Storm over Uhuru land commission nominees

National Lands Commission chairman Gershom Otachi. He is the current chair of the Geothermal Development Company. [Standard]
Controversy is swirling around President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominees to the troubled National Lands Commission (NLC).

Senior counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi sparked a storm with his dismissal of the selection process as a "sham" and "remote controlled" by the Executive.

However, those opposed to the shortlisted candidates for the chair and eight members have accused the President’s administration of trying to reward cronies and political rejects while locking out qualified Kenyans.

The president has nominated lawyer Gershom Otachi as the chair of NLC and Tiya Galgalo, Esther Murungi, James Tuitoek, Reginald Okumu, Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji, Kazungu Kambi, Getrude Nduku and Alsiter Murimi Mutugi as members.

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The selection panel that interviewed applicants forwarded a list of two qualified applicants for the position of the chair and 16 for members from which the President Kenyatta nominated the nine whose names he forwarded to Parliament for vetting.

Otachi, who is the current chair of the Geothermal Development Company (GDC), was in the president's legal team during his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He is also a partner in the law firm of Ogeto Otachi and Co. Advocates.

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The other partner is Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto.

Former MPs Galgalo and Murugi had only been shortlisted for the chair's post but have been nominated as members. 

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On Twitter, Ahmednassir alleged interference in the just-concluded recruitment by the selection panel led by Priscilla Nyokabi of Gender and Equality Commission.

System's issue

An unsuccessful applicant cited the decision by the former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiraini to withdraw his candidature even though he was among 11 people shortlisted for interviews as a pointer to the intrigues.

Njiraini had been shortlisted for the chair's position.

Nyokabi defended the final list, saying the panel is allowed by law to set up guidelines and procedures for conducting interviews and shortlisting applicants.

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On protests that Galgalo and Murugi had not been shortlisted for member, she argued that the instruction, according to the advert, was very clear that the team was shortlisting for both the chair and members.

“We were looking at regional, gender and skills balance,” Nyokabi said yesterday.

The University of Nairobi political analyst Herman Manyora termed the flaws cited in the recruitment exercise as a system's issue.

He argued that the old mentality and bureaucracy is still alive despite there being a new constitutional dispensation.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi announced that the House was already getting down to work.

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If the National Assembly approves the names, they will be forwarded to the president, who, within seven days will appoint them through a Gazette notice.

The selection panel received 117 applications for chair's position and 940 for members.

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President Uhuru KenyattaNLC nomineesAhmednassir AbdullahiGDCGershom Otachi