Shocking revelations are emerging about how governors from Kenya’s 47 counties are battling a ruthless blackmail syndicate perpetuated by members of the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee that has been summoning governors to Nairobi under the guise of answering audit queries.
The sordid details have been exposed following private interviews by governors who have so far received summons. Several governors revealed how members of the committee thrive on harassing and intimidating them, going as far as demanding, off the records, that each of the 12 members of the committee be paid Ksh2.5 million as fees required to ‘overlook’ audit queries.
This is the minimum to be paid per financial year, and given that governors have so far served for three financial years, it totals to a staggering Ksh90 million per governor! In a typical county Ksh 90m can finance the county level 5 hospitals to full capacity in terms of medicine purchase, to offset county inherited debts, cater for public participation activities for 5 years, revamp and build new ECDs, build roads, revamp markets and provide clean water for county residents.
Failure or refusal by governors has been met with threats of production of false but incriminating reports that would paint the governors negatively.
In an election year, governors accused of fraud, embezzlement or financial impropriety will find it very difficult to campaign for re-election.
The current members of the Committee are Prof. John Lonyagapuo, Martha Wangari, Hassan Omar, Amos Wako, Kennedy Okongo Mongare, Boni Khalwale, Paul Kimani Wamatangi, George Khaniri, Stephen Ole Ntutu, Henry Ndiema among others.
It is not clear if Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro is aware of these serious allegations that put the integrity of the entire senate on the line. It is also not clear if Committee Chairman, Kisumu Senator Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o is partaking to this criminal extortion ring.
Nyong’o is known for his strict compliance to the law and leadership integrity. Numerous senators have declared interest to run as governors in the forthcoming general elections and analysts see this as a desire to control massive resources that are devolved to counties each year by the national treasury.
This apparent extortion on governors is a manifestation of illegal fundraising by these ambitious senators ahead of the 2017 campaign period.
Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya has declared that governors would not attend committee sittings until these allegations of institutionalized blackmail are addressed by the speaker. A visibly upset Governor Munya stopped short of calling for the disbanded of the committee.
The Senate Public Accounts Committee oversees how the 47 counties use allocated funds and audit their investments. It is also specifically mandated with examining reports by the Auditor General on the annual account of county governments and any other reports from the concerning county funds and investments.
Voters will be outraged by this damning exposé given that counties are starved of funds and the senate is abusing its powers to undermine instead of representing the interests of the counties and their governments.