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Meet Peter Njuguna, the man killing the hustler dream in Kenya

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Alright. I give up. I lay down my weapons and kick my boots into the floor because this is too much and too bad to be a coincidence. And if I am wrong, unwrong me because my life is a lie, and apparently, my understanding of the word hustler has been wrong all along. 

When President Dr. William Ruto called us hustlers, I thought it was ”us’—the collective majority of Kenyans struggling to make ends meet. Us, those who are hustling. People who are trying to make ends meet by doing this thing and that thing, like trying to do the boda business while keeping chickens and seeing if we can invest with that guy with the pig farm, because that is what hustlers do. 

Whether you voted for him or not, I think we were all in agreement that this was the meaning of the word hustler. After all, there was the other word, and we are definitely not that. However, it seems this was more in my mind than in practice because the people hustling nowadays are not hustlers. They are something else, and that thing is not hustling. It is worse.

And just so we are clear, I don’t mind being called a hustler. I am a hustler. I am here, I am there, and I am doing an honest job, trying to make it out of the hustle. I have plans, I have motivations, and I have words, affirmations, and prayers to back those plans and protect those motivations. I am okay being a hustler because, according to the big man’s message, hustling ends well and we should hustle until it is over. 

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However, recent events have soured me on the whole hustler business. Not because of what I am doing, but because hustling does not seem to pay, or rather, it seems like we are cursed to keep hustling because someone somewhere has decided to feed off the fruits of hustlers in Kenya. It appears that no matter how much we hustle, someone has rigged the game so that they can outhustle the hustler by doing nothing. That is not hustling. That is theft. Stealing. Extortion so that they can suckle on the sweat of the hustler, and we, the real hustler, are left high and dry as they drive off into the sunset.

And guess who is blocking this road? I dare you; I double dare you to guess the person and the name before I say it because once I say it, you will smack your face at not saying it. Say it! Okay, here it goes. The guy is called Peter Njuguna. Google him. He is in the news; of course, he is in the news because anyone with the guts to just sit by and take without lifting a finger seems to be someone big enough and high enough in power to be in the news! And guess what? You likely disregarded the story because others were screaming, crying, and protesting when it was reported, and you did not want that because you were too busy hustling!

I will tell you about mine if you tell me about yours.

Mine is called Peter Njuguna.

Peter Njuguna is the CEO of SASRA. SASRA, for those not in the know, is the four-, um, five-letter word we use to refer to the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority. When I was writing this piece, I asked one of the veteran journalists about SASRA, and his response was that SASRA has become an animal. Like me, he had heard the rumors and had read the Metropolitan SACCO mess, and he was worried that the nastiness and character of Mr. Peter Njuguna had spread across the entire organization. And knowing what we know about fish—rotting from the head and whatnot—that was not a far-flung conclusion.

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Anyway, who is this Peter Njuguna, and why is he rotting the animal? Also, why and how? Well, first things first. Peter Njuguna is the current CEO of SASRA. But before he was the CEO, he was the supervision manager of SASRA. He was the guy in charge of monitoring and evaluating the performance of deposit-taking Saccos so they could not fleece their members. I swear, I am not making this up.

Reports say that Peter Njuguna was also a talker. When he was the supervision manager, he talked about how some of the ‘big’ Saccos were going to see red soon. Red is not a good thing in finance. It means financial death. Why he talked, I will never know. I guess it is the same reason why serial killers, art thieves, and people who operate outside the right path do. 

I think any master criminal feels compelled to sign their work. After all, how else will we see their genius? It is not like they can make a CV of their activities, so they talk or creatively sign their work. Anyway, Peter Njuguna talked. He bragged that he was working with a number of like-minded managers and directors of those Saccos on a side deal. A hustle, if you will. 

We now know what the deal was because, thanks to those corrupt managers and directors working in cohorts with the supervision manager of SASRA, more than 75,000 members of one of the big Saccos in Kenya were denied access to loan facilities and their dividends!

In other words, the CEO of SASRA, the guy charged with protecting members from being eaten by corrupt, criminal SACCO officials, has been collaborating with the criminal elements. The man whose work it was to ensure there were strong guardians preventing the foxes from entering the henhouse literally opened the gate and set the predators to take as much from the nest eggs as they could!

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Under his watch, innocent Kenyans, assured of the stability and correctness of the ‘regulated’ SACCO, invested their money in that SACCO. Those members are now crying salty tears, unable to afford a good handkerchief to wipe away the pain of losing more than 703 million shillings. It is gone, and it cannot be accounted for. Their money is suspended, and their SACCO is also in debt. Yeah, sorry but not sorry!

Well, it can somehow be accounted for when you do the math. This is not the mathematics of the books, because if the mathematics occurred during these schemes, then the mathematics would fail. However, if you take away the mathematics hat and put on your physics hat, you will realize that nothing is ever lost. 

