Senators to flex muscles and summon obstinate governors

Members of the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee during a past sitting. They want leaders to answer audit queries for the 2014/2015 financial year. [File, Standard]

A Senate committee will force defiant governors to appear before it to shed light on audit queries.

Members of the County Public Accounts and Investment Committee are furious at the 12 governors for failing to heed summons to respond to questions raised by Auditor General Edward Ouko on expenditure during the 2014/2015 financial year.

Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Patrick Khaemba (Trans-Nzoia) and Martin Wambora (Embu) are expected to answer queries touching on spending during their first term in office.

First-term county bosses Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Abdi Mahamud (Wajir), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit) and Ali Korane (Garissa) are expected to respond to queries touching on their predecessors' actions.

Yesterday, committee chairperson Moses Kajwang' said they would be forced to compel the county chiefs to appear before them, noting that the governors were complicating their work by refusing to co-operate.

Slowing work

"The non-appearance by the governors, without giving us notice, is slowing down our work as a committee. We have taken a decision to summon the 12 county chiefs who have failed to appear before us,” said Mr Kajwang'.

According to the Homa Bay senator, only six of the 18 governors the committee had invited had turned up.

“We shall review all the reasons given by the country chiefs and if we find out that the excuse was not sufficient, we will be compelled to drag them before our House team. Governors come to us when they need money and refuse to be held accountable."

Kajwang' spoke yesterday during a meeting where Governor Muthomi Njuki of Tharaka Nithi was questioned by senators over spending by the county administration during the regime of his predecessor Samwel Ragwa.

Last week, Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso was grilled by the committee after she honoured an invite. Other county bosses who have appeared before the Senate team this year include Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo).

Mr Njuki faced questions regarding Sh1.3 billion the county paid as compensation to employees three years ago. In his 2014/2015 report, the Auditor General had questioned why the administration had not provided documents to prove that the payments had been made.

The governor said the county had been paying ghost workers at the time, but was quick to point out that they had put measures in place to prevent a recurrence. This included migrating from a manual employees' register to a digital platform as well as installing a bio-metric identification system.