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Squabbles at Kenya Youth Fund

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – The Youth Enterprise Development Fund Board has rejected the reinstatement of Umuro Wario as Chief Executive Officer, fanning the controversy in the management of the multi-billion shillings Fund.

The Board on Monday termed the action by Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Helen Sambili “ill advised and misinformed.” Chairperson Hellen Tombo said the Board’s decision to fire Mr Wario was undertaken in exercise of its powers and was therefore binding. She said a report by the Inspectorate of State Corporation confirmed accusations of dismal performance, insubordination and misuse of public funds.

“The Board’s position on this matter cannot be changed,” she emphatically stated adding that the Board read a political hand in the Minister’s action.

“As young professionals charged with the responsibility of running the Fund, we must set a precedence that young Kenyans can manage public resources with integrity. We are duty bound not to fall to the trap of acceding to misuse of power and impunity for selfish reason.”

Mr Wario put a spirited internal fight to retain his job and made numerous reports to top government officers. He had accused the Board of ‘getting rid of him’ because he blocked unethical practices in the management of the Fund.

Mrs Sambili reinstated the former CEO last Wednesday and justified that the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission had cleared Mr Wario of any criminal culpability. The Board met the Minister on Sunday to protest the action but Mrs Sambili remained adamant that the action “was a foregone conclusion and not subject to discussion.”

“As matters stand we are left with no option but to lay our actions on the law that govern the Fund,” said Ms Tombo on Monday.

The Board dismissed Mr Wario in May and was in the process of finalising the recruitment of his successor when the reinstatement was done. Mrs Tombo said the reinstatement had put the process in disarray.

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“We did intensive interviews and emerged with four candidates and we were awaiting reference letters from their employers before we send three names for the Minister’s consideration for appointment,” she said.

The Board’s term expires in December. While the Chairman is appointed by the President, members are selected by the Minister.

The Fund was established in 2006 and charged with the responsibility of creating employment for the youth who make 61 percent of the population. It offers loans at favourable rates to youth organisations besides linking their produce with markets. So far the government has committed Sh2.25 billion to the Fund.

The Fund has financed more than 65,000 enterprises and provided jobs to over 250,000 youths.


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