A tussle over an Agriculture Training College (ATC) is frustrating Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga’s pet project.
During his first term, Mr Rasanga launched the construction of a university college to be named after former US President Barrack Obama who has roots in the county.
The institution was to be a constituent college of Maseno University and was to be one of Rasanga’s key projects as Siaya’s first governor.
But Rasanga is now crying foul, saying the ongoing tussle between him and the national government over the ownership of the agricultural college -- which he wants to turn into a university -- is threatening the pet project.
The national government has refused to let go of some buildings at the institution, sending signals that it may take longer to hand over college, which technically belongs to the county since agriculture is a devolved function.
The county government has allocated Sh100 million for the renovation of buildings at ATC and purchase of additional land for the proposed university. Late last year, police officers moved into the staff houses at the ATC after the county government moved its staff to start the process of renovation.
This, the governor claims, was meant to frustrate his project.
The governor, through his Education department, wrote to the local county commissioner and the Inter-governmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) seeking a way forward.
But when Karega Mutahi, the head of the IGRTC visited Siaya last month to hand over the houses to the county government, Interior PS Karanja Kibicho sent a letter stopping the process.
The letter arrived just when Prof Mutahi was set to hand over the houses, putting off the exercise. In the letter, Kibichu requested for more time to allow the national government move its staff to other places. Fourteen houses are to be transferred to the county government.
Yesterday, Governor Rasanga threatened to sponsor a motion on the issue in the National Assembly through the county’s MPs.
“We are pursuing the university in earnest, except that it is being frustrated by the national government. The houses that we want to turn to offices and classes were illegally occupied by security forces,” he said.
Prof Mutahi, the governor said, was to return last month to hand over the houses but sent word that he was committed elsewhere.
“We have already contracted the works for renovation. Immediately we are done, Maseno University will certify that they can now start classes and bring in the Commission for University Education (CUE) for accreditation,” said Rasanga.
His wish is for the university to admit its first batch of students this year, but the tussle could delay his dream. The proposed university has also attracted the attention of Auditor General Edward Ouko, who is questioning some financial transactions.
In his 2015/16 report, Ouko said he could not confirm the validity of the expenditure of Sh19.3 million incurred on purchase of land. He questioned why the county government spent Sh19.3 million on purchasing land without consulting the Ministry of Education.
The Auditor General further questioned why the executive advertised for purchase of land without buildings but bought one that had developments.