Peter Arina was the General Manager Consumer business and by that fact, the deputy CEO at Safaricom. But Peter’s departure from Safaricom surprised both friends and foes.
Peter is a publicity-shy former Unilever Kenya executive who joined Safaricom some 11 years ago. He grew through the ranks to become the second most powerful man in Safaricom. Friends remember him as an easy going but strict disciplinarian who would never let you under perform as he strived to have the company wrestle the market from what is now called Airtel Kenya.
One senior Safaricom manager who crossed the path of Peter Arina is Nancy Matimu. Nancy was the senior manager Business Service at Safaricom in 2011. Under her watch, wrong things happened with the PRSP systems and Safaricom suffered. Peter Arina forced Nancy out of the company “like a dog,” according to colleagues.
She was unceremoniously removed from office and forced to look for a job a fresh. She didn’t stay in the cold for long as Bharti Airtel came calling and got her on board. But Nancy never got over that experienced. So did her friends who were still at Safaricom like Sylvia Mulinge.
So when Nancy came back to Safaricom in 2013, she vowed to revenge on her former boss. She teamed up with Sylvia Mulinge and Rita Okuthe. They carefully crafted their story and when the time was ripe, they presented their story to Vodafone executives in United Kingdom where they agreed to force the changes through the current CEO and party-boy, Bob Collymore.
Most Safaricom staff would tell you how close Bob Collymore is with Rita Okuthe. They will also tell you how Sylvia Mulinge has her way with him. Two other executives who Sylvia just uses to drive her point home and cement her story are also senior enough, Nicholas Mulila and Nzioka Waita.
When time came for Peter to go, it needed only a shallowly presented narrative by Nicholas Mulila (Head of Risk) to have the company embarrass Peter and chase him out of the premises like a dog. The actions of Safaricom have not gone down well with most senior managers and just won Peter Arina the sympathy he needed.
Peter is 51-years old. He is basically in his retirement mood. Leaving the company while earning millions and over Ksh 35 million in bonuses every year means that Safaricom needed to treat him better. Whatever happened, Peter has influence in the company and he recruited, mentored and trained many who still owe it to him. His former colleagues believe that he should have been normally retired with a simple ceremony and all that instead of being removed from the office like a conman with security supervising his every move.
There are further rumours from the company that Sylvia Mulinge, Nzioka Muita and Nicholas Mulila are only after Bob Collymore succession. They are said to have teamed up to determine who succeed the current CEO. In their path lay Peter Arina and Betty Mwangi (Head of M-Pesa). Betty was meant to be sacked with Peter but the gang have not succeeded as she is both related to the Safaricom chairman and former President Mwai Kibaki.
In social circles, Peter was known to be down earth. He used to drink in a simple pubs in Uhuru estate or Kaloleni and Kimathi estates. Few of his drinking friends knew how senior Peter was. Having been raised by the SM Otieno family as an adopted son, Peter knew much about modesty.
Some of the managers who have left with Peter Arina (General Manager – Consumer Business) are Paulin Warui (Director of Customer Service), Morris Maina (Head of Internet and Content), Timothi Nderi (Head of Contact Service) and Peter Arkut Simatwa (Senior Engineer).
Others who were sacked over earlier investigations are Judy Muhoro, Raymond Osimbo (suspended over a domestic issue), Eva, Eric Korir (Branch Manager – Kisii) and Simon Barasa (Team Leader – Kisii).