Transport CS James Macharia was having lunch with clients one afternoon in 2013 at Fairview Hotel in Nairobi when that all-important phone call came from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Why I ignored President Uhuru's call - CS Macharia
Life changing opportunity
At the time, Macharia was the Managing Director of NIC Bank. He revealed in a recent interview that when he saw the phone ring, he didn’t recognise the number and ignored it because he was having guests.
Right after the phone stopped ringing, a message popped up saying “Can you please pick the call when it comes next.”
The message was constructed politely but the undertone communicated a certain authority behind it. It was more of an instruction than a request.
“When it came, it was a president’s secretary on the line and put through the president,” Macharia recalled.
“I had to leave the lunch because the president asked where are you? I said I was at Fairview and he said it was very near State House,” he added.
State House in 10 Mins
Macharia was given 10 minutes to be at State House and was interviewed by President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. After the conversation, he was asked if he would like to serve the county.
“Going to State House, you know, you're put in a room. I found three other people there, one of them I knew (Amina Mohammed) the other ones I didn't know; CS Rotich and CS Matiang’i. We were just there looking at each other. Nobody was saying anything because they didn't know why they were there in the first place,” he narrated.
“When I was called I found the president in a certain room with the deputy president and then he asked would you like to serve? Of course, you can't say no, it's a special order to be asked in the first place,” he added.
Taking the job meant leaving the banking industry and taking a 80% salary cut which would of course affect his family.
Send your CV
A week to the announcement that he had been nominated to Cabinet, Macharia had received a call asking him to send his CV.
The sharp accountant who was the valedictorian in both his O Levels and A Levels quickly dusted his CV and hoped for the best.
“A week before I was called…I was in Tanzania on duty because the bank I was working for had a subsidiary in Tanzania and somebody called me and said ‘we have been asked to get some good CVs and I think you have a good CV can you forward to us your CV?
“I quickly updated it on my laptop and sent this gentleman the CV but I didn't think about it again,” he recalled.
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