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Kahiga: Why Sonko sacked me as Finance CEC

Ousted CEC for Finance Pauline Kahiga says Governor Sonko sacked her for her "strictness" in following the law

In Summary

•Kahiga's future started to dim two weeks ago when  a group of MCAs stormed the Finance office at executive wing, City Hall, to forcefully evict her from office.

•This was after it emerged that CEC for Trade Allan Igambi had been allegedly gazetted in December as the acting CEC for Finance.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and former County Executive for Finance Pauline Kahiga during the launch of the biometric system at City Hall on May 22, 2019.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and former County Executive for Finance Pauline Kahiga during the launch of the biometric system at City Hall on May 22, 2019.
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

Ousted Lands and Finance CEC Pauline Kahiga says that her decision to follow the law is what led to her sacking.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko sacked Kahiga alongside Winfred Gathangu on January 30, 2019.

Sonko said he made the changes to revamp services and warned against sabotage. 

But in an interview with the Star, Kahiga said she adhered to the law in every docket she served in Sonko's administration.

"I know I was fired because I refused to approve payments for contractors who were not verified in the pending bills. I know what the law requires and If I appended my signature, I would have committed illegality," she said.

Kahiga's future started to dim two weeks ago when a group of MCAs stormed the Finance office at executive wing, City Hall, to forcefully evict her from office.

This was after it emerged that CEC for Trade Allan Igambi had been allegedly gazetted in December as the acting CEC for Finance.

At the centre of the controversy is Sh1.4 billion, which was released by the National Treasury last month for the county to settle its pending bills.

It was said the drama came after Kahiga refused to pay lawyers and suppliers, whose details were not captured in the pending bills.

However, Elkana Jacob, the communications director in the Office of the Governor, dismissed claims of Kahiga being sacked because of pending bills.

“This is not the first time his excellency is realigning his cabinet or sending county officials home. If he saw it fit to send a few officials home, he had valid reasons to do so," he said, adding that Governor Sonko will not allow any form malice in his administration.

“If she has proof that she was fired because of the pending bills, the relevant bodies are there to investigate."

Prior to her sacking last week on Thursday, Kahiga had written a letter to acting Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango regarding the payment of pending bills by the County Government of Nairobi.

She requested the Treasury to nominate someone to assist in the verification of the pending bills before payments are done.

"The county Treasury intends to immediately commence payment of the eligible pending bills. For purpose of accountability and transparency, we hereby request your institution to nominate a person who will sit with our county treasury team to vet the list of payments against the list verified by the Special Audit of the Office of the Auditor General at Committee Room, City Hall beginning Monday, February 3, 2010," reads the letter.

The letter was copied to Head of Public Service, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury, acting Auditor General, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, Speaker of the County Assembly and the acting County Secretary.

Kahiga told the Star political interference in the payment process due to vested interests was the biggest challenged she encountered and she tried fighting it back and it costed her job.

"The Finance docket has a lot of interest and that is why every time there is a reshuffle, it is usually affected.  There is also pressure from both the legislative and executive side and every side wants their needs put first," she said.

"I know I did my very best in serving the city residents of Nairobi and it shall be well."

The rise and fall of Kahiga

Kahiga was first sworn in as a chief officer of Urban Planning in April 2018.

She rose to power when Governor Sonko suspended County Secretary Peter Kariuki in September 2018. He placed Kahiga in acting capacity as the County Secretary.

Last year in January, Kahiga was nominated by Sonko to head the Devolution department and was vetted by the County Assembly Appointments committee and accepted by the house.

She was later shifted to the Agriculture docket and was dropped as the Acting County Secretary after Leboo Morintat took over.

Kahiga was later moved to the Lands docket and after Charles Kerich was suspended from the Finance Department.

She was gazetted as the CEC for Finance. She served in the two dockets until last week.