A Deadly storm with heavy financial implications to the tax payers is brewing in the multi-billion shillings National Irrigations Board (NIB) that may have long term devastating negative consequences on the country’s fight to secure the perennially elusive national food security.
The fact is that the NIBs was established as a legal entity by the government to play the central role of ensuring that food production in the country is a continuous process throughout the year a departure from heavily over dependent on seasonal rains in both food and cash production in agriculture to achieve the targeted security.
The board room wars that have recently erupted at that board appears to be only the tip of the ice berg of the real colossal monster that is the driving force of what has recently erupted openly in the media and to the public eye.
The crux of the matter is that at the heart of the matter there appears to be a wild and recklessness in top government and state corporations’ officials to loot billions of shillings entrusted into their care to stoke personal arsenals to vie for various political seats at the next general elections – the most targeted being the most lucrative and powerful County Governor.
Right from the corridors of the executive right from state house, the office of the Deputy President have been implicated both directly and indirectly in the vicious battles that have since seen the entire board sacked by cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa including the resignation of state corporation’s General Manager Eng. Dan Barasa.
That was only after a circus show of power between the Board, Wamalwa and Barasa after the board last April suspended Eng. Barasa, his deputy Mary Chomber and most critical the procurements and supplies Boaz Akello to pave wave for investigations into impropriety at the institution.
However long before that, the storm had been reportedly been brewing with the house seen as strongly backing its appointee, Eng. Barasa while the office of the Deputy President was also reportedly fighting to sneak in their own man to head the multi-billion shillings parastatal.
The fact that the water ministry cabinet secretary immediately moved in with orders to the board based on his ministerial powers to revoke the suspension of Eng.Barasa was a clear indication that that state was talking.
But when the same board defied these orders and stuck to their guns this brought Mr. Wamalwa and by extension his boss at state house Uhuru Kenyatta squarely on the spot prompting much more muscle power to be flexed.
These board room wars appear to be nothing but just an extension of the multi-billion shillings irrigation projects that the National Irrigation Board is financing across the country and that is why the inclusion of the procurements and supplies manager is a highly critical matter in the brewing storm.
Indeed Mr Wamalwa disbanded the 13-member board on Friday May 20th for defying his call to reinstate NIB executives suspended by the directors, after yet another equally interesting public circus a few days earlier reinstating Barasa and reconciling him with the board. The sacked team was expected to convene a special sitting within 14 days to investigate any allegations made against the executives.
The fact that despite Mr. Wamalwa having ordered Eng. Barasa’s reinstatement to a defiant board he immediately moved to court to challenge its actions a mater which is still pending in court to date.
The story does not stop there, by the very fact that the former chairman of the board, Sammy Letema, on terming Mr Wamalwa’s move unlawful threatened to seek redress in court saying that the board was sacked for fighting graft and that Mr Wamalwa should be a subject of investigation by the anti-graft agency.
The most interesting quote that was captured by one of the local dailies quoting Dr. Letema says: “The interest that Mr Wamalwa has over the suspended officials is reason enough that the CS is a person of interest in this matter and that is the reason we will refer him to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for investigations.”
Even though he appointed another new acting manager for the state corporation, what has clearly emerged is there was manipulation at a very high level to ensure that the board was sent packing and Eng. Barasa given a soft landing resignation but after influencing the appointment of his favourite manager at NIBs to the acting capacity.
Indeed the minister is on the spot to deal with the monster that he has stumbled into explosion to chart the way forward as well as dealing with the legal battles that have been triggered with these actions amongst other activities.
With the EACC brought in may only point to multi-billion shillings that are yet to be exploited and the numerous scandals that have since erupted of those projects of the NIBs in which the parastatal lost billions of shillings.
Apart from the many smaller ones spread across the counties, the classic example of the scandal is the multi-billion shillings Galana Irrigation Project in which billions of shillings have been pumped over the recent years under the stewardship of Eng. Barasa but has since been declared non-performing.
This squarely brings President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration which has been rocked by mega multi-billion shillings scandals in a wide range of ministries and their projects some of which forced scores of powerful cabinet secretaries out of office – the highest profile being Anne Waiguru’s dramatic exit.
Though it was widely reported that Waiguru’s apparent most powerful stature in President Uhuru’s cabinet was because they were previously very close associates and once into the cabinet maintained that which Waiguru and her associates appear to have exploited.
That scenario is no different from with what is happening at the National Irrigation Board with Eng. Barasa’s close links with state house being through his Wife Alice Ng’ang’a the Member of Parliament for Thika Town constituency which happens to be 28kms away from the President’s home tuff of Gatundu.
Indeed it has since emerged that the billions of shillings being out rightly looted in the government ministries and state corporations are targeting amassing colossal campaign kitties to be splashed at the next general elections, but some of which is already being spewed out openly in political contests through harambee fundraisers.
Indeed just like Waiguru who has declared interest to outs Nairobi City Governor Evans Kidero come 2017, Eng. Barasa has equally declared the same against Busia County Government’s Sospeter Ojaamong where he happens to come from.
The Engineer although a shadowy character when it comes to the real hard balls politics of the Busia County, is considered the most financially able to deal with Ojaamong who has equally made enormous fortunes since becoming the County Governor.
The duo and scores of others interested in that job have from last year been traversing the county splashing their monies all over in highly conspicuous, ruckus, boisterous, drunken and messy functions – most conspicuous being who contributes more than the other in funeral fundraisers.