NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Businessman Richard Ngatia is now the unopposed Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President after all his challengers withdrew from the race and backed his bid.
In an announcement made at the chamber headquarters in Nairobi and presided over by outgoing Chamber President Kiprono Kittony, James Mureu and Abdulwalli Sharrif said they have unanimously agreed to support Ngatia.
Effectively, Ngatia is the new boss for the national business lobby group.
Kittony said he will officially hand over office to the new president on June 8 this year.
“The three gentlemen have in their wisdom met, deliberated and agreed the two will be stepping down and support one of their own that is Ngatia. This is a landmark decision that clearly manifests the democratic ideals of the chamber.” Kittony said.
They spoke during a joint briefing at chamber head offices in Nairobi in a historic event marked by a rare show of unity within the chamber.
“I am humbled by this memorable gesture when we have come together all of us in support of the business community and Kenya at large. After a deep reflection we agreed to work together because anything can change for better,” Ngatia said.
Ngatia becomes the first national chamber boss to assume office unopposed.
“We want to emulate the leadership of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta in the spirit of handshake with Raila Odinga and also the words of Deputy President William Ruto that the chamber should be led by businesspeople who understands the needs of our members. The chamber is a big house with a big room to accommodate all of us,” Ngatia added.
Besides Mureu and Shariff, other two contenders; Stephen Mbugua and Laban Onditi had earlier stepped down in Ngatia’s favour while Gor Semelang’o withdrew from the race citing personal reasons.
“I am appealing to my supporters that this decision is in the best interest of the chamber. This morning we decided to prove to naysayers that things can be done differently. We are a family and what we measured is our passion.
Good ideas lead to better ideas. Ngatia has the energy and passion. We want to show leadership.” Mureu said.
Ngatia mounted a spirited campaign including eventful launch of his manifesto in which he promised to set up a special chamber fund to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to remain afloat.
“I decided to reach out to my brothers so that we can work together. I want to say it is time to emulate leaders who served before us. Sharrif has numerous contacts both within and outside the country while Mureu has vast experience and institutional memory.”
On his part, Shariff committed to support their new boss for the benefit of the businesspeople.
“After deep consultations with my brothers, I am stepping down for the unity of this chamber and I wish Mr Ngatia well. We will work with you fully.” Shariff said.
Kittony said a transition committee has already been set up to ensure the necessary handing over is done right from the county levels.
So far, 44 out of the 47 counties have conducted their elections.
Three people for the vice presidents positions and ten regional directors will be elected on June 8, this year.
For the last three years, Ngatia served as the chairman of KNCCI Nairobi Chapter.