The government yesterday suspended eight senior managers at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) implicated with maize and subsidy fertiliser malpractices in various depots across the country.
The managers were suspended one day after the board managing director Newton Terer resigned from his position after the government completed a forensic audit at the institution which it initiated about three months ago.
Agriculture principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe, chairing a board crisis meeting yesterday at the NCPB headquarters –Industrial Area, confirmed that the ministry recently commissioned and directed forensics audits to ascertain and validate procedures that have been used to procure maize and manage subsidy fertiliser.
“These audits have revealed laxity and operational negligence at the top management level of NCPB. As a board we have today received and accepted the resignation letter from the former MD Terer.
Following the magnitude of malpractices of maize transactions, we have launched investigations to dig deep into the matter. Terer will equally be summoned to appear before the board to respond to a number of issues,” said Lesiyampe.
“Today I have suspended three regional managers at Lake Western, North Rift and South Rift regions and five managers at Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Bungoma, Kisumu and Nakuru depots.
Further, all 59 staff working in five critical silos where malpractices were reported will be investigated and those found culpable will be dealt with as per human resource management procedures,” he said.
The board, Lesiyampe said, will start the recruitment process of a new managing director and managers will be appointed on acting capacities by placing advertisements in the local media.
The board appointed Albin Sang, a senior deputy director of livestock production, as the acting MD with immediate effect to help the board restructure for the next three months.
Lesiyampe said the audit report revealed that NCPB has in the recent past experienced serious management and operational challenges which have revealed chronic and systemic weaknesses.
For example, in the recent past there has been incidences of diversion of subsidy fertiliser which has been entrusted to NCPB. In Bungoma county, 750 bags were diverted to other sources while in other areas middlemen have been removing fertiliser from its Government labelled bags and selling it in other bags.
Cases, he said, have been reported of delays in delivery to farmers, inefficient distribution, and penetration by cartels in collusion with some staff.
“This has compromised the intended goal for which this facility was set up by the government,” he said.
Further, procurement of maize by the board has been characterised by malpractices such as poor identification of genuine farmers and deliveries by merchants and brokers whose source of grain was not authenticated.
The suspended managers, Lesiyampe explained, have been procuring maize from the merchants without identifying their location and source of maize.