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November 14, 2018

Yes Kabogo, you are letting people steal public cash

 

There are various versions of the amount of money the Kiambu government is spending to put up a neurosurgery unit at the Kiambu Hospital. Some MCAs claim the cost is up to Sh100 million but the governor rubbishes this. Governor William Kabogo says the cost of the unit, when it is finally in place, will be half of that amount.

Kabogo’s executive for Health was quoted at a press briefing saying the cost will be Sh6 million.

He said the higher figure (of Sh100 million) did not come from his department and that the purportedly inflated amount must have been the imagination of enemies of that department and, by extension, the county government. So is his boss also trying to tarnish the good name of the Health department?

Some MCAs claim the unit is non-existent. But the governor tells us the unit will cost Sh50 million when completed, so it is safe to assume that it is not only existent but under construction.

But how could Kabogo be putting up a neurosurgery unit whose cost the Health department is unaware of and which the deputy speaker says the assembly did not pass a budget for?

My main concern as a resident of Kiambu is the statement by Kabogo that: “There is no way I will let anyone siphon off public money”. If I did not know better, I would start extolling him as my champion.

However many issues concerning mismanagement or misuse of public funds in Kiambu have been raised, but I am yet to see or hear that the governor has taken action.

Less than a month ago, I, for example, pointed out to the Roads department what I (and many others) considered to be shoddy roadworks by a contractor gravelling a road in Kikuyu.

When nothing was done, I raised the matter in the public domain through this newspaper column, essentially saying that the inferior road construction was a way of siphoning off public funds, as the contractor would be paid his full dues despite the poor works.

Governor Kabogo, this was embezzlement of public funds because an officer or officers from your county government must have passed the road and authorised payment.

This is just one of the myriad complaints raised by politicians (Kabogo is dismissive of his opponents), the media and the people of Kiambu on how public funds are spent by the county government.

The grievances, however, appear to have escaped the ears of the governor as nothing has been done to address them. Maybe Kabogo is taking firm action to ensure public funds are not misused elsewhere, but certainly nothing is happening where I come from.

When the political class at the ward level are asked about it, the standard answer is that, ‘what the people have now is better that what they had before’, which can be interpreted to mean that they also know that money has been siphoned off, but care less.

Rumour has it that MCAs are behind some of these contracts and are part of the gravy train.

But maybe the reason why Kabogo does not know there is misuse of public funds in Kiambu is because Kenyans, as prominent lawyer PLO Lumumba is apt to say, are not angry enough to fight corruption. If they were, residents of the part of Kiambu that the road in question was being made would not have allowed the poor roadworks to proceed.

To the advantage of Kabogo and his officers, nobody raised an upright finger and those who expressed discontent did so in the comfort of anonymity.

More intriguing is the grave silence maintained by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu, an apparent 2017 governor candidate in Kiambu. During the campaigns for the by-election to fill the shoes of former MP George Muchai and immediately after he won, Waititu robustly pointed out the failings of the Kiambu government and its governor. He promised to drastically alter the status quo once he became governor in 2017.

For the last many months, however, Waititu’s public appearance has been confined to prayer rallies across the country. Maybe as Kabogo once said, he (Kabogo) might not be re-elected in 2017, but he knows who will not be elected.

 

 Njonjo Kihuria is a freelance journalist. [email protected]

 

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