When Peter Opondo joined Standard Group on 1st February this year, he was touted as the man who would turnaround the company’s broadcast division. But his exit barely five months later was unceremonious, even acrimonious, a stark contrast to his entry that was marked with pompous epithets.
Standard Group’s Strategy and Content Editor Peter Opondo was yesterday 16th July 2021 given matching orders in unclear circumstances though insiders point to a fallout with the top management and principal shareholders. Opondo announced his sudden exit through a Whatsapp message to his colleagues, indicating that his contract had been terminated due to “unsatisfactory performance”.
“Some personal news,” he wrote in a Whatsapp message seen by Business Today. “My short stint with Standard Media Group has come to an end today. The company has terminated my contract effective immediately.”
Opondo, who joined standard from Mediamax Networks Ltd, found himself between the rock place of maintaining professional standards and the hard place of entrenched political interests from Standard Group godfathers.
Insiders at the Standard Centre, the company’s head office on Mombasa Road, are linking Opondo’s troubles to his connections with Deputy President Dr William Ruto. He and Ruto come along way. At some point, he was the DP’s point man at Mediamax Networks when he held substantial shares in the media company.
It is understood the main shareholders in the struggling media company, who include President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family and Equity Group CEO Dr James Mwangi, forced out the DP and bought off his shares. Mediamax runs People Newspaper, K24 TV among other media outlets including Kameme and Milele FM radio stations.
Since he joined Standard, it is said William Ruto has been getting more airtime on KTN and KTN News, which rubbed the management the wrong way given that Ruto is a political rival to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who incidentally represents the Moi family’s interests in the group as main shareholders.
Being a media veteran, Opondo knew it would not be easy to get away with such an in-house ‘crime’ but hoped to be shielded by professional ethos and the goodwill that brought him on board. Not at Standard Group, which has sacrificed great journalists before at the altar of political expediency.
Mr Opondo – who has worked for Royal Media Services and NTV – noted in his communication while he did not agree with the conclusion the company had come to, he had nonetheless accepted the decision. He had no option, anyway, in a media industry where owners word is law.
“Sometimes we don’t always see things the same way and some things are just meant to be,” he said. “So I wish all of you well as you continue with the transformation journey.”