A serious management crisis has surfaced at Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Services (KUCCPS), due to the management style of the chief executive officer John Muraguri. Muraguri who boasts to have connections in the corridors of power and who is accused of manipulating tender awards and employment malpractices. For starters, KUCCPS is a state cooperation that provides career guidance and selects students to join universities both private and public.
It is also in charge of students joining tertiary colleges.JM as the CEO is popularly known among his peers is the founding CEO of the organization. He has been at the helm since 2013 when it became a parastatal. As a result, the CEO knows who is who at the institution, manipulating board of directors, and both senior and junior officers at KUCCPS. One area JM has perfected his art of manipulation is the award of lucrative tenders running into millions. With roots in Murang’ the home turf of Central province billionaires, the CEO does not want to be left behind in amassing wealth using the state parastatal. One tender that is giving the CEO sleepless nights involves procurement of computer servers which has also divided the board and management down the middle. Members of the placement board are Joe Ager (chairman), Mwendwa Ntararangwi representing Commission for University Education where he is the CEO. Charles Ringera CEO Higher Education Loans Board, Patrick Kingoina principal Coast Institute of Technology representing Kenya Association of Technical Institution, Kipkirui Langata, director-general Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority, Francis Aduol, VC Technical University of Kenya representing Public Universities, Geoffrey Muluvi, VC South Eastern Kenya University for public universities, Mumo Kisai VC Scott University and Margaret Muthwii VC Pan African Christian University who represent private universities. Glory Mutungi also represents KATTI with Antony Muriu for National Treasury and Simon Nabukwesi, PS of Education. Currently, the board has been forced to investigate the award of a tender to one party KONVERGENZ solutions network that enjoys tender monopoly at KUCCPS. Konvergenz is a german word meaning connectivity.
It all started when KUCCPS advertised a tender to procure computer servers. The idea was to introduce the speed with a minimum base of 3.2 as per tender specifications. Surprisingly, KONVERGENZ network solutions owned by Kenyans of Somali origin who have been oiling the CEO hands in the supply documents seen by Weekly Citizen undercover team quoted to supply servers with a capacity of the speed 2.4, which is slow in capacity and was not in tender specifications. Muraguri whose doctorate degree has been challenged in certain quarters went further and instructed the staff to qualify KONVERGENZ. All bidders Weekly Citizen has seen documents show who offered 2.4 servers speed components were disqualified apart from the Somali owned firm. Not spared were firms that offered to supply the 3.2-speed specifications as per tender. KONVERGENZ as CEO instructions delivered the controversial 2.4-speed consignment. Why not those of 3.2 speed raised suspicion and questions. It is then that the procurement and specification committee at KUCCPS decided to probe the matter. At first, the CEO was against giving relevant documents to the committee. After pull and push, Muraguri was forced and upon examination of the committee, it was discovered the tender was irregular illegally awarded and was in violation of the public Procurement Act of 2014. The board thus recommended the CEO, evaluation committee members face disciplinary action. As this was happening, companies that had tendered wrote the directorate of Criminal Investigations headed by George Kinoti and Ethics Anti-corruption Commission of CEO Twalib Mbarak. They cried foul play in tender award.
Weekly Citizen has information, DCI investigators have pitched tend at KUCCPS. For a number of days, the CEO has been fighting investigations even boasting he has links at EACC. Further, he says to enjoy a cordial working relationship with State House. His link at the house of power as he claims is Uhuru Kenyatta’s lawyer Jasper Mbiuki. Mbiuki at one time worked as legislative affairs legal Advisory Secretary in the office of deputy president. He was also a legal secretary to TNA party before it was dissolved to join the Jubilee party ahead of the 2017 general election. The lawyer’s brother, Kennedy Mbiuki, is the founder of a private university Zetech located along Thika Road, Ruiru. It was established in 1999 as a college but has grown in heights and bounds to a private university. Kennedy is an engineer by profession. Zetech fast growth has been experienced during Uhuru’s regime. During the recent 2020/2021 placement by KUCCPS, Zetech was awarded thousands of students in government sponsorship. It got the admission of 1,943 students but the majority of them have questioned the admission criteria claiming they never applied to study at Zetech University which many see as third rate. Did the CEO collude with Zetech management to benefit from government capitalization sponsorship? Zetech directors are funding Ruto ahead of the 2022 race.
