Nairobi County executive put on the spot over foreign trips

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja addresses a press conference during the grand opening of Nairobi Festivals on October 30, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Slightly over a year since Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja took over the leadership of Nairobi County, a lot has happened on the corridors of City Hall.

Sakaja’s administration came in at a time the county was under stewardship of army man Mohammed Badi, who took over some crucial roles during the Mike Sonko regime.

One year since the current regime was handed over all instruments of power and dockets, some city residents and leaders have started counter-checking the campaign promises and the situation on the ground.

Kileleshwa Member of County Assembly (MCA) Robert Alai has lately sparked heated debate in City Hall following revelations that some members of the Executive in the current regime have an insatiable appetite for foreign trips.

In a widely circulated update, the ward rep claimed that some members of the Executive literally change their clothes at the airport before catching the next flight to another country.

This is not the first time the Sakaja administration is facing scrutiny over foreign trips, which has put the Executive and Assembly at loggerheads.

Several MCAs who spoke to The Sunday Standard in relation to foreign trips said this is a sticky matter that has been dogging the current administration for several months.

“It is true senior officers from the county executive have been using most of the budget we pass in the assembly to tour from one country to the other,” nominated member Joyce Muthoni observed.

“We have been thinking that they are so busy with issues on the ground only to find out that most of them have up to two international trips in a month,” she added.

The member claimed that one officer, for instance, recently travelled to Canada for a week and upon arrival, the executive staffer travelled again to the same country after one week.

“They pocket above Sh1 million per trip. That money should have been used in other appropriate ways like paying for the bursaries,” she added.

Woodley Kenyatta Golf Course MCA Davidson Ngibuini said this is a contentious matter, adding the Executive should focus on delivering promises including garbage collection.

In a document widely circulated, several county staff are said to have been frequenting Dubai, the Emirates, Canada, France and Singapore.

The Sunday Standard shared the data of the alleged foreign trips in a document to the acting County Secretary Patrick Analo who doubles up as head of the County Public Service.

He however could not deny or confirm its authenticity but responded, “Those are applications made but many of them (trips) were rejected.”

Letters of invitation

Another senior officer in the office of the governor said that it is not against the law for the members of the Executive to travel out of the country.

“There is letters of invitation, clearances from Devolution and reports from the sectors on their travels. Rarely in office cannot be a blanket allegation,” the officer responded.

County Assembly Minority Leader Peter Imwatok who weighed in on the matter said the Assembly will perform its oversight role.

“We will do the oversight role and ascertain the facts at the right time,” the majority leader responded.

The issue of foreign trips resurfaced in the Assembly last week during a debate on a motion touching on delays of bursary distribution.

“It is sad that we are discussing this yet you see County officers flying from Nairobi to Washington, the same kitty providing for foreign travels should provide bursaries for our children,” Nairobi South Waithera Chege said while making her contribution.

The foreign trips debate comes at a time the county has been struggling to raise revenues, forcing the Assembly to form a committee to look into factors hampering revenue collection.