Personnel and other stakeholders of Cameroon’s lone refining company, SONARA, are easily credited with succeeding over the years in shifting every precise gear with the utmost care and with a view to sustaining the sterling industrial qualities with which the enterprise is noted. But when the gears shifted last week, it happened administratively. Managerial power changed hands.
A new BOD chairperson replaced Mr. John Ebong Ngole, who had held the position for 25 years. She is Mrs. Ndoh Bertha née Bakata. Named to that office by the head of state, her appointment was endorsed by the SONARA Board of Directors, following an extraordinary BOD meeting at the premises of the refinery.
Similarly, the task of keeping the command, nay, pivotal gear working for optimum productivity shifted from Ibrahim Talba Malla to Jean Paul Simo Njonou whom the BOD, still following the head of state’s decision, endorsed as the New General Manager of SONARA. Njonou is aged 54. Talba Malla, who was named on January 4, to be Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in Charge of Public Contracts will now fully settle down in that office, knowing relief that he and Ebong Ngole have handed over the baton of continuity to competent hands.
Following an hour long conclave, the Minister of Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, officially installed the new officials into their new offices.
Mrs. Ndoh Bertha, who hails from Meme Division, Southwest Region, is a Journalism and Mass Communication expert. She served for several years as a Lecturer at the Journalism and Mass Communication, Department, JMC, University of Buea, UB. But since 2003, she has been serving as a Special Advisers to Cameroon’s Prime Minister and Head of Government.
Her appointment on Monday, January 14, as SONARA Board Chair was just one more feather that was stuck on her scarf of performance.
She takes over an office that was so far exclusively occupied by men ever since the refinery was commissioned some 38 years ago in 1981. Njonou who hails from the West Region steps onto the managerial cockpit as only the fourth indigenous General Manager to manage SONARA since its birth.
The late Bernard Eding was the very first Cameroonian General Manager. Charles Metouck replaced him and reigned until 2013. The outgoing GM, Ibrahim Talba Malla took over on February 15, 2013, and on January 4, after five years of service, he was elevated to the rank of a Minister with office at the Presidency of the Republic.
The Minister of Water and Energy, especially, congratulated the outgoing Board Chair, John Ebong Ngole and the outgoing GM, Talba Malla, for a job well done.
He said the successful completion of the first phase of the modernization and expansion of SONARA, in November 2018, was proof of the enormous work the duo of John Ebong Ngole and Talba Malla did to ensure that SONARA maintains its enviable reputaion as a going concern, a success story.
He especially, noted that even when there were difficulties, Talba Malla did his best to improve on the customer base of SONARA, successfully steering the execution of the first phase of the Expansion and Modernization project to completion with utmost satisfaction. This, he said, led to the expansion of SONARA’s refining capacity from 2.5 million tons per year to 3.5 million.
“For these great achievements, I do extend to you the hearty congratulations of the Government for the appreciable and loyal services you rendered to the nation,” the Minister noted.
To the new GM and the Board Chair, Minister Eloundou said he was in no doubt confident of their abilities to deliver, notwithstanding the fact that the task ahead of them is enormous.
He, nonetheless, gave some guidelines of what was expected of them.
He, especially, called on the new GM, Njonou, to be proactive, most especially in assuring the proper maintenance of the new production units of the Refinery, ensure transparency of management and also assure fluid collaboration between his office and the BOD.
Above all, the new GM shall have to ensure that work on the second and final phase of the expansion and modernization project is done and completed with same success as that of the first phase.
Before being appointed GM, Njonou, who holds a Diploma in Public Administration was said to have already put in 32 years of service in the public service. He was, before his date of commissioning, Head of the Department of Economic and Financial Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. He was also a Board Member at SONARA, representing the Presidency.
After the commissioning, Messrs. Ndoh Bertha and Njonou both thanked God and the head of state for their appointments. Hear Ndoh:
“It was with joy and excitement that I received the news of my appointment as the new Board Chair of SONARA. I want to give God all the thanks and also the head of state, for the confidence he has accorded to me to this prestigious establishment.”
She pledged her readiness to carry on in her office, in accordance with prescribed texts. “Everybody is looking up to us and we are not going to fail.”
The New GM on his part said: “I want to thank God for the grace He has given me up till this day. I want to thank the head of state for the confidence he has placed on me to become the new General Manager of SONARA.”
SONARA workers were all beaming with happiness when their new GM was presented to them.
“We are today very happy. When we got the news of the appointment of our former GM, we were kind of scared. But today, at least, the anxiety has calmed down. We are happy that we have seen our new General Manager,” Mrs. Shu Ntamag Rachel, a staff at the general Affairs Department said.