But sources in his circles we talked to revealed that Muraguri is not well connected in the corridors of power. The source well-versed with the happenings further claimed, he may just be dropping Uhuru’s name for survival. “If Uhuru has sidelined his deputy William Ruto, who is Muraguri?A bitter powerful face who did not want to be named asked. He even went further to say, Zetech growth has been linked to DP office, not State House and it happened when lawyer Mbiuki was seconded to DP office. Initially, we have information, Mbiuki wanted to be Solicitor General and even lobbied. But upon discovery he was much inclined to Ruto camp, Uhuru decided to pick the level headed Ken Ogeto as Solicitor General to replace Njee Muturi, the man calling shots and presidents Mr. Fix It who was moved to work from State House. Weekly Citizen has information, Muturi who for years served as Uhuru personal assistant was required to be close to the president office than State Law office for hourly consultations and running of the country.“Let the board go ahead a discipline him if found guilty of tendering but keep Uhuru out of the matter,” a source told us upon inquiry. The CEO has been boasting the board cannot discipline him. The CEO, has even been introducing politics in the matter claiming, he has roots in Murang’a and for BBI report to pass, if disciplined it will impact negatively in the region. Aware the Education CS George Magoha was on the KUCCPS board before his appointment as chairman of Kenya National Examination Council, and then current portfolio, the CEO boasts it is him who lobbied Magoha to land the two positions and thus owes his rise to him and cannot take any action on him.Back to the controversial tender, after the rejection of inspection and acceptance committee on grounds it did not meet specifications, the CEO forced them to play ball.
A note on one of the documents by the CEO to committee reads: “Ensure it works”. Afterwards, Muranguri went ahead and authorized payments of Sh13, 980,041, close to Sh14M to KONVERGENZ solutions. The payment was done despite the fact, systems auditor had written to internal auditor Faith Mwasya warning her via Email on irregularities and to make sure that the servers supplied are as per specifications. Mwasya upon consultations with the CEO ignored system audit advice. To further facilitated payment process, the CEO instructed finance man Erick Asande to pay the amount and go ahead. Weekly Citizen has information; Mwasya and Asande are in the CEO kitchen cabinet and are feared by other staff members. Asande and Mwasya using proxies firms also do multimillion supplies at KUCCPS. Also in suspicious tendering is Dennis Rama, the acting ICT manager who is also head of user department. Rama who wants to be confirmed ICT manager is the face of the speed 2.4 component instead of the 3.4 speed one. Rama approved the delivery. Another tender at stake favouring KONVERGENZ in the advanced stage is the supply of telephone systems and equipment. The firm has requested to supply interior process and not going with specifications.This is after KONVERGENZ was awarded a Sh17 million tender to supply telephone system and equipment. The system auditor raised queries on the tender supply as only four components against 12 as by tender were received. The money was paid. Reports indicate KONVERGENZ has given the CEO shares in the firm as his son works at the firm. This is conflict of interest as per procurement state laws.The son oversaw the Sh17 m tender to supply the cellphone centre. The CEO initially wanted to block DCI investigations after they requested documents in tender awards.
The CEO wrote claiming documents were confidential and needed specification. DCI wrote giving specifications for required documents giving a deadline to be submitted. Panicking, the CEO complied. Of late, the CEO has been dispatching a finance manager, John Kimani, to DCI headquarters to control the situation. Surprisingly, the staff at state corporation continues to record statements with DCI with the CEO having sleepless nights.KONVERGENZ network solutions has offices on Fourth Avenue Tower Nairobi, Upper Hill area. It boasts to deliver smart solutions and technologies for customers and team engagement. Reports indicated, with dealings at KUCCPS, it has been undervaluing Kenya Revenue Authority tax payments with fear it is engaged in tax evasion. Abdullahi Abdul Sheikh according to paper is the founder and CEO KONVERGENZ network. Ian Chomba is the marketing executive. Other directors are Asha Abdi Sheikh and Mohammed Abdi Yunis. It also does business with Kenya Power and supplied One-Time Password (OTP) authenticator for use with corporation VPN. Kuccps secretariat apart from Muraguri as CEO has Maxwell Zange (Manager Human Resource and Management), Edna Adala (legal), Nancy Soila (placement), Daina Kibogo (supply chain), Paul Juma (corporate communication), Agnes Wahome (Research) Eunice Mwangi (Administrative officer), Ednah Oyori (Accountant), Eric Sande (Accountant) Christine Mukhongo (Internal Auditor Information systems) Gatumu Peter (placement), and of course Dennis Rama (ICT) with Faith Musya (Internal auditor). Manager supply chain management is Daina Kibogo ..To cover the scam, a letter from state agency giving a green light is under probe.