Never deny corruption if you’re CEO in Kenya
4 months ago, 13 June 23:55
Kenya Pipeline Company MD Joe Sang has a lot to explain and that is making him impatient. When he is not on a media advertising blitz in defence of defective tendering, he’s press conferencing, accusing the anti-corruption agency of slow investigations. Such confidence — to the extent of inviting sleuths to investigate you speedily and pack you off to jail — is naivety. I’d assume the MD knows better than to dare a hobbled Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. But it would seem the level of poise or expected protection is taking the sense out of him.
For speaking too soon, Sang should ask PS Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, who denied pilferage at the National Youth Service too early before she was hauled to court and jail, fainted and is hospitalised. Before she lost her innocence and her world crumbled under the weight of NYS theft, Anne Waiguru was the media queen, defending figures only she understood. When the moniker ‘catwalk woman’ stuck, she pleaded an unknown medical condition and left office on ‘medical advice’. That undisclosed illness mysteriously healed, allowing her to win the Kirinyaga governorship.
Students of communication know that when a government entity is madly in love with publicity, buying space and holding stunt press conferences in its defence, hidden in that smokescreen are sizable maladies of sleaze. It’s Chinua Achebe who famously forewarned that a frog does not leap out water for nothing; there must be trouble there. For its efforts to fend off investigation, the KPC is alleged to have some questionable tendering business worth billions in its stable.
The latest is an alleged tender slice from a Sh150 billion proposed crude oil pipeline from Turkana to Mombasa. Meanwhile, Sang is saying it is a witch-hunt to allege KPC employees grossly inflated the Sh655 million tender for the supply of 60 hydrant pit valves for refuelling aircraft.
Sang told the National Assembly Energy committee last Thursday that the EACC is playing poker. But there is the little matter of the disputed Sh48 billion ‘upgrade’ tender for the Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline too. Sang is in a hurry to hold an opening ceremony, despite the disquiet over suspected loss of billions.
Sang is new, having joined in 2016, but shouts that ‘everything’ since 2013 has been above board. He borrows a politician’s lexicon, waxing lyrical about “malicious, astonishing” claims of Sh95 billion theft.
But it is the Directorate of Criminal Investigations that is on the trail of 27 KPC projects in the last four years that Sang is rebuking. He might reconsider that he is dealing with a new no-nonsense sheriff in town — DCI director George Kinoti. That buddy of President Uhuru Kenyatta can inflict serious damage to the arrogant self-righteous Sangs of this world.
It is difficult to sympathise with Sang because he is in self-destruct mode. He seems quite adept at deconstructing data while defending an extra Sh4.4 billion payment to a contractor as penalty for ‘extension of time’ costs. It’s a fact that in corrupt Kenya, pilferage through contracts is the done deal ...
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