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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 26 October 2014


Industrialization and Enterprise cabinet secretary Aden Mohammed is a deeply unhappy man.
The quitest cabinet secretary of them all in the Jubilee administration poseses one of the most glittering CV in both the private and public sectors ever seen in Kenya. The man from mandera is one of the foremost members of Kenyan communities with a Somali and Islamic heritage.
He was formerly the Barclays bank managing director in east and West Africa. The Barclays group promoted him to the role of chief administrative officer with responsibilities for ten countries in Africa in 2011-2012, the period in which he made one of the worst decisions of his life-leaving the private sector to join Kenya’s first ever all-technocrat cabinet, the first Jubilee administration council of ministers.
Before Barclays Kenya, Mohammed worked for seven years in London for multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers. He trained in the UK as a Chartered Accountant.
He studied for his MBA at the prestigious Harvard University in the US and has BCom First Class from the University of Nairobi.
However, after a year-and-a-half as Jubilee’s Industrialisation and Enterprise minister, Aden wants out and back into the corporate world’s big leagues. His concern is that the working environment at his ministry is not favourable with political intrigues being at forefront instead of performance and service delivery. To him, continous stay is bound to cost him his career that he has build painstakingly for years. Sources say he has been busy applying for international jobs and has attended a number of interviews. He believes if he was still at Barclays, he would be in charge of a bigger region.
Before he was persuaded to leave Barclays for cabinet, Aden earned a whopping Sh4 million a month, as much as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto combined. As cabinet secretary he earns barely over Sh1 million monthly.
It is unclear what Aden’s expectations were in such an ambitious but as yet unrealistic docket as Industrialisation and Enterprise. Observers say it is precisely the kind of docket that takes time, at least two consecutive terms, to mature. Aden has lived the kind of high-flying life at the top that is lived by top corporate and UN figures with global CVs. 
Aden appears to have travelled the same path as the members of Richard Leakey’s Dream Team bureaucrats that were hired by the then President Daniel arap Moi, on the advice of Charles Njonjo, in the late 1990s to breathe in life into the then bloated and terribly corrupt civil service. But there is one crucial difference between Aden and the likes of Oduor Otieno, a former director of finance and planning at Barclays Bank as the permanent secretary, ministry of Finance and Planning and Mwangazi Mwachofi, the resident representative of the South Africa-based International Finance Corporation, as the financial secretary.
The Dream Team also included Titus Naikuni as the permanent secretary in the ministry of Transport and Communications, Shem Adholla, a lead specialist for rural development in Africa at the World Bank as the permanent secretary in the ministry of Agriculture and Wilfred Mwangi from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre as the Energy permanent secretary.
Like Aden these top performers were fished from the private sector, international finance and development organisations as the Economic Recovery Team, to revive a flagging economy and create donor confidence in a country that was rapidly heading towards banana republic status.
Unlike Aden, none of the Leakey Dream Team took a pay cut in order to join government. Indeed, some of them saw their terms improve hugely.
One of Aden’s biggest headaches and a hot potato he would like to drop straightaway is the reported revival of Pan Paper Webuye, which went down years ago with more than Sh4 billion owed to international and regional lenders, including the IFC, PTA Bank and the East African Development Bank.
Industry analysts are tying recent moves to escalate tariffs to an imminent sale of Pan Paper. Adan was recently reported as confirming that the government was negotiating with potential buyers. Analysts say the deal would involve import protection and make Pan Paper more attractive to buyers.
One of Aden’s nightmares has been that Jubilee is under intense pressure from the influential lenders who loaned billions to PanPaper.
It remains to be seen how creatively Uhuru and Ruto fill the forthcoming vacancy that will be created by Adan’s departure. If the next Industrialisation and Enterprise cabinet secretary can take the PanPaper revival to fruition, it would be a huge boost to Jubilee’s fortunes in the Western region come 2014.
The first Jubilee cabinet was widely criticised as not having enough of a face of Kenya factor and as a slap in the face for western Kenya in the appointment of two apolitical and colourless elite women – Judy Wakhungu at Environment and Rachel Omamo at Defence. Perhaps it is time to drop all non-value-adding appointments to the technocratic cabinet and go for smart appointees who can smoothen the road to 2017.

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