10 February 2010

Kenya: Resign over Maize Scandal, PM Raila Told

Nairobi — Prime Minister Raila Odinga has to "take political responsibility" for the Sh2 billion maize scandal that rocked the country late last year, six MPs said on.

The six, allied to the PNU wing of the coalition government, said Mr Odinga "had to lead by example and step aside" to allow for investigations into the role played by his office in the maize scandal.

Led by nominated MP George Nyamweya, the MPs said nine scandals had taken place under the watch of the Prime Minister. The scandals, they said, were proof enough that the PM "had failed in his work."

"The PM is the one with the ultimate political responsibility, that's if he hasn't realized it already,' said Mr Nyamweya.

The MPs said the independent audit by the PricewaterhouseCoopers had named two officers in the PM's office -the permanent secretary Mohammed Isahakia and principal administrative secretary Caroli Omondi-- and thus he had no excuse to continue holding office.

Taking cue from PM's Friday remarks for the beleaguered Education Minister Sam Ongeri and his PS Karega Mutahi to resign, the MPs said the PM had set a good precedent in the leadership of this country.

"If there is a whiff or credible evidence of corruption in any ministry the bosses have to resign," said Mr Nyamweya. "We have no problem with (Prof) Ongeri's resignation as long as the policy is implemented fairly."

They said the PM's remark that he had recommended that the education big shots step aside implied "the president was condoning corruption or wrongdoing."

The late afternoon news conference in Parliament buildings was only attended by three MPs, although the statement was signed by six of them. The other two who accompanied Mr Nyamweya are Kigumo's Jamleck Kamau and Kitutu Masaba's Walter Nyambati.

The MPs listed nine scandals in nine ministries and questioned why the PM "decided to speak only when it came to the Education scandal."

Top on the list was the Sh10.8 billion 'typing error' in last year's Supplementary Budget, the Sh7.6 billion in the Ministry of Energy, plus the Sh2 billion maize scandal.

The MPs also weighed in on Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang' over the illegal issuance of identity cards to Somali immigrants, and the Sh40 million used to deport the Jamaican fugitive cleric Abdulla Al-Faisal.

The secret sale of the Grand Regency Hotel and the delay in the release of the Census results including the payment of the clerks as some of the major scandals.

Charity Ngilu's Water Ministry was also mentioned as having "unresolved issues" and so did Prof Anyang' Nyong'o's Medical Services Ministry with regard to scandals in the Kenya Medical Training College. Ministry of Sports and Youth is also mentioned as being in the issue.

"If all the above escaped his (Mr Odinga) supervision and co-ordination, should he still not step aside for failure to supervise and coordinate ministries?" posed Mr Nyamweya.

Mr Kamau asked: "Why does the PM keep quiet when scandals happen in some ministries...what's the rationale of asking (Prof) Ongeri to step aside?"

"We leave it to his conscience and his good judgment (for him to decide whether to resign or stay put)" said Mr Nyamweya.

The other MPs whose names were signed in the statement issued are Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis), Peter Mwathi (Limuru) and Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa).

In an earlier news conference at the same venue, Mr Kioni said those who had been involved in the scandals ought to quit regardless of their status in government.

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