Governor clashes with assembly over debate on graft report

Laikipia County Assembly speaker Patrick Waigwa (left), Majority Leader Peter Thomi (centre) among Members during the press conference where they expressed displeasure over Governor Ndiritu Muriithi's accusation that they failed to debate auditor general's report on 2014/215 and 2015/2016 financial years. [Jacinta Mutura/Standard]
The county assembly and Executive have clashed after the governor accused the MCAs of failing to exercise their oversight role.

The MCAs protested statements by Governor Ndiritu Muriithi last week that the assembly had failed to scrutinise and debate the audited accounts of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, instead leaving them to gather dust on the shelves.

“One of the primary county assembly roles is oversight and one of the professional roles for oversight is the audited accounts. I am a bit saddened because the assembly has not considered and debated the reports for two consecutive financial years,” said Mr Muriithi.

But in a press conference Wednesday, the ward representatives, led by Speaker Patrick Waigwa, accused Mr Muriithi of undermining their oversight function.

Mr Waigwa said that the governor ought to have sought for clarification on the issue from him or the Office of the Clerk before going to the media. He further noted that the MCAs were being taken through induction, adding that the responsible committees would go through the reports.

Proper oversight

“We are barely one year in office and the members were first taken through induction for training on proper oversight and how to make informed recommendations. There is no need of discussing reports just for the sake... but now the Executive should be ready for thorough oversight,” said Waigwa.

The audited accounts had implicated both the assembly and Executive in irregular payments.

“It is my appeal that the assembly take their oversight role seriously because it is that debate that can inform financial management. I know reading financial statement is not easy for many people but that is their job as we modernise the way we are running finances in Laikipia,” the governor said.

The MCAs, however, took issue with Muriithi’s failure to raise the same concerns with the Senate, which is also mandated to perform an oversight function.

The Auditor General’s 2015-2016 report on the assembly’s finances found irregular per diem payments to MCAs amounting to Sh3.4 million, unsupported allowances of Sh1.6m, over-expenditure on air travel by Sh3.3 million and irregularities in the car and mortgage schemes.

The Auditor General also revealed over-expenditure of Sh8 million in the MCAs’ sitting allowance, an overpayment of Sh2.59 million in basic pay and pending bills of Sh31 million as well as irregular procurement procedures.

An adverse opinion was also issued against the Executive, meaning the books were badly kept and figures were not adding up.

For instance, the reports indicated that Sh40 million in six bank accounts was not incorporated in the financial statements.

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oversight rolelaikipia governor ndiritu muriithiAuditor General