Early this month, the board of the Nairobi Hospital sacked its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Pamba.
Dr Allan Pamba has only served a probationary period of six months, and for a man whose work ethics is superb, it came as a shock to many who knew him both professionally and personally.
He took over from Christopher Abeid who was CEO in an acting capacity since April last year when Gordon Odundo was fired.
In the drama that is the top seat at Kenya’s premier hospital, there’s a ‘deep state’ that stays on even as CEOs are hounded out of office unceremoniously.
The board is that deep state.
The board of Nairobi Hospital is led by Dr Irungu Ndirangu who is said to exercise a dictatorial control over the hospital.
The firing of Dr Pamba and other before him has often raised eyebrows, but it is after the latest fiasco that Kenyans are beginning to learn what really ails the hospital.
Being a top hospital that treats who is who in Kenya and the region, Nairobi Hospital procurement office is one hot soup.
It is this office that has served to stir strife between the executives in the senior management.
But nothing had prepared the latest CEO that the boxing ring that the boardroom would turn into after the hospital bagged the tender to construct a 150 bed wing specifically for United Nations (UN) staff.
The Sh1 billion tender, for the construction of a Covid-19 management centre was competitively advertised and awarded. However, trouble began in the manner in which it was awarded.
Dr Pamba stated that he followed all right procedures in advertising and awarding the tender only for a board committee to give it to a different company.
“At the Nairobi Hospital, we have the Kenya Hospital Articles of Association which spell out the functions of the board and management, what they can and cannot do,” he told the Sunday Nation in an interview.
The board acted in an overbearing manner and that was not the first time.
Dr Pamba says everything was wrong from the first day.
“I found myself being told what to do on operational rather than strategic matters. Committees were making operational decisions, which should not happen under normal circumstances with a non-executive board,” he said.
Dr Pamba, who holds a Master of Science degree in Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from Moi University, gave the example of the board hiring senior managers – Human Resource and Finance director – going against the charter, which states that the CEO has the final say.
“It leaves one feeling just like a rubber-stamping officer. They deliberate, make decisions and then I am told to authorise using my signature, ” he added.
The board was divided after his sacking and sources report that at least five board members out of 11 are said to be planning a full board sitting to review the dismissal.
Nairobi Hospital’s board chair Dr Irungu and his deputy Chris Bichage are on the same side and are now battling claims of unfair dismissal of Pamba.
The side of the board that didn’t like Dr Pamba went on to give the contract to a Quest Civil Engineering Limited.
The firm has some ‘ties’ with some members of the board and thus the ‘win’. Sources claim that R.M Kariuki who is listed in the company’s registration document as a secretary is related to the board chair Dr Irungu.
But one other name on Quest Civil Engineering registration document raises eyebrows; that of Yuehua Bai, a director and shareholder of 500 ordinary shares.
Yuehua Bai is an illegal immigrant from Kenya who control the construction firm 100 per cent. At the time of winning the tender, he was in Kenya illegally; a thing the management and of the United Nations (UN) didn’t know.
Bai’s two-year work permit, expired on June 3rd, 2020. He has therefore been working in Kenya illegaly, and this includes, signing of the contract in July 2020 and Building the Covid-19 Hospital, for the last four months, without a Work Permit.
“Up to now, he is yet to renew his work permit, and the questions are, did the UN and Nairobi Hospital award the Covid-19 hospital tender without doing due diligence? Was the tender awarded illegally, as the 100% Shareholder, Bai, is working in Kenya illegally?”, lamented a source.
The complainant continued, “We are now in October, after 4 months of construction, and 5 months, after Work Permit expired. Truly, a very serious fault, right there!”.
Note that, as of October 7th 2020, Bai had not even applied for a renewal of his work permit. How can one be in Kenya illegally, and get awarded to Construct a Ksh 1 Billion Covid Hospital funded by the United Nations/Nairobi Hospital? How?
Being in the country illegally means, he does not owe anyone, any responsibility. Foreigners without permits are not allowed to work in Kenya according to the law.
Dr. Pamba and the Technical Team, had awarded the more experienced China Wu Yi Company to undertake the job, but the board followed the ‘kick-back’ route.
Quest Civil signed the Contract in July 2020 for a hospital that was to be built in 30 days; but up to now, close to 100 days, and the inexperienced Quest is still asking for time to be extended.