Over the past few weeks, social media platforms have been awash with colourful graphics, slogans and hashtags (like #RadaNiNgatia2022) drumming support for a new big fish in the Nairobi County political pond.
The man in question is none other than Mr Richard Ngatia, the low-laying but affluent president for Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) who recently expressed his interest in the much-coveted gubernatorial seat.
Ngatia, who has for a long time been a close confidant of the Kenyatta family, is reported to have the blessings of the President as well as his enigmatic handshake buddy Raila Odinga, who both absurdly view him as the best candidate for the city’s top job.
Unknown to many, however, is that prior to his announcement, Ngatia played a prominent role in Kenya’s national politics but often kept his dealings out of the limelight.
In fact, around June 2017, thanks to his humongous business empire, he was among a handful of billionaires who contributed to Uhuru’s successful re-election campaign.
But who is the real Ngatia?
Mr Ngatia has a sprawling business empire that stretches beyond the country’s borders and straddles both the medical sector as well as the hospitality Industry.
He is the Managing Director of Megascope Healthcare Limited, a major corporate player in the healthcare industry in Kenya.
Megascope is a key provider of healthcare equipment leasing for county governments.
The company supplies, installs, trains personnel, commissions and maintains healthcare equipment.
To put it into better perspective, Megascope maintains 98 per cent of theatre equipment in 219 operating rooms of 115 government hospitals.
But most notably, in September last year, a report by the Senate revealed that Megascope was at the centre of the Sh63 billion medical kits scandal that conceived like a criminal enterprise.
At the time, Ngatia’s company was said to be among firms that landed lucrative tenders from KEMSA.
From documents tabled in Parliament, Megascope was awarded contracts worth over Sh1 billion.
The scandal triggered national outrage that saw the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) summon many top dogs close to power as it sought to uncover the rot.
Some of the things that stood out, for instance, is how Megascope was awarded a Sh765 million contract by KEMSA for the supply of personal protective equipment.
It also got a tender for the supply of SV300 ventilators at Sh165 million and a Sh35 million deal to supply KN95 mask at Sh700 each.
In the report, the Senate ad hoc committee noted that the scandalous project was conceived like a criminal enterprise shrouded in opaque procurement processes and aimed at selfish commercial interests.
But to those who have keenly followed Ngatia’s life, this did not entirely come as much of a surprise.
It is common knowledge to many insiders that over the last decade, Ngatia has been on the hunt to bag most if not all of the lucrative tenders under the Ministry of Health.
His influence within the corridors of power grew so high that when a new Cabinet Secretary in the name of Mutahi Kagwe took over and tried to ‘clean’ up the rotten corridors of the state department by instigating the transfers of officers at Afya House, he faced heavy opposition even from junior staff.
Kagwe would be seen angrily calling out unnamed people at Afya house for being very corrupt but what many did not understand is that the crooked cartel was led by Mr Ngatia himself.
As we prepare to head to the polls in seven months time, Nairobians are now tasked with conducting a critical and full retrospect of all the candidates involved in the hotly contested battle.
With the consequences of Mike Sonko’s erroneous tenure still fresh in our minds, the question now begs; Who among the various veteran politicians and business people have declared interest in succeeding appointed incumbent Anne Kananu genuinely has the interests of the city at heart?
If the August polls end up becoming the sad case of picking the lesser evil between Westlands legislator Tim Wanyonyi, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Pastorpreneur Margaret Wanjiku, controversial businesswoman Agnes Kagure and the rest of the pigs in the muddy pit, then it is safe to say that shadowy tycoon Richard Ngatia earns an automatic disqualification.
Nairobians deserve better.