationship between the two of them built over decades of genuine comradeship. During the entire interim period, rumors of coups were commonly circulated, and the name of Dr. Majak had been mentioned a few times. For example, in 2009, Generals Malong and Gregory accused Dr. Majak D’Agoot (also a general) of planning a coup. This turned out to be one of the four false accusations that occurred between 2009 and 2013.

It has been an open secret that General Malong Awan Anei Tong, who had been a close friend of President Salva Kiir, had a beep with Dr. Majak. A part of this beeping had to do with the formation of the SPLA from 1983-1987. The actual formation of the SPLA became completed around 1987. Many familiar names [Pagan Amum, Oyay Deng, Deng Alor, Paul Malong, Bol Madut, etc] you know from the SPLA did not join the SPLA, in the same manner, those of Koriom and Muor-Muor joined: they had their own armed movements and with their own ranks, which all gradually built the coalition that we came to know as the SPLA. When ranks were converted to the SPLA ranking system in 1987, Gen. Malong had already been promoted to a Major, which made him an Alternate Commander. Dr. Majak was still a Captain. The first grievance started in 1991 when Dr. Majak and his entire batch were made commanders. Gen. Paul Malong was still in jail (detained by Commander William Nyuon Bany). This arrest caused Gen. Malong to forfeit his seniority, but he was later promoted to commander with those of Biar Atem Ajang, George Athor Deng Dut, and Pieng Deng Kuol Arop Biong. Gen. Malong had never accepted this guerilla injustice. But he would not have had any issue with Dr. Majak had it not been for other events.

The SPLA was managed at various camps called headquarters (that distrusted each other so badly that you might need to ask for permission to leave your camp to visit another camp). The most important headquarters toward the end of the war were that of the Commander-in-Chief Dr. John Garang and that of his deputy Commander Salva Kiir. Dr. Majak was a rising star and a trusted commander in Kiir’s headquarters alongside those of the late Gen. Dominic Dim. Those of Nhial Deng, Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Oyay Deng, Gen. Bior Ajang, Gen. James Oth, Gen. Kuol Manyang, and others were prominent in Dr. Garang’s camp.

On the administration of the three regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bahr Al Ghazal, the two power centers pushed their own guys into positions of influence. Commander Salva Kiir managed to push Dr. Majak up on the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal. Gen. Paul Malong who was fully back in the operations in the region might have viewed this negatively.

Then while Dr. Majak was in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal, he opposed the slave redemption scheme, a project that Dr. Majak saw as a fraud while Gen. Malong saw it as a beneficial venture [this information is in the SPLA archive]. Dr. Majak’s position was not popular among the ranks, and he lost, but he took advantage of this to pursue his studies in the UK. When the SPLA was reorganized in 2005 into a slim force led by one active Lt. General (Oyay) and 15 active Major Generals, Dr. Majak’s name was not on the active list. After President Salva Kiir took over the leadership of the SPLA and the autonomous Southern regional government, he recalled Dr. Majak and gave him the security docket. Dr. Majak once again became the boss of Gen. Paul Malong. Gen. Malong managed to secure the governorship of Northern Bahr Al Ghazal, which relieved him from this uncomfortable position.

When the war happened in December 2013, Gen. Malong had tremendous power. Dr. Majak was among those accused of the coup. He was locked up along with many others. The situation divided people in Juba. There were those who wanted to harm those who were detained and there were those who worked hard to protect those who are detained. This was the precise point where those from Dr. Majak’s camp began to allegedly claim that some politicians from Greater Bor allied themselves with Gen. Paul Malong and sought to harm Dr. Majak.

There are indications that President Salva Kiir realized that there were different games at play. One was a competition within the Greater Bor Community among competing politicians, which quickly degenerated into a Bor County versus Twic East County online war, which was picked up by live video makers. The other was the SPLA commanders trying to settle scores from the era of the civil war under the darkness of the unfolding chaos. President Kiir chose to take a pause and he secretly began to protect Dr. Majak both in Juba and in Nairobi.

