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Nyakang'o raises fund queries as county leaders criticise Arati

 Kisii Governor Simba Arati addresses the County Assembly during his State of the County address on October 3, 2023. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Differences between Kisii Governor Simba Arati and a section of legislators from the area heightened over the weekend, with the Controller of Budget imposing a temporary halt to the further requisition of funds by the devolved unit.

The leaders who oppose Governor Arati's leadership style attended a church service at Nyabururu Parish and called for sobriety, urging an end to the chaos in the Kisii county government.

The leaders, led by Senator Richard Onyonka, National Assembly Majority Chief Whip Sylvanus Osoro, and MPs Daniel Manduku (Nyaribari Masaba), Japhet Nyakundi (Kitutu Chache North), and Dorice Donya (Woman Rep), emphasised the need for consultation.

The leaders' remarks came five days after the Controller of Budget, Dr Margaret Nyakango, wrote to the County Executive for Finance, Kennedy Abincha, regarding the payment of over Sh 1.2 billion in pending bills.

According to Nyakango, a letter from the county dated November 20 did not address alleged claims of ineligible pending bills.

In her letter, she said the county did not provide reasons for classifying certain bills as ineligible.

"Please submit your feedback before December 10 or before any further requisition of funds from the County Revenue Fund. Provide the mechanism used by the county to determine the bills classified as ineligible and outline how the outstanding bills will be disposed of."

The county is also required to furnish reasons for the eligibility of each pending bill and submit the final approved report by the Gazetted Pending Bills Verification Committee, which should be signed off and verified by all committee members.

In subsequent developments, following the church services, the leaders convened with Kisii Governor Arati's Deputy, Dr Robert Monda, at his home for a six-hour closed-door meeting.

After the meeting, MP Osoro addressed the media, saying the leaders are concerned about the low absorption of development funds.

"We paid a courtesy call to the Deputy Governor and gained insight into the ongoing development projects in the county. A pre-condition from the Controller of Budget has surfaced, and it is likely to impact our people. This should be a concern for any right-thinking leader or citizen in Kisii."

He added: "The leaders recognised the necessity to engage with one another to reach an amicable solution. There is a prevailing sentiment that Kisii has performed poorly in the last 13 months."

However, Arati insists that those criticising him have no basis. "The role of elected officials is well defined in the constitution; I have MCAs who should be raising questions on county leadership, not MPs."

Osoro said there was discontent among Kisii leaders. "We have been informed of the executive's involvement in penalising MCAs who are posing questions about the county's leadership.

"We have witnessed MCAs being removed from House Committees simply for diligently performing their oversight duties."

Early during the church service, Onyonka had called on the governor to lead the county to prosperity by engaging all stakeholders.

"Kisii has never had dictatorial leadership. Let every leader and citizen express their opinion without being clobbered or intimidated," Onyonka said.

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