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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 23 November 2014

EXPOSED: ROT AT WAJIR COUNTY

A lobby group has indicated that it will further present damning report and evidence on graft bedeviling Wajir County after Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission launched investigations into corruption allegations. Wajir Anti-Corruption and Justice Forum alleged that even after they raised alarm over misuse of public resources, they are now in possession of documents showing that resources are being mismanaged. Wajir county government has turned corruption into acceptable means of status elevation and enrichment without fear of reputation.
Its chairman Mohammed Abikar claimed that the county government in its Appropriation Bill 2014 inappropriately duplicated budget in the office of the governor and that of finance and planning minister and several other ministries. Last financial year, it is alleged that funds were looted through development budget, this time it is through recurrent budget.
The group said that they will present the new information to the senate and recommend that the leadership of the county be forced to resign and seek fresh mandate from the people since they have lost trust and confidence in the electorate. The lobby’s lawyer has finalised the presentation of a petition to the President through the senate. “We have new damning report on absolute duplication of expenditure in the office of the governor and other ministries. We will present a petition to the senate for appropriate action, which includes suspending the county government,” said Mohammed.
The document seen by Weekly Citizen has it Wajir county government had allocated Sh10 million for drought contingency, Sh80 million for emergency drought, Sh15 million for NGO coordination to the finance office and the same allocated to office of the governor. The list of duplication, non-priority and unnecessary expenditure is long. The lobby group also questioned why the county government was wasting resources in advertisements for tenders that are already predetermined. Abikar claimed that nearly all tenders are manipulated and awarded to cronies and publishing the tenders in the local dailies is just for formality. This government is a typical ‘panda mbegu’ type, he asserted.
For instance, in a letter written to the governor by Arusei and Company Advocates and received by the governor’s office on October 16 2014, the ministry of water and environment sourced for a 50 KVA generator. The acquisition was done on May 21 2014 and a renowned trader was given the acquisition form after quoting a price of Sh1.5 million. The county officials, namely the principal and minister for water refused the quoted price and insisted on a price of Sh3 million. The sum of Sh1.5 million was to be paid upfront before the contract was given.
The supplier refused and the tender was given to a company associated with the PS of water at Sh3 million. The market price of the 50 KVA is Sh1.2 million. This kind of deals is in every tender of the county. The trader was warned not to step in the county government’s office and reported the matter to Wajir Police Station.
“We have analysed the current budget and found that there is intention to swindle public resources. The orphans, widows, minority and the poor have no place in this Wajir county government. We have also written letters to them but they have failed to respond,” Mohammed lamented. Efforts to reach the finance officer Salah Aden, finance principal secretary Farah failed as Farah directed us to contact the procurement officer Mohammed Noor. “Kindly call the procurement manager Mohammed Noor,” read a text message from Farah, the PS finance. According to the lobby group, there are some 16 court cases and injunctions that have been served against the county government over these anomalies.
The lobby group insists that hospital equipment worth millions of shillings were paid several months before the goods were delivered. The anti-graft agency has been pitching tent in the area, investigating Wajir county government over alleged misappropriation of more than Sh1.1 billion. In July 29, the lobby group wrote to EACC, the senate and State House complaining about the rising cases of graft, violations of the constitution and malpractices in the county.
Immediately after EACC top officers left the county, the governor is said to have suffered unknown ailment and left for India where he was to remain for 10 days. According to sources within the knowledge of Wajir political dynamics, the governor is said to be technically out of the next general election. The rebellion against his mode of operation is said to be irreversible. This is if at all he will survive the overwhelming corruption accusations levelled against him. Wajir residents are even more enraged by the public statements of the governor that he will buy everyone because he has the money.
 Ironically, this is a man who did not own a house both in Nairobi and Wajir. He was educated by wellwishers and the church. During last week’s investigation by EACC, the governor and CEC finance allegedly attempted to corrupt the officers but it was an effort in futility. He was told to his face that they cannot accept his invitation for dinner because they were sent to the county not to him. The public read this as his traditional way of doing things to circumvent the law.
This is what he has been doing to all other oversight government agencies like the Controller of Budget, Auditor General’s office, Efficiency Monitoring Unit and others who visit Wajir. The audit report had indicated that the visiting officers are entertained and given allowances despite being given such by their employing agency.
Analysts indicate that the political power house of the three major clans of Degodia, Ajuran and Ogaden have long dumped the governor and may not be in the same party with him. But it is the Wajir senator who has been on the spotlight of his clan members for abdicating his role and allegedly entertaining corruption and mismanagement of the county. Prior to the expose of the governor’s corruption, the senator was overheard complaining that the governor does not pick his calls yet these days it’s the opposite. This is because the senator has been compromised by the governor for his own personal interest including road and other contracts given to him through his proxy companies belonging to relatives.
Wajir lobby group has gone further and written lengthy letters of complaints to Kasneb and Association of Kenya Auditors to strike off Governor Ahmed Abdullahi’s name from the register. Further, the lobby also went ahead and wrote to the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to have magistrate based in Wajir ensure that the law is followed to tame the runaway injustice perpetrated by the county government in all aspects of its operation.
“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Wajir has new eyes and our too long murmur about corruption will burst the cane of worms that have permeated deeply in every facet of the county’s governance,” said Abikar, chair of the lobby group.
“We want the county to offer the residents information because access to information is essential to good governance. But Wajir county will simply not, why? Wajir county is run like a secret society with shoguns of darkness running the show as a syndicate of a cartel,” he said.
The media was neither spared. “It’s disquieting to see media outlets through their reporters and executives jostling for appointments, contracts and advertisements from those they are supposed to watch. We now see a new trend of media partnership with the enemies of the people who tell the harmless and poverty-riddled Kenyans like those in Wajir lies. What their benefactors want them to say or write is what they do. It is dangerous trend for democracy when only a companion of the masses become Public Relation Consultancy for crooked thieves and fraudsters,” said Abikar