Anxiety as top parastatals executives exit en masse

By Patrick Alushula | Published Tue, April 18th 2017 at 08:37, Updated April 18th 2017 at 08:41 GMT +3

For journalists, insurers and the public, the soft-spoken Sammy Makove was always expected to have all the answers for the over Sh500 billion asset-sized insurance industry.

Then in November 2016, Mr Makove, the man who had been the face of Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) for 15 years since its formation in 2007, bowed out.

Like for many organisations, getting a perfect or in deed a better replacement for the exiting boss is always a great deal.

The question on whether to promote from within or bring on a board a totally new boss usually comes up.

From financial sector to energy and aviation industry, changes at the helm are looming, some because of age or contract and others due to performance.
Also facing this critical point are Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Kenya Power, Kenya Airways (KQ), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Oil of Company and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) among others.

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For IRA, Godfrey Kiptum has had to step in as acting chief executive, as the man who had previously supervised the industry as commissioner of insurance in the Finance Ministry since 2002, walked out.

Hailed for developments in the industry such as risk-based supervision, and electronic regulatory system, his exit at a time when National Treasury is pushing for the merging of all financial institutions under one conglomerate leaves Kiptum in uncertainty.

The Cabinet recently approved the state-sponsored Financial Services Authority (FSA) Bill 2016 which will see four financial regulatory bodies merged.
They are IRA, Capital Markets Authority (CMA), RBA and Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra). Only CMA has a permanent boss.

Paul Muthaura, the Chief Executive had to serve in acting capacity for four years (since July 2012) before National Treasury confirmed him in April last year. His fate, alongside that of the IRA, Sasra and RBA bosses who are serving in acting capacity hangs in balance.

John Mwaka has been acting CEO at Sasra since June 2015 following the exit of Carilus Ademba who headed the body since its establishment in 2010.

Pensioners’ money

At RBA, for 16 years since January 2001, Edward Odundo was at the helm. He helped the agency to grow pensioners’ money from Sh50 billion to about Sh1 trillion.

A lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s School of Business, Dr Odundo was replaced by Mr Nzomo Mutuku but in acting capacity. The move by cabinet to pass the FSA bill may as well mean the university don may be the last CEO of the body.

At the Times Towers, where KRA is housed, the clock is fast ticking for Commissioner General John Njiraini.

The board has to decide whether to retire the 1957-born Njiriani this year when he turns 60, or allow him complete his term, which ends March next year. “Once we are shown that he has attained the mandatory retirement age of 60, we will have to sit and make a decision,” Evans Kaikai, a KRA board member told The Financial Standard in mid- February.

Now on his second three-year term, Mr Njiraini has been at the helm of the tax authority since March 2012. He faces a task of collecting Sh1.7 trillion in taxes to fuel the 207-18 Sh2.62 trillion budget.

Asset fund

At NSSF, Dr Antony Omerikwa, the acting Managing Trustee of the Sh153 billion asset fund that has ran from a scandal after another has been in acting capacity since April 2015.

September 25, 2016 was the last day for potential bosses to send in their applications. Up to now, the fund, which has a history of unceremonious exit of bosses before full term, is yet to find a new head.

In the energy sector, ERC, Kenya Power and Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) among other bodies are also looking for new bosses. “Following the retirement of the immediate former Managing Director and CEO, the board of Kenya Power is seeking to recruit an exceptional and visionary leader.....,” Kenya Power said in an advert last week.

Retirement age

This happens at a time when Ben Chumo, who had turned 60, left in January leaving the organisation in the hands of Kenneth Tarus, then in charge of finance.

Last year, the Industrial Court set the mandatory retirement age for civil servants at 60, a move that caused shock-waves across parastatals.

At ERC, Engineer Joe Ng’ang’a unceremoniously quit his position after six years as Director General, eight months before his contract expired.

The body is now in the hands of Robert Oimeke as full replacement is sought.

KenGen, the major power producer in Kenya, is scouting for another CEO. Albert Mugo, the current boss is expected to hand over in August this year, in what could cut his one-year extension of term to eight months.

He has been at the helm since January 2014 and is set to hit retirement age this year.

The same case of age is at Rural Electrification Autho rity where an activist has moved to court to force its CEO Ng’ang’a Munyu out.

Other State energy firms with acting chief executives include Collins Juma (Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board), MaryJane Mwangi (National Oil Corporation of Kenya) and Charles Nguyai of Kenya Petroleum Refineries.

In the aviation industry, Mbuvi Ngunze of loss-making Kenya Airways was set to leave last March. However, uncertainty looms over when he will exit, after Chairman Michael Joseph said the Harvard University graduate will stay on as part of his turnaround plans.