Link to the article on The Star Newspaper
Besieged Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua yesterday attributed his woes to the budget stalemate pitting his office against MCAs.
During the second day of the Senate Special Sitting hearing Gachagua’s proposed removal from office, the county boss maintained that the impeachment motion was caused by disagreements over the budget.
The Senate was last night expected to vote on whether the impeachment motion against the governor had merit. Through his legal counsel Peter Wanyama, Gachagua said the county assembly conspired to alter his 2016-17 budget by a staggering Sh95.4 million, sparking a vicious standoff.
“The drastic allocation and reallocation by the assembly was meant to sabotage the budgetmaking process. The reduced budget led to delays in the preparation of the Appropriations Bill,” Wanyama said.
On why the county was yet to establish economic forums as required under the Public Finance Management Act, he said this is the responsibility of the county government and not the governor.
“The charge as crafted is faulty as it talks about the governor,” Wanyama said. Nyeri Finance executive Charles Githinji appeared as a witness. He told the Senate attempts to get representatives from various institutions to the forum have hit a snag. He said the county was unable to establish the agency because of squabbles pitting the executive against the assembly and because the county did not present to the assembly the Appropriations Bill as required.
The defence also lined up Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, Auditor General Edward Ouko and Eliud Muchoki as principal witnesses as the governor launched an onslaught against three charges of gross violation of the constitution, failure to comply with the law and abuse of office, leading to a Sh1.7 billion loss.
Odhiambo and Ouko told senators their appearance was to put the record straight to help the House determine whether the impeachment proposal should be adopted.
Asked whether it was proper to have a Finance executive in an acting capacity, Ouko said while that was not a big concern to him, there was need for the official to have a strong financial background. Githinji has worked in an acting capacity for a year. He is trained as a medic. “It is an important post and one is expected to know public finance management and be familiar with all the relevant laws. Unless one is unqualified which would be a concern,” Ouko said.
He told Senators that in his audit report on the financial accounts of Nyeri county in 2013-14, Sh29 million was flagged off as having not been properly utilised for the renovation of a private office to house county staff in Nyeri.
Ouko said the money used to renovate the building could have been used to buy a plot and build a new structure because the county was paying rent for the refurbished offices.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale asked why the Auditor General was lenient in recommending that Gachagua be surcharged for misappropriation. “My work is not to hang anyone, that is the work of this House, mine is to table a report,” Ouko said.