By Salad Malicha
I wish to put record straight on weighty matters pertaining to outright theft of public resources, abuse of office and gross misconduct deliberately showcased by Isiolo County Government. The resilient community have been pushed to the wall and their only consolation has been the office of the distinguished Senator for Isiolo Hon. Fatuma Dullo devoid of support from any relevant investigative organs of the government. The Senator has consistently carried out her oversight roles with zeal and diligence with no tacit support from the County Assembly or any other constitutional bodies. It is with this view that I decided to reach out to watchdog institutions and members of the public to salvage our poor community from the current leadership doldrum. Mediocrity has replaced merit and as Macbeth once said “we have eaten on the insane root that takes the reasons, prisoners of conscience albeit in a different context”
SNEAK PREVIEW ON CURRENT STATUS AT PLAY
Reality of Isiolo County governance is tossing out unexpected scenario every other day. This will certainly shift in the way we relate to each other and do business of governance in Isiolo County. Quality leadership matters. Isiolo County government team is effectively suffering under burden of crafty and slippery political leadership. People expect their lives to leap forward, social relations to improve and negative politics disposed. The team opposing current leadership made one point clear. Dread. Fear –it is horror, run away culture.
There is now more confusion than light, disorder at county offices, deceit on past relations, lack of information and growing delusion. Things were not going in the right direction from onset. Isiolo county government is real theatre of absurd; Management by chaos, pressure on establishment and strain to the limit of governance and social structures. Everything seems to work through a chaotic process and behind schedule. It is a one man show with management centralized around the Governor. Service delivery is zilch! The Governor has never appeared in his office since he was sworn in save for occasional public appearance when visitors make courtesy call to the county. The county is completely in limbo and the cries of the impoverished is never heard anywhere except on the floor of the Senate. People’s expectation and dreams were shuttered.
Isiolo County Assembly which is mandated to do oversight on the executive, representation of people and making of County Bills have performed miserably due to persistent political patronage by the Executive arm of the county government. The Assembly have already auctioned their roles to the Executive and their major role has been reduced to rubber stamping demands of the Governor. Sad as it may be, it has become a norm where Members of the County Assembly are compromised through paltry handouts and brown envelopes to sanitize fraudulent expenditure through supplementary budget, illegitimate agreement with a private limited company and approve budget without putting in place any austerity measures. The buck stops with the measure of wisdom and ingenuity of the County leadership.
The county leadership hides and influence the public views behind shallow public relation gimmicks, ethics and social relations flow through resistant mode and manipulations. Change becomes slow and invisible. Any shifts that happens break lose rapidly and become erratic event. Conspicuous worrying trend is the insignificant expenditure on development by the county. In the last published report (September, 2018) by the Auditor General, the entire resources of the county were spent on recurrent expenditure, with no monies going to development. There are structural challenges that counties generally encounter on expending on development but we would have expected Isiolo, being a county in so much need of development, to seek innovative avenues for absorbing development expenditures. Whereas, it is unforgivable for any county, or indeed the national government to spend the bulk of its resources on wasteful expenditure, for needy and previously marginalized Counties like Isiolo, to waste this rare opportunity to erase the injustices of the past through waste is almost criminal. All this boils down to lackluster leadership with no vision for the Community.
In county defined and shaped by GRAND corruption in every sense of the words, Isiolo people have been completely naive and gullible. Perhaps they are disillusioned and demoralised not knowing where to turn to except praying for divine interventions. A culture’s ability to understand the world and itself is critical to its survival. But today we are led into the arena of public discourse by seers whose main gift is their ability to compel people to continue to watch them selling the soul of Isiolo with a few pieces of silver.
Dictatorship is like an aria that never becomes an opera, the county government, which was ostensibly designed for the people has got into the hands of the petty bourgeoisie and their master’s narrow, selfish and skewed interest. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy and clean bureaucratic process. Unpopular ideas are silenced and inconvenient facts kept in the dark for the purpose of hiding glaring truth in the closet.
