Sakaja in the cross hairs of lawmakers over audit queries

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is under siege as legislators allied to the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) accuse him of failing to deliver to the city residents.

Sakaja is also facing an onslaught from the Senate where he has snubbed summons of various committees for the last year.

The Senate County Public Accounts Committee Chairman Moses Kajwang said the governor had failed to appear before several parliamentary committees to answer audit queries over the expenditure of billions of shillings.

“Sakaja was supposed to explain how Sh 76 billion had been spent by Nairobi County Government in the financial years 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 with several questions being raised but he instead sent a last-minute letter explaining he would not be available,” said Kajwang.

The governor who surmounted hurdles to ascend to office is facing challenges as UDA lawmakers express dissatisfaction with the way he has been conducting City Hall affairs.

Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie said that Nairobi is facing the worst leadership crisis at City Hall with a dream sold during campaigns of a city of order, dignity and opportunity for all having turned into a nightmare with an arrogant and aloof leadership at City Hall.

“Nairobians are demanding a leadership with a well thought out master plan, with a clear vision as the cardinal guiding instrument that will be informing all policy decisions, legislative programmes and project decisions, the city has been running for the last two years without a clear blueprint,” said Kiarie.

The Dagoretti South MP who addressed Journalists at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, in the company of UDA MPs and Members of the County Assembly said the county administration is disjointed and allegedly prioritises programmes that feed insatiable greed of the city kleptomaniacs.

Kiarie claimed that a recent Auditor General report exposed gross mismanagement of public funds, payment of ghost workers, corrupt and selective payment of pending bills in exchange for kickbacks.

The legislator said that MCAs are not there to be bribed and the county administration should set up a ward development fund so that they can oversee development in their respective areas instead of the executive dangling the carrot to prevent them from raising concerns.

“The arrogance displayed in acquisition of private personal luxury assets by the city top leadership is shocking, never before has Nairobi been pilfered so brazenly with a display of juvenile bravado, intimidation and undermining those they cannot pay has become the order of the day,” claimed Kiarie.

The Dagoreti South MP said the governor must be invited by the Senate to set the record straight on expenditure of billions of shillings allocated to the county.

Roysambu MP Augustine Kamande cautioned Sakaja against contesting for Nairobi county UDA chairmanship saying that the local leaders are supporting Embakasi North MP James Gakuya for the seat.

Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru said that they are not interested in impeachment of the governor but they want to see a functioning Nairobi county which is the headquarters of Kenya and should lead by example of good management to the other 46 counties.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna termed the capital city as an exceptional case wondering why the governor refused to honour summons yet governors from far flung areas find time to appear before Senate committees.

“I am very disappointed that Sakaja has refused to appear before various parliamentary committees whenever called upon, he was supposed to tell us how the county spent Sh76 billion between 2020 and 2022 but unfortunately he chose to skip the invite,” said Sifuna.

He noted that the county was leading in pending bills at Sh107 billion and having served as a Nominated Member of National Assembly and the Nairobi Senator, Sakaja ought to show a good example to other governors since he understands how Parliament operates.

Sifuna said that the best way to deal with the Governor is to have the Controller of Budget stop the shareable revenue allocation to the county so that the leadership can answer audit queries whenever called upon by the Senate.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka said the matter should be escalated to the floor of the House for a drastic decision to be taken since being accountable and transparent to Parliament must take precedence at all times.

“We cannot have Governors deliberating avoiding to appear before Parliament since they know the much that can be done is being fined Sh500,000 which some can even pay several times as long as they avoid appearing before Parliament which is not acceptable,” said Onyonka.

Speaking during a live Television show last week, the governor denied snubbing the Senate saying that out of 14 times he has been invited for the last one year he has only missed three appearances of which he has adequately communicated to the committee chairpersons.

Sakaja said having served as a Member of Parliament for two terms before becoming a governor he understands the oversight role of the Senate and he has no reason not to appear especially where he is responding to audit queries related to his predecessor's tenure.

“I can tell you that I have appeared before the Senate many times than any other governor, it is ridiculous that the only three times that I have failed to appear and clearly explained my reasons, I can still be labelled as having snubbed Parliament,” he said.