Senators, governors clash over Sh1.4 public funds loss dossier

Friday, September 27th, 2019 00:00 |
Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/FILE

Trouble is brewing between governors and senators over the latter’s oversight role on the regional governments after county chiefs through the Council of Governors (CoG) expressed their displeasure in the manner in which the legislators are executing the mandate.

The simmering row is reported to have been triggered by the tabling of dossier against Makueni county during the Senate’s Mashinani proceedings in Kitui last week highlighting a possible theft of over Sh1.4 billion of public resources.

The dossier, allegedly from a Makueni resident, was presented to a senate watchdog committee by Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina outlining 12 projects which he claimed were used to siphon public funds, but according to CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya that was biased and unacceptable.

Oparanya, who is also the Kakamega governor said they were perturbed that the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) received and tabled a damning petition but never shared it with Makueni governor Kibutha Kibwana to enable him prepare the responses. 

According to the governors,  it was in bad faith for the Homa Bay Senator Moses Kanjwang-led PAIC, which is mandated to interrogate county audited accounts, to allow ole Kina to table unauthenticated documents without any due consideration of the subject county government. 

“It is unfair to the county government to find documents that are unknown to them at the Senate. The Senate ought to have served the county government with the said documents to allow them prepare and gather enough information on them before the sitting,” Oparanya said in a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday. 

Kibwana was scheduled to appear before the committee during the Kitui sitting to respond to auditor’s queries for the 2017/18 financial years, but skipped without giving any reasons.

Following the dossier, the committee, which also wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate Kibwana, summoned him to appear for questioning at the Makueni county assembly chambers in Wote Town on October 1.

But while defending their own, CoG reads malice and political fights and not a genuine quest for accountability.

 According to the petition, the EACC should investigate the Kalamba Fruit Plant, funded by the county government  at Sh1 billion which allegedly is a white elephant project that allegedly has no value for money and never benefited the people of Makueni since it no longer produces juice.

The Sh220 million Thwake Bridge, Sh40 million water drilling rig, Sh24 million Chullu Valley water project and Sh26 million Ngwitha water project in Kikumbulyu South and Northwards in Kibwezi are some of the projects named. 

But in a rejoinder,  Kibwana described the petition, which he said was from faceless resident of Makueni, as unauthenticated document full of unsubstantiated and fictitious allegations and for the committee to accept it to demean itself. 

“We are dismayed and indeed surprised that as were preparing to make an appearance before the committee to respond to genuine audit queries, the Senate PAIC chair (Kajwang) and his committee were in a conspiracy to come corner us with a strange, unauthenticated and unsubstantiated document,” he said.

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