This news website has become privy to the circumstances under which Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Executive Director Eng Godfrey Turyahikayo has continued to be in office even after his contract expired on Monday 8th July.
Turyahikayo, who has headed REA for now 16 years without break, acted tactfully on Friday 5th July when he wrote to his Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary and Board Chairman Robert Kasande informing him that he wasn’t able to be physically present on Monday 8th for the handover ceremony.
The 70-year-old engineer had previously on 3rd July received a letter from Kasande reminding him of the need to promptly exit on Monday 8th without fail. The exact time was to be 2;30pm in the REA Board room.
This is what Turyahikayo stated in his letter copied to all REA board members who had previously declined his contract renewal citing under performance: “Due to unavoidable circumstances, I will not be available to hand over on the appointed date. However, I will be available on Wednesday 10th July 2019 at 2;30pm.” This is actually tomorrow.
One of the ministers who has actively been backing Turyahikayo for contract renewal simply because he comes from his Kigezi region confided that failure to hand over on Monday was a blessing in disguise to them as members of the lobby group that has been trying to get the President weigh in and force the Board to reappoint the old man who they consider unfit on grounds of unsatisfactory performance. The lobby group members had planned to use the Monday 8th cabinet meeting to raise the issue and manipulatively get cabinet to collectively direct that, for continuity, the Board be forced to retain Turyahikayo.
Cabinet sources say there was no time and this never happened prompting one of the lobbyist group members to tell some fellow Ministers it was a matter of time before the President weighs in to reverse the Board decision so that the man from Kanungu cruises to 20 years as head REA which is at the center of rural electrification in this country. But as we previously reported, development partners have lately been unhappy with slow-paced project implementation at Kamwokya-based REA largely because of intrigue and infighting between Turyahikayo and his subordinates. At some point, MPs led by Kefa Kiwanuka tried to intervene but the move flopped when other committee members accused their chairman Kefa for communicating personal views to the President (calling for Turyahikayo retention) while presenting it as a committee position. They petitioned the Speaker demanding a new chairman.
As the Board members waited for the Wednesday handover ceremony, something unexpectedly came into the picture from the IGG Irene Mulyagonja directing the severe sanctioning of Turyahikayo and other officials at REA accused of improper conduct.
Dated 26th June 2019, the IGG’s letter introduces a report highlighting findings of an inquiry the Inspectorate undertook on being petitioned by a whistle blower. Mulyagonja accuses REA officials, including Turyahikayo, for flouting the provisions of the PPDA ACT, Guidelines and regulations in the conduct of business at REA.
She finds that Medard Muganzi is culpable for being entrusted with Shs30m meant for a capacity building workshop but failed to account properly for the money. He instead submitted what IGG says ought to have been rejected by the Turyahikayo-led management because it was “false accountability.” She directs that Muganzi refunds the money within 90 days or else be prosecuted in the Anti-Corruption Court (ACD).
The other officer is Patricia Nakku Kawagga who the IGG wants prosecuted for falsely accounting for Shs33.7m that was advanced to her for the conduct of PVTMA workshops. That she can be spared that prosecution if she refunds the money within 90 days. The duo is directed to deposit the money on the IG Asset Recovery Account 003030088000007.
Mulyagonja also directs Kasande, as the supervising authority, to ensure Turyahikayo personally refunds Shs23m that went into repairing of the REA official vehicle (UG 0230K) which got involved into “a fatal accident while on unofficial duty in Rukungiri district” as the ED’s wife Paula Turyahikayo campaigned for reelection as Rubabo County MP.
The IG interfaced with the MD for Summer Auto Garage Edward Kisembo Mukisa) and mechanic Ahmed Lutwama who confirmed they repaired the “badly damaged” vehicle at Shs23m. The IGG faults Turyahikayo for 16 years leading an entity without a policy guiding pool vehicles management and guard against misuse.
She also faults him for presiding over a management that permits hired contractors to conduct Factory Assessment Tests (FATs) on themselves on the basis of which they are paid for work delivered by them for REA assignments. The proper practice is for REA to facilitate its own staff to go carry out FATs as opposed to contractors, whose work is being verified, being the ones to finance the exercise.
The IGG also indicts Eng Turyahikayo over the curious circumstances under which the inadequately qualified Emily Mbabazi was recruited as Head PDU at REA. The IGG specifically observes that Ms Mbabazi, who her investigators interrogated, lacked the required qualification and working experience at the time she was recruited into the all-important job. She observes the process wasn’t transparent, the advertised job specs weren’t adhered to and holds the ED responsible as head of management. She also directs that the practice of staffing PDU-relevant committees with people lacking relevant skills and experience must stop as this impairs service delivery.
The IGG’s letter is copied to Turyahikayo and Lt. Col Edith Nakalema who heads the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. The Board has since written to Turyahikayo requiring him to respond to the issues in the IGG report and make this part of his hand over report.