Gen. Paul Malong lost his influence. His space, which was more than just being the Chief of Staff, attracted competitors. One individual who initially emerged as the winner was Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial. Both Hon. Nhial and Dr. Majak had been in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal during the civil war. They also came from two main power centers with Hon. Nhial owes his rise to Dr. John Garang while Dr. Majak owes his rise to President Salva Kiir. It is natural that they could see each other as competitors. It was an open secret that Hon. Kuol Manyang and Hon. Daniel Awet, two prominent members of the SPLM, favor Hon. Nhial. Given his prominent role in Greater Bor Community, this position of Hon. Kuol antagonized Dr. Majak’s camp. When Hon. Kuol came out in 2021 voicing his concerns about the direction of the country, Dr. Majak’s camp distanced itself from his message as a form of retaliation (the message was good, but the medium was viewed with suspicion).

Recent events leading to the dissolution of the Greater Bor Community Association

Considering the preceding anecdotes, Dr. Majak’s camp finally began to view the politicians who wielded control within the Greater Bor Community Association as people for whom reconciliation is impossible. They began to see the Greater Bor Community Association as a hot spot of hostility toward the person of Dr. Majak, with the help of social media, the Twic East Community began to view antagonism toward Dr. Majak (and equally toward Hon. Rebecca de Mabior) from the community lenses. Dr. Majak had to make a political choice: continue to support an association that has allegedly been working to bury him politically alive or join those who have been voicing complaints about this association and called to abandon it.

Future

Dr. Majak had resisted giving up on the idea of the Greater Bor Community Association for many years despite the pressure from his core support base of Twic East County. But if he were to remain a politician, he had to do what politicians do: realize that some constituencies can never vote for you due to a genuine communal grievance or a manufactured communal grievance, and it is okay to invest your energy elsewhere. There are 78 counties in South Sudan. If Dr. Majak ever decides to run for the Presidency of South Sudan or the Governorship of Jonglei State (which he has never ever mentioned), he can invest in counties where the negative campaign against his brand is less severe while leaving those constituencies that do not like him to his rivals. Even if one were to get 100% votes from the three counties of the former Bor District those will not be enough to guarantee one’s future in national politics. Politics is about ideas and not about clans or which community association you belong to. If your ideas are not needed in one place (including in your own village), you are free to market them in different places including outside of your country. If Dr. Majak chooses to just retire from politics today, his achievements would remain lofty.

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Kiir fires, appoints multiple officials in Upper Nile State

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President Salva Kiir - June 22, 2022. Photo credit: PPU
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JUBA.  President Salva Kiir has relieved and replaced several ministers, county commissioners, independence commissioners and an advisor in Upper Nile State.

In a presidential decree read on the national broadcaster – SSBC, President Kiir removed the State Advisor for Economic Affairs, Nyanuer William Nyuon.

He also relieved the Minister of local government and law enforcement, Thon Mun Kerjok and appointed Nyanuer William in his place.

The Minister of Peace Building Tut Simon, the Minister of Trade and Industry Simon Dup Puok Ter, the Minister of Labor, Public Service and Human Resources Development Joseph Mawut Deng, and the Minister of Road and Bridges Monyluak Machar Bilkuei – have all been fired.

The Head-of-state also sacked several independence commissioners in the oil-rich state.

They are the Chairperson Anti-Corruption Commission James Duer Chol, Deputy Chairperson of the Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Commission James Muonyluk Mojok, and the Member of the Human Rights Commission Joseph Lat Kuol.

Meanwhile, he appointed Gatwech Jok Deng as Economic Affairs Adviser to replace Nyanuer William Nyuon.

Jeramiah Deng Akol has been appointed as the new Minister of Peace Building, Simon Ruot Reing as Minister of Trade and Industry, Reath Nyok as Minister of Labor, Public Service, and Human Resources Development, and Thomas Johnson Anye as Minister of Road and Bridges.

Kiir further fired the commissioners; Moses Achuil Guek Deng of Baliet County, Gieth Ador Noor of Akoka County, and Dok Guot Ngor of Renk County.

He appointed Wai Nyuon Wai as Commissioner of Akoka County, Joseph Deng as Commissioner of Baliet County, and Kak Badiite as Commissioner of Renk County

 

 

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