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State picks National Oil, Kenya Power CEOs days to polls

Posted on 1st Jan 1970 01:00:00 in

Kenya Power CEO Ken Tarus

National Oil has confirmed Ms Mary Jane Mwangi as its Chief Executive Officer to replace Sumayya Hassan-Athmani who was pushed out early last year.

The appointment comes a day after Kenya Power also made a similar appointment. Kenya Power board retained Mr Ken Tarus for the top job.

The two appointments come just days to the Tuesday’s elections. The firms have been running with chief executives in acting capacities.

Mr Tarus, an insider at the firm was plucked from his job as the Chief Finance Officer in January to head the firm in an acting capacity. His appointment is expected to silence murmurs in the company following his appointment that had been resisted by some engineers in the company. National Oil CEO Ms Mary Jane Mwangi

Some top engineers protested the move to have a second non-engineer chief executive rise to the corner office after the exit of Ben Chumo who was picked from the human resources department.

The bulk of employees in Kenya Power are engineers and they always want one of their own to head the firm. The last time an engineer was the chief executive was in the era of Joseph Njoroge, who is now the Energy Principal Secretary.

Chumo was forced to exit the firm after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court to block him from taking up a second term. A judge then issued orders stopping the renewal of Chumo’s tenure after attaining the age of 60. But his counterpart at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen) Albert Mugo was lucky after the government extended his term for one more year. See Also: Ken Tarus confirmed as Kenya Power chief executive

The former National Oil boss Hassan-Athmani was forced to retire at least eight months before the end of her term. Ms Athmani was paid off to retire in a deal negotiated by the ministry. Her term was set to expire in March 2017.

Before she exited, Athmani was fighting several battles at the firm that were made worse by a boardroom war that saw her temporarily suspended in January last year for 27 days.

This saw the appointment of Ms Mwangi, who has been acting at National Oil for more than a year. The National Oil board said the appointment is effective from August 1, 2017. “MaryJane has been the acting CEO Since July 11, 2016. Prior to that, she served in the corporation in the position of General Manager in charge of downstream operations and was instrumental in the growth of the Corporation,” a statement from the firm reads.

It adds that she has over 20 years’ experience in oil and gas across both private and public sector. “MaryJane is expected to drive change, lead and build competitive fully integrated oil and gas company. She will be responsible for identifying and providing strategic direction on new investments, business opportunities and change management,” a statement signed by Mr Sam Gakunga, who is acting chairman of the State owned entity said.

One of her key projects will include the Mobile gas refill concept that is expected to see Kenyans buy gas for as low as Sh50 in what could eliminate the last barrier to access to the product.

If successful, National Oil could pull a major coup in the retail gas market which is not affected by the current price controls on fuel prices that has capped the margins for oil marketers.

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