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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Anxiety has gripped the banking industry as search for a new governor of the Central Bank of Kenya shapes up ahead of the retirement of Njuguna Ndung’u on March 4 2015 having served his full two terms in office.
Sources from the banking sector now reveal that Uhuru Kenyatta is under intense pressure from professionals and tycoons from Central who are key players in the banking sector to replace Njuguna with somebody from Kikuyu community. They argue, just like the way URP pushed to have Joseph Boinett replace then Inspector General David Kimaiyo, TNA should have their own replace the CBK boss.
Those pushing Uhuru to name a Kikuyu governor claim that majority of those in banking sector and those who own financial institutions like banks and micro finance institutions are from Central Kenya hence, the need for one of their own to protect their interests.
Ndungu’s pending retirement has opened the position for high political lobbying with hopes that an agreeable governor will be picked to steer ahead the banking sector.
The fear now is that due to delay in enacting the new Central Bank of Kenya Bill that would have opened the appointment to a competitive process, Uhuru is expected to handpick the next governor without going through a competitive process, something the elites want to capitalise on.
The position of governor has in the past been held by a person from the same ethnic community as the president. The founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s first governor was Leon Baranski who served between May 1966 to May 1967 before he was replaced by Duncan Ndegwa who served between 1967 and 1982.
When Moi took over he brought on board Philip Ndegwa who served between 1982 and 1987. Ndegwa was a business associate of Moi. Moi who had a soft spot for the Kikuyu did not want to antagonise them. Moi’s fear was that replacing him with an outsider would have led to a hue and cry causing economic sabotage on grounds the community controlled the country’s economy. The country had just experienced a failed military coup on August 2 1982.  Come 1988 January, Moi brought on board Eric Kotut, his own tribesman who served up to 1983 before he was replaced by Micah Cheserem, a Kalenjin, who served until 2001. Cheserem was replaced by Nahashon Nyagah who served for only two years.
When Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2003, Nyagah was kicked out and replaced by Andrew Mulei who served up to March 2007 before passing the button to Ndungu in March 2007.
Going by the above trend, it is likely that Uhuru is likely to appoint Ndung’u’s successor from his Kikuyu bastion. However, this might not go down well with the URP wing of the Jubilee Coalition since they have been lobbying for one of their own  Haron Sirma who is the deputy governor to succeed Ndung’u.
The battle has been tough to the extent that URP loyalists had even plotted to have Njuguna arrested over a pending court case to pave way for Sirma to act and later to be confirmed. Sirma is an economist and has worked at CBK for about 28 years and was appointed deputy governor in 2011.
Financial wheelerdealers and a number of URP strategists had hatched a plot to oust Ndung’u from office after they fixed him in the Sh1billion security tender, a case which has been dragging in court.
The wheeler dealers had plotted that once charged with corruption, he was to vacate his position. The schemers had ensured that his warrant of arrest was made when he was out of the country on official duty.
Had the plan gone as was planned, he was to be arrested at JKIA on the Friday he arrived and driven to police cells until Monday when he was to be arraigned in court. The power brokers knew once charged with abuse of office which is a criminal offence, the law demands that one must vacate public office until the matter is concluded.
With that in mind, the game plan was to have Sirma to take over in an acting capacity. In the Jubilee power sharing deal, the Treasury falls in the docket of William Ruto and CBK falls under Treasury. Had the deal gone as planned, Sirma would be the acting governor today and would easily succeed his boss.
Apart from Sirma, among those mentioned in the race to succeed Ndung’u is Mbui Wagacha, the CBK chairman, Treasury principal secretary, Kamau Thugge and PWC Africa board chairman Phillip Kinisu.
 Trade Mark East Africa country director Chris Kiptoo’s name is being mentioned in passing although majority in URP side favour the deputy governor. Commercial Bank of Africa Group CEO Isaac Awuondo is being fronted by Uhuru advisers lobbying for a face outside Kikuyuland. He enjoys the backing of the Kenyatta family by virtue of managing their banking institution.
Those mentioned for the sake of include Vivienne Apopo, Sheila Mbijiwe formerly of the CBK Monetary Policy Committee, John Ngumi, former CBK deputy governor Edward Sambili and Mwangi Kimenyi of Brookings Institution.
Equity bank boss James Mwangi, Family Bank Titus Muya, Housing Finance of Kenya Bank Frank Ireri, Co-operative Bank managing director Gideon  Muriuki, Jimna Mbaru of Dyer and Blair, Dagoretti  MP Denis Kariuki who is associated with Faida Securities Bank are those pushing for one of their own.
A billioinare, Waweru made his money from selling Safaricom shares. He is said to be eyeing the Jubilee ticket for Nairobi governorship 2017.