Since Edward Ouko took charge of the Auditor General’s office in 2011, Kenyans have been accustomed to annual reports that reveal misappropriation of funds with counties being the biggest culprits in recent years.
In a rare occurrence with the 2017/2018 financial year report, Mr Ouko gave Makueni and Nyandarua counties a clean bill of health. This was not only a breath of fresh air but a show of what good leadership can achieve. Governors Kivutha Kibwana and Francis Kimemia not only kept their financial books in check but appropriately drove development in their respective counties.
In a TV interview with Betty Kyalo, Prof. Kibwana displayed a different style of leadership where three things stood out; active participation with daily meet-ups with his staff, humility and graceful interaction with locals and the intentional employment of young people in his office. These and many qualities of the calm leader are what most Kenyans yearn for if the calls on social media for him to run for presidency in 2022 are anything to go by. On being asked about how he’s managed to have staff that serve diligently and evade scandals, he simply responded by saying that when one leads by example even those that work under him will feel to mandated to replicate the same. Attesting to the fact that people always watch what their leaders do and follow in their strides. Corruption yields corruption, while honest service yields diligence across the board.
While Kenyans are relishing this rare show of leadership, there were other unpleasant revelations by the Auditor General. Kisumu County for one couldn’t account for the spending of Kes3.7 million that was set aside to purchase 27 Ayrshire cows but turned out that only one cow had receipts to proof its purchase. The Auditor General couldn’t help but reach the conclusion that the purchase of the remaining 26 cows was questionable.
A report by the Controller of Budget that was tabled in Parliament revealed that the State gobbled up Kes7.5 billion on travel in 5 months despite calls by the Treasury for austerity to free up funds for development. The Presidency used up Kes324 million, Judiciary used up Kes166 million, Public Service Commission Kes1.113 billion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 801 million, State Department of Interior used up Kes616 million and the MPs took up the biggest portion of Kes2.5 billion. Despite this much money being spent on unessential travel by our legislators, MPs still came forward recently with new demands playing oblivious to the heavy burden borne by the taxpayer. As if their salaries and allowances aren’t enough, the MPs now want benefits similar to those in New Zealand. They’re now demanding Kes400,000 in hotel allowance for whenever they’re in Nairobi to attend sittings.
This came after they went benchmarking in New Zealand, and wanted to replicate the same in Kenya. To demand benefits similar to those of MPs in a first world country is outrageous. Does Kenya match New Zealand in terms of development, GDP and standard of education and living to merit these demands? It is amusing to see MPs forget that their primary role is to serve and positively impact Kenyans’ lives while in office. This here can be likened to an abusive marriage where one partner gets the shorter end of the stick in the partnership while being milked to meet the other’s demands.
That said, Prof. Kibwana is one of those rare principled ones that prove that there is still hope for Kenya to enjoy better leadership. His leadership should cause others in positions of power to look in the mirror and self-evaluate. What will it take to get similar reports from the National Government ministries and parastatals?