Governors fault senators for hate runs, extortion
Governors are accusing senators of using audit reports to not only intimidate and discredit their administrations but also seek political mileage ahead of 2022 General Election.
The county chiefs, through the Council of Governors (CoG), claim that overzealous senators are using the reports generated by the Kenya National Audit Office including a special audit report on the utilisation of the Coronavirus funds allocated to the 47 county governments to extort and run a smear campaigns against them.
The county bosses singled out the Senate committees on Health chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito and County Public and Investment committee (CPAIC) chaired by Migori’s Ochillo Ayacko, which have been looking at the audit reports.
Covid-19 funds audit
Mbito’s team is currently grilling governors on the utilisation of funds to combat Covid-19 pandemic while Ochillo’s panel is interrogating the usage of billions of taxpayers’ money disbursed to the devolved units by the National Treasury.
“We are very concerned that senators using audits report generated by your office as their campaign tools, this is more prevalent in counties where governors are harbouring gubernatorial ambitions,” CoG chairman Martin Wambora says in a letter to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu.
“Some of these senators are discrediting our administrations and sadly using a report on utilisation of Covid-19 funds for a smear campaign, our recent appearance before the committees on Health and County Public Accounts and Investment (CPAIC) have confirmed our fears,” says the letter copied to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
According to the letter, CoG wants Lusaka to rein in the senators if they are to continue to appearing before House committees.
At least 20 Senators have made their intention to dislodge governors currently serving their first terms or succeed those serving their second and final terms.
They are Mithika Lithuri (Meru), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Fred Outa (Kisumu), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), James Orengo (Siaya) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega).
Others are Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Enoch Wambua (Kitui) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru).
On Friday, the political rivalry between Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and his Senator Cherargei played out during the grilling by Health committee on the county’s utilisation of Covid-19 funds as the senator continuously interrupted the proceeding citing various concerns.
Similar interruptions were made as Sang was being questioned over 419 stalled development projects worth Sh1.39 billion which were initiated in the 2018/19 financial year.
Cherargei, who is warming up to square it out with Sang after falling-out over alleged mismanagement of public resources, took on the governor, saying the list of projects he had listed were full of generalities and are not specific projects.
“My own observation is that most of these projects are just names of places in Nandi and only appear on paper, they non-existence.
These are ghost projects and this is how Nandi is losing money,” he said, adding that the auditor could not confirm some of the projects.
“Some of these projects we may not get value for our money, these are projects used to fleece public funds,” he added, encouraging the auditors to undertake physical verification of the projects.
Challenged to visit
But the governor objected accusing his senator of overstretching his ‘gymnastics,” adding that the projects are factual and challenged him to visit them.
“It is not fair for my area senator to make sweeping statements on ghost projects that is not true, the projects are there, we must be fair not to overstretch,” the governor replied.
A similar script was replicated as Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi and Governor James Nyoro went for each other’s neck over questionable spending of Covid-19 funds.
The friends-turned-foes exchanged in unpleasant exchanges during the session where the Senate Health committee put the governor to task to explain overspending, numerous irregularities and illegalities committed by his administration as they fought Covid-19 pandemic.
Session chairman Kina and members alike had rough time controlling the tempos as the two leaders took on each other, nearly disrupting the virtual meeting.
Kiambu retrospective expenditure
Nyoro, who took over from Ferdinard Waititu was at pains to justify to the committee on the use of retrospective procurement for items worth Shs2.9 billion without the existence of approved guidelines.
“The governor should tell this committee why his administration is of spending nearly 80 per cent of the funds disbursed to the devolved unit on staff emoluments with only meagre resources left for development,” Wamatangi charged.
But Nyoro, who had kept studious silence as the senator made his case, hit back, accusing Wamatangi of using the committee session to advance his political agenda instead of listening to his responses to the specific queries raised by the auditor.