NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – Did the nation fall for an April Fool’s Day prank when the media reported a new acting Managing Trustee had been appointed at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)? Alternatively, is there a leadership vacuum at the giant national pension scheme?
Those were the questions Parliament’s Public Investments Committee was trying to find answers to, when it met Acting Labour CS Raychelle Omamo.
With benefits of millions of retired and active workers worth billions of shillings at stake at the statutory body, Omamo who is barely a week old in the docket delivered a potential bombshell when she dismissed media reports Dr Anthony Omerikwa had been appointed to head the institution.
Members present in the committee jointly shouted ‘April Fools’, when Committee Vice-Chairman Kimani Ichung’wah asked the CS to explain after he admitted watching the announcement of Omerikwa as the acting NSSF boss on prime time news at a local station.
“As I was trying to Google; I just found a report done by the media on April 1 naming someone as the Managing Trustee. If it was April Fools (prank), it’s upon the CS to tell us whether it was a concoction by the media or there was an (undue) attempt to appoint an acting Managing Trustee,” Ichung’wah said in what is turning not to be a laughing matter.
But Omamo – who is acting in that docket after the substantive minister Kazungu Kambi stepped aside after being mentioned in a corruption dossier President Uhuru Kenyatta handed to Parliament – insisted no one has been appointed to the position.
She said her hands were tied in as far as making changes at the fund, because the NSSF Board of Trustee was not properly constituted after some former trustees moved to courts to challenge their removal and were reinstated. The government however appealed the matter but the case is still pending.
“We have been trying to consult internally to see how best to deal with the matter and ensure that public funds are secured.”
“At present consultations are ongoing as to how best to appoint an acting trustee because the NSSF Act does envisage the appointment of an acting managing trustee but does not say who to appoint. Our primary concern as is the concern of everybody here, is what do we do when those who can appoint the MT are emasculated by a court order?”
PS Ali Noor Ismail clarified that Dr Omerikwa is the NSSF General Manager in-charge of operations and has acted in the post before when the CEO is on leave or out of the country.
However the committee led by Eldas MP Adan Keynan was puzzled as to who is running the show at the social security funds if the board and the chairman were not actively in office.
Keynan said he was concerned that the successive ministers had taken to run NSSF by ‘remote control.’
“Are you telling this committee that the operations at the NSSF have been suspended, because if the we don’t have a board, a CEO or deputy then who is making the day-to-day decisions to safeguard the taxpayers pensions”
Keynan directed Omamo to appear before the committee on Tuesday together with the current management at NSSF.
The PIC is probing a proposed NSSF Joint Venture for Mavoko Project, Hazina Towers and a parcel of land on Kenyatta Avenue after Central Organisation of Trade Union Secretary General Francis Atwoli wrote to the committee claiming that over Sh130 billion could be lost in the deals.