Scared of Omtatah, new NHIF CEO Peter Kamunyo seeks audience with Raila Odinga

Caption: Anne Waiguru and Raila Odinga after their meeting this afternoon.

The recently appointed National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) CEO Dr. Peter Kamunyo is a worried man who spends the better part of the day trying to get ODM Party leader and chief sanitizer Raila Odinga’s attention.

This is after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court to overturn his appointment arguing that it flouted the law.

In Court papers filed on April 9, Omtatah argues that the board flouted recruitment laws and handed the CS for health imaginary powers to handpick one candidate.

“The Board abandoned a responsive recruitment process which commenced in the July 2019, and resulted in names of the top three  successful candidates being presented to the Cabinet Secretary for appointment, although this was not necessary because the CS’s powers to appoint the CEO were extinguished vide amendments made to the NHIF Act by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No. 18 of 2014,” argues Omtatah.

The corrupt NHIF board led by Ms Hannah Muriithi, announced Kamunyo as the CEO in April, after restarting recruitment process in February alleging that they had failed to get a suitable candidate in the first recruitment exercise.

This, ‘failed to get a suitable candidate in the first recruitment exercise’, has been a great excuse by the Kikuyu elites to put their own in prominent positions. See the case of Auditor General and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) appointments.

Sources tell that Dr Kamunyo has been desperate to get to Raila Odinga so that he can retain his seat.

However, according to our years of study, no one looks for Raila Odinga these days if they are ‘clean’.

Dr Peter Kamunyo was appointed by the CS Health contrary to the NHIF Act which was amended by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No. 18 of 2014 to remove the power of the Health Minister to appoint the CEO.

Activist Okiya Omtatah in action: He has been on the forefront for fighting to protect the constitution. His recent wins in court include the overturning of the illegal directive to create Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and the declaration by the appellate court that the Standard Gauge Railways contract between Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) and China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is illegal

NHIF Scandals

Though the tenure of Dr Peter Kamunyo Gathege began on April 14, 2020, one thing most people don’t know about NHIF is that since December 2018, the board led by Ms Hannah Waitherero Muriithi has been running the show, the acting CEO Nicodemus Odongo has been just a puppet, to shield the national health insurer from further scrutiny since suspended CEO Geoffrey Mwangi left the scene.

Geoffrey Mwangi who was suspended together with his Finance director a Mr Wilbert Kurgat, have been out in the cold for more than a year without their case gaining any traction in the courts.

Some argue that their cases were politically instigated.

“Geoffrey was removed because he was sharing the loot with the wrong guy. I heard that all the big political families are given kitu kidogo (referring to the Kenyan word for a bribe), but Mwangi’s allegiance was with the second in command”, stated a source.

Some sources say that Geoffrey Mwangi who had funded the UhuRuto campaigns using money looted from the state corporation became a DP Ruto guy afterwards, perhaps knowing that 2022 general elections a new leader would be elected, who at that time seemed to be Ruto.

Enter Hannah Muriithi in April 2018, a lawyer by profession and a good one at that. She seemed like one who came from nowhere to head the board of the NHIF. Her appointment was confirmed by former Health CS Sicily Kariuki.

However, what most people didn’t know is that Hannah is related to the powerful Interior PS Karanja Kibicho. She is married to Kibicho’s brother a Mr Muriithi Kibicho.

Moving on and looking at the relationship, the chips are now falling into place. Going by our source’s revelations that the former NHIF CEO Mwangi was eating with people other than those who matter, it is clear now what role Ms Muriithi plays.

Hannah Waitherero Muriithi, NHIF Board Chair appointed by then Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki in April 2018

According to sources, she came in and initiated a coup, a change of guard. Money was now in the hands of the ‘people that matter’.

Over the course of her leadership, NHIF board has been meeting more often than is required by the law; the Mwongozo Act on state corporations requires that Board meet only once a quarter. Ms Hannah Muriirhi met with her board even thrice per week.

This meant that the board led by her drew a lot of sitting allowances and other benefits.

No wonder, a few months after her appointment, she was able to purchase some assets and open foreign bank accounts to stash her newfound money according to sources.

Hannah Muriithi’s power is so enormous that the CEO is nothing, the new cartel had learnt from the betrayal of the house of Mumbi by Geoffrey Mwangi, and so wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes. Nicodemus Odongo was picked quickly, made to act, blinding the media and those that shout Kikuyu privilege, after all ‘we have appointed a Luo’. This was all to hide the going on.

When the media wanted to inquire about the corruption allegations anonymous tips that they received, they knew correctly who to call. Most often directed their questions to Hannah Muriithi, but they met the same answer, ‘talk to the CEO’.

It is whispered that ost of the time, Nicodemus Odongo was in the dark about those things that the media were inquiring about.

The former CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and Kurgat were removed from office after DCI investigations revealed massive looting at the state corporation. The exercise had included raids into the houses of senior NHIF management including the now 8-months-old-in-office, board chair Hannah Muriithi.

Sources say that detectives that went to her house were recalled immediately and her house was never ransacked.

