Parliament has vowed to review the reappointment of the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Njuguna Ndung’u.
The lawmakers said the appointment was “unconstitutional” to the extent that it was not advertised as envisaged in the new Constitution.
Finance assistant minister Oburu Odinga had a hard time convincing MPs that the appointments followed the CBK Act and that they had not violated any law.
Dr Odinga maintained that the appointment was legal and that the office of the governor was not a constitutional office. He said it was the prerogative of the President to appoint a governor under the CBK Act.
“The governor, deputy governor or directors shall be appointed by the President and shall hold office for four years and shall be eligible for reappointment,” the assistant minister said quoting the CBK Act.
“The law provides for the reappointment of the governor unless the appointing authority is not satisfied with the performance.”
Dr Odinga backed Prof Ndung’u’s reappointment saying it was bound to push forward the country’s development agenda.
But the MPs were angry that the assistant minister was not being truthful. They said the CBK Board of Directors had not in itself met for “over a year”, yet it is that board that’s supposed to monitor and review the governor’s performance.
“If the board has not met, who did the review?” posed Mr Charles Kilonzo (Yatta, ODM-K).
The assistant minister conceded that the board had not met for a long time, but said the government was likely to constitute a new board by the end of the week.
“The Board members have not met for some months but I cannot say for how long. I have not brought some minutes, but it cannot be one year. I am ready to table minutes,” said the assistant minister.
He concurred with Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central, CCU) that the deputy governor Hezron Nyangito has been on medical leave for the past 11 months.
He said the government was already working on retiring Dr Nyangito based on medical grounds and have him replaced. The process, the assistant minister told the House, was already underway.
Ms Millie Odhiambo (nominated, ODM), who is also the vice chair of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, said the process of the governor’s reappointment was wrong and thus ought to be rescinded.
She said that as a public officer, Prof Ndung’u’s reappointment had to be subjected to competitive recruitment aimed at “affording adequate and equal opportunities”.
"Even if new laws have not been made, don’t you think the Constitution is enough to compel that all public jobs are advertised. I have no doubt that the governor is qualified, but don’t you think it is good practice to afford equal opportunity,” Ms Martha Karua (Gichugu, Narc Kenya) said.
Mr Martin Ogindo (Rangwe, ODM) added that the long absence of a board of directors could have some remote links to the printing tender of bank notes awarded to De La Rue. But the assistant minister denied this and added that talks were in progress in government circles for the acquisition of De La Rue.
Another MP, Pollyns Ochieng (Nyakach, ODM) questioned Prof Ndung’u’s reform record. But as the assistant minister cited the mobile banking innovations, the MP retorted that the milestones of Safaricom should not be unduly credited to the governor of the CBK.
While Ms Odhiambo termed the reappointment, in the context of the new Constitution, as “null and void”, Dr Odinga insisted that that was the business of the judges and the courts.
“Unless, there’s some interpretation, we shall not break the law as it exists now,” said the assistant minister.
Ms Karua and Ms Odhiambo then read the Sixth Schedule that directs that all laws shall be read together with the Constitution and necessary adaptations and deletions made for the law to conform with the Constitution. But the assistant minister remained adamant.
He added that if the committee decides to call the Treasury and the minister to question them about the reappointment, then he’d be ready to “answer all questions”.
The matter comes at a time when a similar controversy on some constitutional appointments is pending before the courts. The hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday.