Is Bruce Odhiambo's position linked to his political connections?
By Nzau Musau
| March 13th 2016
That Bruce Odhiambo is still the chairman of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund board, despite adverse mentions in the loss of Sh180 million, has exposed the soft underbelly of “buddy appointments”.
The renowned music producer and father of two is a friend of President Uhuru Kenyatta from their days at St Mary’s School. The former musician was appointed to chair the board in April 2014 after chair Evans Gor Semelang’o fell out with former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru. According to documents tabled by Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs CS Cecily Kariuki to the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC), Odhiambo was at the centre of the Sh180 million scandal.
“On February 17, 2015 the chairman of the YEDF Mr Bruce Odhiambo and the then Acting CEO Catherine Namuye issued instructions notifying them of change of signatories to the YEDF call deposit account” Kariuki told the PIC. “The instructions by the board chair and the Ag. CEO indicated that the board had made the resolution to change the signing instructions. However, the record of the board minutes to this effect has not been availed.”
When he appeared before the parliamentary committee, Odhiambo did not object to giving the instructions which set the stage for the massive rip-off at the fund. The fraud would go unnoticed until October 2015 when a whistleblower, finance manager Benedict Atavachi, confided in PS Peter Mangiti of fraudulent activities at the fund. Mangiti in turn triggered a special board meeting on October 21 which discussed the fraud. Despite unilaterally issuing the decision which installed Namuye as the sole signatory of the fund, Odhiambo was not suspended on November 23 when the board cracked the whip on the fraud. Instead, Odhiambo himself signed suspension letters for both Namuye and Atavachi. His board, which oversees the secretariat, had also not figured out the fraud for more than nine months despite holding a series of meetings.
Odhiambo’s hesitation at calling in the EACC to probe the fraud has also been thrust in the spotlight. Despite requests by Mangiti to invite EACC, Odhiambo did not move. Mangiti eventually made the invitation himself.
On February 29, 2016, Titus Muriithi, the acting Inspector General of State Corporations, advised that Odhiambo and fellow directors of the board “be required to step aside with immediate effect” pending investigations. However, the President’s buddy continues to sit pretty at the helm of the fund.
Parastatal appointments should be open to all ethnicitiesAccording to the constitution of Kenya, all public institutions are supposed to represent the face of Kenya. The same applies to the cabinet.
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