Who called it off?

Anyways, Geoffrey Mwangi and Wilbert Kurgat were arraigned in court towards the end of November 2018 and later released on bail.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi released them on Sh1 million bond each and a surety of similar amount. The magistrate also gave them an option of Sh500,000 cash bail.

NHIF CEO Geoffrey Mwangi. Mr Mwangi and his Finance Director Wilbert Kurgat were suspended (now fired) over claims of graft at the insurance agency amounting to more than Sh1 billion. They were arraigned in court in Nov 2018 and released on Sh1 million bail each.

Looting went on

It is said that one of the first things that Hannah Muriithi also did when she became boss, was to hire a private law firm MMC Africa to look at contracts with hospitals afresh. She used Sh500 million for this exercise where it is believed she pocketed over Sh40 million.

Internal staff at the legal department lamented their sidelining.

“It would’ve been cheaper to use internal legal department staff to look at the contracts afresh, but the madam saw it fit to use external means, which raises eyebrows”, said one

It raises eyebrows indeed. And their suspicion is not unfounded, as details emerged that Ms Muriithi led board was asking hospitals to part with something so as to have their contracts renewed. Some hospitals which were owed by NHIF had to go to the media. Reports emerged that most mission hospitals run by the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had not been paid over a billion shillings in reimbursement by NHIF.

Remember what I said at some point in this article, Hannah Muriithi had come in to do a coup.

NHIF has been a cash-cow of many shadowy people. They consist of senior civil servants spread across many levels of government, however, in order to have a successful coup. Hannah had to look at the contracts afresh.

Essentially, what she did was to remove one cartel and replace it with hers and her cronies’.

That was the mission, and the mission took long, with acting CEO Odongo being in an acting position for a year. It seems that the coup is done and now NHIF has returned the mantle to the ‘tribe’.

Nicodemus Odongo, Acting NHIF CEO (he loses his job on 14th April 2020). Mr Odongo should tell Kenyans what it was like to work under corrupt Hannah Muriithi.

The looting goes on

The new management is not fresh and thus it is a game that doesn’t benefit Kenyans.

NHIF management has been accused severally of owning clinics which they use to steal millions, even billions of shillings. They do this through fake claims.

The Members of the National Assembly Health Committee in 2019 accused the management of robbing the poor to serve the rich.  Apart from quickly flying the rich to hospitals abroad, even on some diseases that can be treated locally, the parliamentary committee also found out that NHIF has unofficial contracts with hospitals abroad, who in turn bloat the costs of treatment and the loot is shared by the board.

To give a rough picture of it, in 2019 Nicodemus Odongo tabled documents before parliamentarians, he revealed that the looting goes on in a corporation that collects between 2 -3 billion per month (his figures).

The documents tabled showed Private entities were making a killing from NHIF contributions.

The documents revealed that government and mission hospitals, which are generally accessed by a majority of Kenyans of low income, were receiving less than half of what private hospitals get annually.

For instance, in the 2018/2019 financial year, private hospitals received Sh22 billion from the insurer while government and mission received Sh7 billion and Sh8 billion respectively out of its Sh37.7 billion expenditure.

In the same period, NHIF spent 17.7 billion for specialised treatment which included flying some patients abroad for medical attention. The figure was higher than what it spent on inpatient and outpatient treatments that stood at Sh11.8 billion and Sh8 billion respectively.

NHIF was after this session required to provide a list of all patients it has sponsored for treatment abroad and a breakdown of claims by private hospitals.

Kenyans are in the dark if this ever happened.

Another avenue of scamming the institution has been through worthless seminars,

In October 2019,  documents before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee indicated that the NHIF spent Ksh13.1 million on seminars and conferences. According to former Auditor General Mr Edward Ouko’s report, further expenditure on the seminars and conference includes Sh3.9m recorded as “transfer to provisions”.

The financial report for the year ended June 2018 signed by Mr Ouko questioned Ksh38 million expenditure recorded as ‘board expenses, seminars and conferences’ without supporting evidence.

The NHIF said the amount was imprest issued for board expenses “but was wrongly labelled as transfer to provisions”.

Mr Ouko said the NHIF did not provide any evidence to support the claim.

“Although the management has explained that these are imprest issued for board expenses and wrongly described as transfers to provisions, no evidence was availed (sic) to support this claim,” reads the audit report.

The NHIF further paid Sh4.6 million to Harvard Business School for the training of two of its board members.

The audit report, however, indicates that the NHIF did not provide board approval for the training of the two officers for audit verification as required by law.

The auditor also questioned why the training of the two board members could not be done locally to save taxpayers the millions used abroad as training fees.

NHIF in 2020 announced that it might collapse in case proposals by its board to PUNISH the poor more and deny them healthcare was not implemented immediately. Kenyans scoffed at the idea saying unanimously “let it collapse”.

About the author

Karecha Kamaris

Karecha Kamaris is the space between earth and heaven, the gap between ice and fire, the elementary molecule that justifies unending peace in the sea of turmoil. An 'appetite for adventure over the love of ease'.

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