Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir is on the spot regarding the extension of a contract to the chief executive of State owned fuel marketer, National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK). Apart from the alleged unilateral extension of Sumayya Hassan-Athmanis contract, Mr Chirchir is also alleged to be undermining his Principal Secretary Engineer Joseph Njoroge.
A consumer lobby, the Consumers Federation of Kenya, (Cofek) has faulted the Cabinet Secretary, saying he had breached the law by â€œunprocedurally and irregularlyâ€ extending Sumayyaâ€™s term for a further three years. Sumayyaâ€™s contract was to expire on April 1 but was extended for an additional three years.
â€œAgainst the wishes of some board members and a cautionary advice from Cofek, Mr Chirchir recently signed and personally handed over a letter extending the contract of NOCK Chief Executive Officer Ms Sumayya Hassan who left the day after, for the US to attend a six-week course.
Sumayya was neither appraised for her performance nor was there a 6-month prior formal request by Ms Sumayya for an extension of her contract as provided in the law,â€ Consumers Federation of Kenya Secretary General Stephen Mutoro told The People by phone. Mutoro has further claimed that Chirchir is side-stepping his Principal Secretary in making crucial decisions by directly giving verbal instructions to junior officers especially on matters touching on NOCK.
â€œIn some cases, some politicians (one of them a Senator) close to Mr Chirchir have been intimidating officers from the Ministry to directly influence their decisions related to fuel tenders,â€ he claimed. But reacting to the claims, Eng Njoroge dismissed Cofekâ€™s claims as unfounded. He said on phone that Sumayyaâ€™s fresh appointment is above board and was in line with laid down laws.
â€œThe Cabinet Secretary acted on the recommendation of the board and hence did not breach any law,â€ said the PS. He insisted that his working relationship with Chirchir was â€œvery good.â€ â€œWe have a very good working relationship with Waziri, (Cabinet Secretary) and so those allegations are not true,â€ he said. Mutoro had earlier alleged that a section of unnamed NOCK directors had recorded formal dissent against the decision but they were allegedly ignored by the Cabinet Secretary.
Chirchir also dismissed the allegations, insisting that he has never usurped the powers of his PS. The Cabinet Secretary said he extended Sumayyaâ€™s contract on recommendation of the board, which he said was satisfied with her performance after she steered the company back to profitability. Appointment â€œEverything was done within the State Corporations Act and above board.
All the noise is coming from some quarters which have had their ways of interfering with the corporation scuttled,â€ said Chirchir. But vowing to fight the matter up to the court, unless Chirchir rescinds Sumayyaâ€™s appointment, Mutoro insisted that the appointment is illegal and would impact negatively on her mandate. â€œWe have nothing against Ms Sumayya but when you are a beneficiary of a skewed and tainted appointment, your first loyalty goes to your benefactors and this compromises your ability to serve Kenyans,â€ Mutoro said.
On allegations of Chirchir interfering with NOCKâ€™s mandate, Mutoro cited an incident where on February 10, Chirchir wrote to Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) managing director Charles Tanui, asking for NOCK to be given an additional 2,500 Metric Tonnes ullage (capacity). The alleged letter provided by Mutoro reads in part: â€œAs you are aware, this Ministry has been looking into ways of empowering National Oil to ensure that it is a market leader in supply, marketing and distribution of petroleum products.
This is, therefore, to ask you to allocate National Oil at least 20 per cent of the total local ullage for AGO and JET-1 (petroleum products) to enable them meet their role as a stabilizer of petroleum product prices. Please also ensure that National Oil is allocated a minimum of 7,500 metric tonnes of PMS. (Premium Motor Spirit).
By copy of this letter, therefore, Pipeline Coordinator is hereby requested to ensure that the above allocations are incorporated on account of National Oil in the next cycle of open tender systemâ€ Subsequently accusing the Cabinet Secretary of interference and high handedness Mutoro posed yesterday; â€œIf it is an open tender system, why would Chirchir direct KPC and the Pipeline Co-ordinator on the volumes of ullage to be allocated to NOCK? Since former Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike lowered allocation of National Oil from 20 percent to 12 percent on the basis of low Nock capacity â€“ why doesnâ€™t Chirchir demonstrate in what way NOCK has since enhanced its capacity to warrant higher allocation?â€
By THE PEOPLE