Governors accuse senators of extortion, threaten motion to dissolve House

But the Senate distances itself from any wrongdoing regarding the crisis facing counties

In Summary

• Governors have asked the EACC and DCI to investigate the “extortionist nature of the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee".

• Oparanya says failure to pass the third generation revenue sharing formula is tantamount to killing devolution.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.
ON THE WARPATH: Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

Governors have accused a Senate watchdog committee of extortion and threatened to initiate a House dissolution motion for the lawmakers' failure to pass a law allowing cash disbursement.

But the Senate distanced itself from any wrongdoing regarding the financial crisis facing the devolved units due to the stalemate on the revenue sharing formula.

The county chiefs, through their Council of Governors, have asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and DCI to investigate the “extortionist nature of the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC).


The committee oversights the usage of billions of taxpayers’ money disbursed to the devolved units by the National Treasury.

The committee chaired by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri has in the past one month been inviting county bosses to appear before members physically to respond to audit queries for financial years 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

However, the CoG is opposed to physical appearance, preferring virtual meetings.

“It is unfortunate that some of the issues being raised by the Senate committee emanate from previous financial years dating back to 2015, which begs the question of where the Senate has been all along,” CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said in a statement sent to newsrooms.

“We hereby categorically state that governors will not bow to the extortionist nature of this County Public Accounts and Investments Senate committee and will only appear virtually until Covid-19 pandemic is over and funds disbursed to county governments,” the Kakamega governor said in his invitation to the EACC and DCI to investigate the extortion claims.

The committee, through Ongeri and Narok Senator Ledama Olekina hit back, saying the county chiefs want to evade accountability.

“We derive our powers from Article (1)(2)(3). We are defending counties and also ensuring they account for public monies they are given,” Ongeri said.


Olekina warned that county chiefs who fail to appear before the panel will have only themselves to blame.

“While the Senate is fighting to have more resources to the counties it’s a shame for the chair of CoG to say that they won’t be appearing before CPAIC to account for funds they have been given," he said.

Oparanya expressed discontent with Senate’s failure to build consensus on the third generation formula. This has consequently delayed the approval of the County Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2020,

The counties have not received their equitable share of revenue three months into financial year 2020-21.

“This has had serious implications in the general operations of county governments and payment of salaries to county staff,” Oparanya said.

According to him, “this is tantamount to killing devolution and similar to what happened in 1964".

The Kakamega governor said the Senate has failed to safeguard the interests of county governments by not passing the third generation formula.

“This has left counties with no resources to effectively discharge their functions especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

A 12-member Senate committee formed to determine how counties share the Sh316.5 billion allocated to them in the 2020-21 national budget is yet to agree on the way forward.

The governors' lobby cautioned that a petition for Senate's dissolution can be initiated by any member of the public through the High Court as provided for in Article 258 of the Constitution.

“It is unfortunate that county governments are unable to even pay the salaries and allowances of health workers who remain in the frontline to save the lives of Kenyans.”

He said that counties will shut down by September 17 if the prevailing situation persists.

“All county government services will not be available,” Oparanya said, noting that all county employees will proceed on leave until an amicable solution is reached.

The governors called on the National Treasury to release their equitable share of revenue without further delay.

They warned the Attorney General's advisory against releasing the funds before parliamentary approval was contrary to the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling.

“Indeed, the Attorney General cannot overrule the Supreme Court finding and must therefore withdraw the advisory,” the Oparanya statement said.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata dismissed as untrue claims that the Senate was dragging its feet to reach revenue sharing formula.

“National Treasury has sufficient legal authority to disburse monies to counties despite the Senate failure to pass County Allocation Revenue Allocation (CARA),” the Murang'a senator told reporters at Parliament Buildings on Thursday.

 “Treasury has authority to disburse up to 50 per cent of last year’s equitable shareable revenue,” he said.

He blamed the Controller of Budget for failing to authorise the disbursement of that percentage pending the passage of the CARA.

 “Under this law, it allows disbursement up to 50 per cent to go the counties pending passage of the CARA. Therefore, the cash crisis in the counties has nothing to do with the Senate,” Kang'ata maintained.


- mwaniki fm

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