Governor Sakaja tells Senate he inherited a financial mess

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja when he appeared before the Senate CPAC committee at KICC, Nairobi. February 27, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has told the Senate Public Accounts Committee that he inherited a mess in the financial management of county affairs which he is struggling to correct.

Sakaja who appeared before the committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang in Nairobi on Monday, February 27, said that the county management was in a free fall when he took over and that they have been able to collect Sh922 million as revenue for the duration he has been in office.

He said the State House Comptroller was the accounting officer for Nairobi Metropolitan Services and was best suited to explain how Sh43 billion was allocated for running the city after the handing over of essential services to the agency formed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Let me be very honest with this committee that it would be impossible for me to avail some of the documents sought to answer audit queries since they are in the possession of the State House Comptroller who was the accounting officer of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services,” said Sakaja.

The Nairobi Governor revealed that the handing over of assets and liabilities from the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to his administration was a matter that was still under discussion and that they were trying everything possible to ensure that they are on the right track.

Sakaja said that President William Ruto has been of great help in enabling the county administration to get on the right footing and that the office of the President was better placed to give details on the financial management of the city under the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

 The Nairobi Governor told the committee that most counties were behind in two months in remittances from the national treasury and that the county has been able to pay salaries for its employees from revenue collected unlike other counties which have not been able.

“As you are all aware there was a lot of confusion in the past Nairobi County government which ended up with Nairobi Metropolitan Services assuming some roles, for the last six months that I have been in power I have strived to put the county on the path to efficient service delivery,” said Sakaja.

Kajwang said that he was worried that Sakaja could tell the committee that it would not be possible that no matter how many times he will be asked to provide documents for financial expenditure they could not be available and that if such an attitude was adopted by other counties it will affect oversight.

The Committee Chairperson said that the Senate had been given powers by the constitution to seek documents that will help unravel audit queries and that the committee will not hesitate to use that power whenever it was required like in the current situation with Nairobi County.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna wondered why Sakaja had not declared from the onset that it was not possible to get financial documents sought by the auditor general and the committee since without them nothing much will be done as far as the answering of queries was concerned.

“We would like to tell Governor Sakaja that he should have informed the Senate Public Accounts Committee of the challenges he was facing so that we could take necessary action we could have summoned the former Director General of Nairobi Metropolitan Services,” said Sifuna.

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah said he sympathised with the predicament that Sakaja had found himself in and that the committee had powers to summon NMS Director General Mohammed Badi if need be so that he could shade light over audit queries raised for the last three years.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargey said it was clear that there was no proper handing over of assets and liabilities from the NMS to the Sakaja administration and that the past regime needed to be put to task over the spending of over Sh 43 billion allocated to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka said that the committee would hold deliberations on whether to summon former NMS Director General Mohammed Badi so that he could explain the expenditure of funds allocated to the county while he was overseeing essential services.