PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND INVESTMENT

ODM senators battle to chair powerful watchdog committee

Ochillo Ayacko and Sam Ongeri have shown interest and are already lobbying.

In Summary
  • The powerful committee oversights expenditure of billions of shillings of taxpayers' money in the counties.
  • The House has been operating without the committee since the expiry of the term of the previous members in December.
Outgoing CPAIC chairman Moses Kajwang'
Outgoing CPAIC chairman Moses Kajwang'
Image: JACK OWUOR

The stage is set for a fierce battle for the chairmanship and control of a powerful Senate watchdog committee.

Jubilee and Nasa have proposed members to the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) after months of a push and pull over the composition of the panel.

The lawmakers have been scrambling for slots in the nine-member committee over what Minority leader James Orengo termed as a fight for "visibility". 

The powerful committee oversights the expenditure of billions of shillings of taxpayers' money in the counties.

However, the House has been operating without the committee since the expiry of the term of the previous members in December.

Those proposed to the committee include Senators Mithika Linturi (Meru) who was the vice-chairman of the former committee, Hargura Godana (Marsabit) Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Millicent Omanga (nominated).

Others are Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Ledama Ole Kina (Narok), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta).

Although the Senate Standing Orders do not specify who should chair the oversight committee, in the last Parliament, senators agreed that the position should be chaired by a member from the minority side.

Sources have revealed to the Star that ODM senators – Ochillo Ayacko and Ongeri – have shown interest to chair the committee and are already lobbying.

This is the second time Ongeri will be trying his luck to chair the panel after he lost the seat two years ago to outgoing chairman Moses Kajwang' (Homa Bay).

Kajwang’s committee, the third since the inception of the Senate, was the first to table reports on scrutiny of county audit reports. The committee completed 63 reports in December last year and all were adopted by the House.

Former senators Bonny Khalwale (Kakamega) and Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) are previous chairs of the committee.

According to the plan, Kajwang’ has been replaced by his Migori counterpart who will battle it out with Ongeri and Ole Kina.

However, Minority leader James Orengo (Siaya) said as a coalition they will not dictate to CPAIC members on whom to choose as chair.

Orengo was emphatic that they decided to leave to their members the decision to pick those who will constitute the committee.

 “We chose that our Nasa membership comes up with the list of those that will constitute CPAIC. That is what has been tabled. This is informed by former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu's impeachment case, where senators rejected the membership of the select committee,” Orengo said.

 “We chose to go through the members themselves, otherwise any name presented on the floor of the House without members' input will be defeated.” 

The jostling among Nasa affiliate parties, he said, was because every member would want to be in a committee that elevates him or her to the national level.

Many of parliamentary committees depend on their leadership and membership.

“You may have a weak chair but if you have a strong membership, the committee will be strong,” he noted. 

Edited by Henry Makori