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Auditor General Edward Ouko walks a tightrope tracing stolen public funds

By Otiato Guguyu | March 9th 2017
Auditor General Edward Ouko. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

The day-to-day job of the Auditor General involves checking whether 48 governments, one national and 47 county, have spent money according to the budget.

He also ensures that the governments present the receipts to support the spending within six months after the end of each financial year.

The Auditor also does special audits, including one on the effectiveness of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the impact of the Constitution, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) procurement of EVD, the Judicial Service Commission, the Judiciary, as well as Kenyatta National Hospital.

However, it is the special audits he took up on the Eurobond and the Sh791 million National Youth Service (NYS) scandal that have put him at loggerheads with the establishment.

Tension between the central government and Auditor General Edward Ouko's office became clear at the State House summit on corruption when President Uhuru Kenyatta derided him over his attempt to trace the Eurobond proceeds from American banks to projects on the ground.

"When you go and say the Eurobond was stolen and stashed in the Federal Bank of New York, are you telling me that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of the US have colluded, yaani mjinga ni nani (who is the fool). Surely, that the Kenyan government and the US government have colluded na huyu anasema anataka kuenda ku-interrogate (and this one, the Auditor General, says he wants to interrogate the Federal Reserve Bank of New York)," said Kenyatta.

The President, who claimed that Mr Ouko was playing to a political circus, where corruption is being used as a political tool, expressed veiled dissatisfaction that he had no power to get rid of him.

"We have the Auditor General, he keeps saying money was stolen from Eurobond, usiseme ni mimi nimekufungia wewe, (Do not claim that I have prevented your investigations). I did not appoint you, I cannot sack you. What is your problem? If it has been stolen by me or someone else, just say it."

It did not come as a surprise when similar acrimony came up at the Health Ministry against one of his officers, Bernard Muchere.

Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri tried to have Mr Muchere moved, claiming the job needed more senior auditors. He was supported by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.

Officials from the Office of the Auditor General are resented in government corridors and are accused of being too rash and strict on guidelines. They have reported colossal amounts of money misappropriated by government functionaries.

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