Under this rule, we can fully solve the SACCO mathematics according to Peter Njuguna and his cohorts. All you have to do is sum up the totla from the five-bedroom houses in Keleleshwa and the many parcels of land in prime locations worth millions of shillings Peter Njuguna owns plus the money, accounts, and expenses of the corrupt SACCO officials, and there is the amount looted from the former Kiambu teachers Sacco and others.

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Yeah, we will also use the law of logic, which says nobody loots that much without having done it before and made a couple of tries because of logic and confidence and muscle to do the creative math to make millions disappear only comes with experience!

I just can’t. Not anymore. Not when I know that, despite these clear trails of evidence and talks and whispers and public cries and protests, even the criminal case that was filled with the Director of Criminal Investigations has led to nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. Today, those Sacco members and other silent victims are suffering while the former officials and former supervision manager roam free, richer, and with mathematically creative bank accounts and assets that can only be solved with the help of physics. And a criminal mind!

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And don’t think the government—the one under the whole hustler narrative—will help you. Seriously, this issue was also referred to the ‘boss’ government agency and put to the attention of the Commissioner for Cooperative Development for redress. To this day, the Commissioner has not even issued a public notice to caution Sacco members and put officials on notice. It is as if we are all alone. Nobody can help us. Nobody.

Which brings me to the death of the hustler dream!

Remember what I told you about the pig farming and other side hustles that looked like they were becoming something? Well, you can forget about those plans because if Peter Njuguna could oversee such mess and corruption as the supervision manager, what do you think he is overseeing right now that he is the boss? What schemes and conspiracies can the boss do? What are the limits? Who can stop him?

Well, the reason I know about this guy is because I too was hustling around, and in my hustle, I came across fellow hustlers who also had a dream, and then the cost of living and lack of dynasty money meant that we had to hustle together. It is called being collective. It is cooperation. It is the backbone of this economy. It is the mathematics of multiplication in that 2×2=4 while anything multiplied by 1, meaning me and me along will always be equal to 1.

So, we multiplied and decided to open our own Sacco. Simple. Normal. Hashtag goals, hashtag multiplier effect So we collected our money, and since it was not enough, we decided to obtain an operator license from SASRA so we could bring in even more people to build our equity. 

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Unfortunately, our journey was cut short when we were informed that all prospective SACCOs must give the CEO and his people an envelope of no less than KES 5 million. Yeah, this is money outside the norm. Legal fees to the government. And this was a good offer because some prospective Saccos have been forced to pay something like KES 7 million. Especially those with corporate backing. However, if you are poor and rural and from those counties, you can give a bargain envelope of, like, KES 3.5 million! 

And while you are over there appreciating just how caring and economically-minded these government extortionists can be, I need to say something nasty. I feel I am entitled to say something nasty because I am bitter and angry and sad and vengeful and so tired. These actions by the new boss are what the kids call grooming. It is what paedophiles do to young children so they can desensitize them to their perversions later on. Like crossing their boundaries until the kids can no longer tell the distance. It is a psychological practice where, if you get them young and train them, they will not scream or protest too loudly when you begin abusing them! 

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Yeah, Mr. Peter Njuguna, knowing there are limits to the existing members, is leading an institution to groom any potential SACCOs to their extortion ways. SASRA officials are demanding Saccos applicants pay him lots of money to get anything done or else. From the get-go, they will know that extortion is part of the service, and nobody will cry out loud when they are forced to pay to be ranked or credited because they have been groomed and compromised from the start.

Clever!

So, this is where I give up. How can I hustle if even the hustle game is rigged to be a rat race with no end? It appears the only way to win in the hustle game is if you are already big or well positioned—appointed to help the hustlers. And it appears that nobody is going to help because these extortionists are so clever with their creative mathematics and accounting that they can only be solved using relative physics theories. How can we outfox these corrupt officials in power? How can innocent, simple Kenyans hope to compete against such greed and corruption that the system is rigged to be corrupt from the first step? 

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If the authority charged with protecting the littlest of us is riddled with corrupt, greedy officials who steal from our very mouths, then what are we doing? What can we do under these impossible conditions?

And if another person says the courts will handle it or that this is the hustler economy, I will throw a scream on their faces so loudly because we are also Kenyans. We have grown through collective action, and 1 times 1 is always one. We must multiply to grow!

Somebody tell me once again how a small person like me is meant to advance if all the paths for advancing are blocked. Taxes are high, inflation is over the roof, and the shilling is devalued, making imports for trade impossible. But even in the worst of times, SACCOs were our safe spaces. By coming together, we could do anything. This was the Kenyan spirit. This was the hustle that has built buildings, put food on our tables, and provided the money that took us to school and financed our public transport! 

Our collective action was supposed to lead to something. It provided refuge and support even when the government failed. But if they take these away, we will become beggars in our countries, and those people will win. Somebody, anybody, please make it stop

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