Details have emerged of infighting that led to the unceremonious dismissal of Nairobi Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Allan Pamba seven months after assuming office.
Reports indicate that the Nairobi Hospital board is divided over the sacking of Dr Pamba last week with one group accusing the other faction led by board chairman Irungu Ndirangu of being overbearing.
The board chairman and his deputy Chris Bichage are on the same side and are now battling claims of unfair dismissal of Pamba.
At least five board members out of 11 are said to be planning a full board sitting to review the dismissal.
Amid the developments, it has now emerged that contrary to the board chairman’s claims that Dr Pamba was fired over failure to craft a performance enhancement plan, the CEO was fired for refusing to be a puppet.
In an interview with Sunday Nation, Dr Pamba opened up about lucrative tenders at the institution that influential individuals wanted to control.
Dr Pamba, who has moved to Court to challenge his dismissal, described one of the senior board members as “a helicopter which flies too close to the ground, and all the time.”
He noted that his reluctance to look the other way on attempts to tamper with good governance practices created bad blood between him “and one or two board members” hence his sacking.
One of the tenders at the centre of Pamba’s sacking is the construction of a Ksh1 billion 150-bed-capacity wing funded by the United Nations (UN).
Construction of the Covid-19 treatment facility started on 20 July at the hospital’s old nursing school.
Dr Pamba stated that he followed all right procedures in advertising and awarding the tender only for a board committee to give it to a different company.
“At the Nairobi Hospital, we have the Kenya Hospital Articles of Association which spell out the functions of the board and management, what they can and cannot do,” he said.
“The roles are muddled for selfish reasons by a minority of board members.”
Dr Pamba was appointed as the facility’s substantive CEO effective March 9.
The board that hired him had just been appointed with the previous team having been accused of bad governance.
Dr Pamba says everything was wrong from the first day.
“I found myself being told what to do on operational rather than strategic matters. Committees were making operational decisions, which should not happen under normal circumstances with a non-executive board,” he said.
Dr Pamba, who holds a Master of Science degree in Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from Moi University, gave the example of the board hiring senior managers – Human Resource and Finance director – going against the charter, which states that the CEO has the final say.
“It leaves one feeling just like a rubber-stamping officer. They deliberate, make decisions and then I am told to authorise using my signature, ” he added.
“Under ordinary practice, the board approves a full year budget once. The management is then charged to deliver targets against that budget, including the day-to-day operations of advertising and awarding tenders as per the hospital tender manual.”
Dr Pamba took over from Christopher Abeid who had been appointed as acting CEO following the exit of Gordon Otieno Odundo, whose contract was terminated in April last year.
Odundo’s exit followed a protracted row with the board of directors.
Prior to Dr Pamba’s appointment, he served as Vice President of Global Health at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London.