Contributor's Opinion

Corruption in recruitment process: A case of South Sudan Schlumberger.


By Morobe Benjamin Lolodo,

Kigali, Rwanda.

South Sudan Unity Oil Fields Reopened to reinforce Sudan and South Sudan economies(photo: file)
South Sudan Unity Oil Fields Reopened to reinforce Sudan and South Sudan economies(photo: file)


April 8th, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — Corruption in Oil Companies in South Sudan is among the worst in the world. Those in powerful positions have developed a kleptocratic system that controls every national and international oil company operating in the country. In 2014, South Sudan was ranked among most corrupt nations in the world, preceded by Somalia, North Korea, and Sudan.

To start with South Sudan Schlumberger, It was on February 25th, 2019 that I received an email from Recruiting & University Relations Manager for Sub Sahara Africa Mr. Roland inviting me for an interview with Schlumberger, a world’s leading provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to oil and gas industry.  It was a great joy to receive an interview invitation after two months of uploading C.V on Schlumberger recruitment website. On March 5th, 2019, I receive a second mail with scheduled session as follows: “Dear Applicant, If you are currently in Juba, following my previous email the plan is to meet as follow:

  • Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 at 9H45
  • Juba University, Hall Number 3, Atlabara Residential Area, P.O. Box 82.

Please come with your I.D and bring with you the followings:

  • A blue pen (calculators not required)
  • Copy of your updated C.V
  • Copy of  your latest diploma
  • Copy of your ID
  • Passport size photo.

Prepare 2 slides maximum in PowerPoint format in a USB key and structure your slides as follow:

  • Slide 1) present yourself, what do we need to know about you, etc.
  • Slide 2) Present a technical project that you did in school, challenges, added values etc.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.”

Wednesday March 6th, 2019, I arrived at the University of Juba before 9:00 am, just 45 minutes to start written interview. At 10:00 am, over 350 applicants entered New Hall 3, a huge number most people were not expecting. The Recruiting & University Relations Manager for Sub Sahara Africa Mr. Roland projected slides containing his work experience, profile of Schlumberger, and how the renowned international oil company recruits people.  There was no doubt this man was an exceptional with wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience. Several Schlumberger staffs including Human Resource Manager (a South Sudanese) and other foreign nationals from African countries including one Chinese presented themselves very well.


Verification of names

The Sub Sahara Africa recruitment Manager Mr. Roland started the process by confirming those who have received email from him. “I know the people I have invited for today interview. They have Master Degrees in Geology, Mining, Petroleum, Geophysics, Petrophysics, Petroleum, Engineering, Science, etc., or Bachelors in Engineering, Geology,   petroleum, industrial, electronics, software engineering, etc. I am very grateful that South Sudan has these brilliant minds. Others even have Masters/Bachelor degrees from developing and developed world”, said Roland in a thrilled and excited voice. The foreign recruiter who was very transparent chased out self-invited and those who claimed to have been given a call by the South Sudan Schlumberger Country Director Mr. Oliver. After the names had been verified, the hall was almost empty with only 53 applicants remaining.

Intervention by Country Director Mr. Oliver

Immediately after the Recruiting & University Relations Manager for Sub Sahara Africa had chased out the applicants who were not eligible, the South Sudanese Country Director Mr. Oliver intervened by pulling aside Mr. Roland (foreigner). After talking for 2 minutes, Roland reversed the whole process by allowing those who didn’t receive email from him to take the seats. Mr. Oliver started nodding his head, a gesture of acceptance or agreement. As if it was not enough, the Human Resource Manager started appraising the presence of some of her relatives by calling out their names. The same tribe Oliver comes from.

Distribution of question booklets

The two separate booklets containing Mechanics/ Basic Maths/electronics and logic questions were distributed to the interviewees. Each booklet takes 50 minutes making total of 1 hour 40 minutes. After taking the examinations; the examination scripts were swaft, each applicant marks another person’s script whom he/she didn’t even know. At this stage the process was still transparent. Thanks to Roland and his team for monitoring this critical stage of the interview. After 10 minutes of marking, the examination scripts were collected back by the recruiters and applicants were told to wait outside while taking refreshments (drinks and snacks).

Announcement of results

This was the stage where corruption started. The exam scripts were not given back to the applicants; only names of nominees were announced. The passing mark was 38%. The first twelve nominees were from one tribe based on the appearance of the names while the three were from other tribes. Philip T. (full name withheld) got angry and threatened to compile a case against South Sudan Schlumberger Country Director in case he is not shown his exam script. I moved nearer to where they were checking his exam script, Philip boiled up when he saw 42% on his script.  The passing mark was 38%. He was calmed down by one of the recruiters that his age was above the required age. Philip asked whether there was age limit on Schlumberger recruitment site, but recruiter declined to answer him. Another applicant was Daniel M. (second name withheld) also scored 42% but he did not make it to Schlumberger due to age factor or other reasons known to them.

On the other hand, one of the interviewees says “I am an Engineer with Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and I teach Mechanics, Mathematics, and physics courses at the University, I am very sure I did score above 38%”.  “If Schlumberger recruiters were fair in the recruitment process, they would have given back the examination scripts and asked those who scored below 38% marks to leave their scripts on the table and match out of the hall”, said one of angry applicants.

There was corruption in recruitment process because those who received mail from the Recruiting & University Relations Manager for Sub Sahara Africa did not pass the examinations, but those who were called for the interview by Country Director Mr. Oliver and ones who were apprised by Human Resource Manager during the interview made it to Schlumberger. Congratulations to them because connection in South Sudan is powerful than academic qualification!

Composition of South Sudan Schlumberger

90% of South Sudan Schlumberger workers come from Madi tribe. This is a tribe where Country Director, Human Resource Manager, and many other junior staff come from. Some of the interviewees leaked out that few names were given to Schlumberger by the South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum in exchange of license for the international company to operate in the oil field as a service company. These names were topped up by the Country Director with people mainly from his area.  

Corruption in other national oil companies

Not only South Sudan Schlumberger which is dominated by one tribe, but other oil companies are corrupted as well. If you happen to visit Dar Petroleum, you will assume that it’s a Dinka cattle camp. Majority of employees come from Warrap and Ruweng State.  You rarely see Equatorians in Dar Petroleum. There are no criterions of recruitment in Dar Petroleum, and for one to land at Dar Petroleum Company you need to have a powerful uncle or father to back you up. Qualification comes last. If you’re not backed up by a powerful politician you will never get to Dar. Commonly known in simple Arabic as “ma yindek dar bitak, don’t come here”. In case you live around Tongpiny area try to visit another national oil company called Sudd Petroleum Operating Company and Nile Drilling, you will find people speaking “Thok Nath” or Nuer language. In GPOC you find two tribes (Dinka and Nuer).

Finally, South Sudan oil companies have become family entities where elites employ their relatives so that they earn a few hundred to thousands of dollars per month. Interviews carried out by foreign recruitment teams without involving South Sudanese nationals are the ones believed to be transparent.  In South Sudan; only natural phenomenon, such as the air to breathe, Sun to warm, and rain cannot be corrupted, otherwise everything that looks like money is corrupted. I know if these elites find way out to corrupt natural phenomenon, they will do so.

God bless South Sudan.

The author now lives in Kigali and can be reached at morbe856@gmail.com

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