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NSSF now gets new chief executive after five years

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Mr Anthony Omerikwa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Labour Secretary Ukur Yatani on Friday appointed Anthony Omerikwa as managing trustee of NSSF for three years.
  • Dr Omerikwa has been acting as NSSF chief executive for 56 months, way beyond the average CEO’s term of three years and in breach of the State rule that demands temporary occupation of executive positions for a maximum of six months.
  • His appointment followed delays in submitting his name to the minister amid divisions in the NSSF board with some directors calling for a repeat of the job search after attempts to nominate a candidate who emerged outside the top three nominees in the interviews failed.

The government has appointed a substantive CEO at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), ending an intriguing five-year search for the head of the Sh224 billion State-backed pension scheme.

Labour Secretary Ukur Yatani on Friday appointed Anthony Omerikwa as managing trustee of NSSF for three years.

Dr Omerikwa has been acting as NSSF chief executive for 56 months, way beyond the average CEO’s term of three years and in breach of the State rule that demands temporary occupation of executive positions for a maximum of six months.

His appointment followed delays in submitting his name to the minister amid divisions in the NSSF board with some directors calling for a repeat of the job search after attempts to nominate a candidate who emerged outside the top three nominees in the interviews failed.

“The Cabinet Secretary appoints…Anthony Omerikwa to be the managing trustee of the National Social Security Fund for a period of three years with effect from 21st November, 2019, “Mr Yatani said through a special gazette notice.

His appointment came amid threats by Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli, who sits on the NSSF board, to sue to compel the hiring of the managing trustee.

Reports emerged of pressure to influence the appointment, triggering a stand-off that delayed forwarding of the name of the successful candidate to the minister.

Dr Omerikwa was ranked number one in the interviews that followed the April 26 job search notice. He had served in an acting capacity since 2015, when the last substantive managing trustee, Richard Langat, was forced out in a cloud of controversy.

Number two in the interviews was David Nyakundi Bonyi, a lawyer who previously served as CEO of the Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority of Uganda while former Kenya Power Pension Fund CEO Henry Kyanda was third.

The pension scheme had struggled to fill the position since September 2016 when it first advertised for the job.

Last year, the Auditor-General raised the alarm that more than three quarters of top managers at the NSSF, including the chief executive, were acting.

The audit office said that 13 of the 17 top managers had been acting for years, shining the spotlight on the board of the fund.

Human resource best practice demands that acting heads serve for at most six months during which time the appointing body should roll out a competitive recruitment process.

NSSF, which has for years witnessed a high CEO turnover, has seen calm in the corner office over the last five years.

The fund had 10 chief executives in the seven years to 2015, underlining the office as one of the most volatile in corporate Kenya. The bulk of the exits were tied to graft, which dogged the NSSF for years.

The funds’ financial performance has also improved in recent years with assets increasing from Sh165 billion in 2015 to Sh224 billion in the year ended June 2018.

It paid a seven percent interest on retirement savings for the year ended June 2018 and 2017, up from six percent in June 2016 and three percent in 2015.