Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo has accused Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) of embezzling money meant for bursaries and invited investigating agencies to look into the matter.
This after it emerged that the MCAs may have colluded with the management of various schools to include non-existent students in the lists of beneficiaries.
Mr Nyaribo had ordered an investigation into how the money was utilised, and whose report he launched on Monday. A team led by IT experts that carried out the audit poked holes into the process of awarding the bursaries saying it was suspicious.
The audit team also included the fund’s administrator, Mr Anthony Oluoch. According to the report that was handed to the governor on Monday, a total of 6,467 names appeared more than twice in the lists of beneficiaries in some institutions.
A ward in Kitutu Masaba constituency had most of the duplicated names, at 1,974, according to the report. The report noted that some names had been repeated up to five times.
“During physical verification, it was discovered that a total of 2,177 students who were appearing in lists of beneficiaries across all listed schools were never known in the institutions, and not any records about them could be traced. Not even the students in the presented schools knew them,” Mr Nyaribo said.
A girls school in Nyamira South sub-County had 169 names listed as beneficiaries missing in the school register, and they were not known by other learners in the school, the report revealed.
Nyaribo spoke at Uhuru Gardens in Nyamira town where he issued bursary and scholarship cheques worth Sh110.7 million to needy students who are yet to join Form One due to financial challenges.
He said the funds he gave through the governor’s scholarship programme were part of the money that was misappropriated but later recovered in the previous financial years.
Education Executive Harrison Momanyi said up to Sh40 million, out of the total bursary of Sh99 million, would have been lost had the county government not intervened.
Mr Nyaribo apologised for the delay in the release of the bursaries, blaming it on MCAs whom he said had failed to administer the funds with the required integrity.
The governor took issue with Speaker Moffat Teya and the Leader of Majority Duke Masira, who is also the leader of government business in the county assembly, accusing them of being stumbling blocks in the disbursement of the bursaries.
“Even as I distribute cheques to these needy children, a month after other children went to school, one of the two leaders has been trying to pull strings to ensure this exercise doesn’t happen for his own political interests,” Mr Nyaribo said.
The governor also accused the two leaders of not being keen on passing legislation to enable the creation of a women empowerment fund through which small-scale traders would be helped to boost their businesses.
“The Speaker and the Majority Leader have been constant stumbling blocks, and they have refused to put the drafted laws to the Order Paper for debating, moderation, and enactment,” he said.
Mr Teya and Mr Masira have, however, denied the governor’s claims.
“We are in a season where politicians, the governor included, can say anything to taint other people’s names for selfish political gains. We know he wants votes in the coming elections and maybe that is why he has levelled so many accusations against MCAs. The governor should be ready to defend himself in court over his claims. We are not afraid of being investigated because we are also aware that is the only way we can clear our names,” said Mr Masira.
Mr Teya denied he was frustrating issuance of the bursaries saying: “We are an assembly of law-abiding leaders and if asking questions about transparency and accountability from the executive is wrong, then let them crucify us.”
The Speaker also said the legislation Mr Nyaribo was talking about had “loose ends” that Nyaribo and his team were reluctant to address.