Little-known Mohamed Shurie became the CEO of the Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) from August 1, 2016. He had previously served his hometown as CEO of Northern Water Service Board.
His appointment to Warma is as mysterious as the manner he has been running the board and management - with our sources maintaining that he runs the Ministry of Water and Irrigation agency like his "personal property".
His appointment letter is said to have been personally picked by House Majority Leader Mr Aden Duale "on the day Public Service boss Joseph Kinyua was burying his mother.
Both Duale and Shurie come from Garissa. In 2013, Mr Shurie contested and lost the gubernatorial position in Garissa County.
Like many other public positions, big money is said to have changed hands - from board members to the Ministry officials to influence the appointment. In one bizarre case, one of the candidates parted with Sh1 million to a proxy of a top Ministry official.
When approached for "payment", 3 Warma board members including a wealthy Nairobi businessman reportedly declined the bribe. The rest pocketed it. He was appointed.
That was the beginning of hell at Warma, say our mulltiple sources drawn from staff, board and elsewhere. Mr Shurie is said to have made life difficult for many staff - who supposedly had a good relationship with his predecessor Eng John Phillip Olum.
First, he demanded two-armed security officers for himself via a letter dated August 1, 2016 addressed to the Administration Police Commandant.
Second, he declined to sign the handing over report from his predecessor. He claimed it was incomplete despite the board Chairman Mr Peter Kiilu and Water Principal Secretary Mr Fred Sigor being present to witness the signing ceremony.
Third, he allocated himself 3 vehicles with 2 drivers including the vehicle that had been assigned to then Finance & Administration Manager (FAM)Mr James Ambuso.
Fourth, Mr Shurie cancelled all staff transfers. The transfers had been approved at the 49th meeting of the Warma board.
Fifth, he went ahead and annulled all previous staff upgrading, promotions and annual salary increments which had been approved on August 2, 2017. As would be expected, the cancellation impacted adversely on the staff morale.
Six, what was to be more interesting - was to demand to be the sole signatory of all the Warma 52 bank accounts. When this was declined, he demanded to be the mandatory signatory on all accounts.
When his FAM Mr Ambuso advised him that the move required board resolution, Mr Shurie accused him of insubordination and directed the Chief Cashier to collect bank signatory changing forms for immediate execution. Which was later done.
Seven, in clear disregard for public service values and principles and the Warma human resource regulations, Mr Shurie unilaterally deployed 9 support staff working with the Warma World Bank project unit without involving the HR Manager.
Having consolidated his power base, Mr Shurie personally transferred a junior staff (driver) - one Shaban Ahmed Golicha from Embu office to be his driver. As per regulations, only the HR manager is supposed to sign such letters based on compelling reasons for transfer.
Eight, as if Mr Shurie was not yet done usurping the HR manager role, he then directed 42 newly recruited staff (less than 2 years before he reported) to visit the Warma head office on HIF Building - supposedly to collect letters terminating their services.
When they came, he cleverly avoided issuing termination letters but verbally directed them to stay away from duty until further notice. He later recalled those related and or fronted by current board members. The rest of staff then sued.
At the Court, he is known to interfere with court cases against him by targeting to 'buy out' lawyers of his accusers. In one case, he has succeeded to do so twice.
Nine, Mr Shurie called an urgent board meeting on August 11, 2016 disguised as an orientation for himself as new CEO - only to spring up a serious surprise agenda - that he "cannot work with FAM Mr James Ambuso" and asked the board to sack him.
The ambushed board felt that it was unprocedural and declined. Frustrated, Mr Shurie changed the door locks of Mr Ambuso's office and deployed an armed AP at his office.
He later churned out about 5 "show cause" letters before interdicting him. On expiry of the interdiction by February 2017, Mr Ambuso's request to be recalled was not responded to.
He went to the Employment and Labour Relations Court and is currently awaiting a hearing date.
When reached for comment by Cofek yesterday, Mr Shurie claimed that he was driving and would call us back upon reaching his office. A text reminder two hours later went unanswered.
On Monday May 28, 2018 "The People Daily", a publication linked to the First Family, curiously reported that Warma was frustrating Solai Dam probe, quoting to Directorate of Criminal Intelligence officers.
It is understood Mr Shurie is doing everything possible to get the owner of the killer Solai Dam (which claimed over 44 lives after it spilled over) in Nakuru County.
Spirited attempts to cover up on the part of Mr Patel has been opposed by sections of Warma staff. As a result, Mr Shurie is said to have hastily transferred the local sub-regional manager Eng Tomkin Odo from Kabarnet to Isiolo office with immediate effect.
Further, allegations have been raised that the Commission on University Education letter of January 18, 2013 under serial number 0882 vide Ref CHE/10/9/1/Vol.143 was a forgery to cover for fake qualifications of Mr Shurie.
Mr Shurie claims to have qualified for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Education in Physics/Mathematics, Lafole College of Education, Somalia. He also claims to hold - what our sources highly doubt - the Bachelor of Science in (BSc) in Geology from Dalhousie University, Canada as well as Executive MBA from Kenyatta University.
Our sources indicate that Mr Shurie can hardly draft a formal letter or speech on his own. He has to rely on some staff and consultants.
Again, the turnover of staff at Warma is too high. "Those of us who remain is because we have no option. We miss our former CEO. Can Cofek please help us", one of the staff pleaded.
Our efforts to reach the Ministry CS Simon Chelogui and PS Joseph Irungu have not been successful. But it is a matter we intend to push to its' end - and many approaches have been lined up for the same.