They say democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation. The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent Board and members who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing
My concerns angles around the following thematic areas which has been perfected by the Isiolo county government since inception;
- Corruption and financial impropriety;
- Lip services/No service delivery;
- Skewed public procurement procedures;
- Nepotism/ cronyism/biased hiring of human capital;
- Lack of transparency and accountability;
- Gross violation of the constitution and statutory laws;
- Political patronage/ intimidation;
- Poor governance/Abuse of office; and
- Lack of public participation
Constitution of Kenya (2010) and other applicable laws demands that public participation on matters public affairs is mandatory and there is no short cut about it. It cannot be circumvented. Nonetheless, public participation has a different meaning to Isiolo people as they are not consulted on public affairs. On numerous occasions, public participation in Isiolo town has been conducted in high end/ lavish hotels where participants are selected depending on political persuasions, affiliations and leanings. Hoi polloi’s say public participation has been popularly christened “Hotels Gate consultations”. Consequently, all this cosmetic hubris contravenes the very cardinal law of our land. Public participation is considered a crucial pillar of the Kenyan Constitution. It is by providing the public with the opportunity to take part in decision making processes in government.
SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS BEDEVILING ISIOLO COUNTY ASSEMBLY
- Members of the County Assembly have become the official operational satellite unit of the Executive wing of the Isiolo County Government where they receive directives/orders to restrain or refrain depending on the nature orders.
- They have abdicated oversight role and conspicuously withdrawn/deserted their cardinal role. They have abandoned their sacred role of representing their electorates. It is total misrepresentation/reassigned roles and completely lack capacity to execute legislative duties.
- The Assembly is accustomed to deep-seated mismanagement, malpractices, malfeasances and fraudulent practices. Prevailing situations is individual centered management (Speaker & Clerk). The County Assembly Service Board (CASB) and the top management is reeling on death bed.
- There are no clear Action and strategic plan. Financial resources meant to empower the staff are outrightly gobbled by few select individuals. There are neither available expenditure plans nor quarterly/annual report tabled for public scrutiny. The Assembly has no staff establishment plan in place, no internal control systems, no policies procedures and guidelines in place for the management. This assertion is supported by adverse financial systems as authoritatively captured by the Auditor General’s report, Letter from the Auditor (dated 25th January,2018), various circulars from Ethics and Anti-Corruption and official communiqué from individuals within the County Assembly.
- Isiolo County Assembly is a “mock” of a legislature. It is completely a failed institution with no signs of resurrection any time soon leaving public to unabated grinding jaws of unbridled corrupt and cannibalistic mutant county executives.
- Owing to inherent failure by the County Assembly to offer checks and balances except the office of the distinguished Isiolo Senator Hon. Dullo, Isiolo people feel that they are forsaken, disowned and abandoned by all investigative agencies of the National Government such as Ethics And Anti-Corruption (EACC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Office of the Ombudsman and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Could it be these agencies are an accomplice with the county operatives? It is an open secret the resilient people have lost trust and hope in these watchdog institutions and their have resorted to divine interventions.
AREAS ON THE SPOT LIGHT
- Under what circumstances was Hon, Nura Diba kicked out of the position of the Chair Budget, Finance and Appropriations Committee? Could there be hidden force of impunity behind the ouster. The agency should swing into action and summon all those suspected to be involved including the former embattled Chairman.
- What happened to the 30 Million County Assembly Speaker’s residence plan which was adequately captured in the Final Year 2018/2019 Budget?
- What is the exact number of premises hired/rented by the County Assembly to be used by the staff and what was the cost incurred as per the Financial Year 2017/2018 and 2018/2019? Are these facilities currently utilized by the Assembly?
- Were the ward representative offices established in all the 10 wards as captured in the Budget? What is the status quo? Any documentary evidence for construction and civil works?
- Is there properly established scheme of service for members by the Assembly? What is the exact total number of staff and what are their categories? The Assembly do not have approved Human Resource Plans contrary to Human Resources Policies Procedures Manual for the Public Services, May 2016.
- How was the idea of the proposed modern County Assembly chamber and the restaurant conceived? Any stakeholder’s engagement? What was the procurement process? The Assembly has failed to submit monthly progress reports for all procurement contract as required by Section 152 of Public Procurement and Assets Disposals (PPAD) Act, 2015. The is required to publicize all contract awards on its notice board at conspicuous place and website as required by Section 138 (1) of the PPAD Act, 2015.
- The Assembly is notorious for failing to prepare, publish and publicize quarterly financial reports as required by Section 166 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. In addition, quarterly cash flows report supported by approved procurement plan as required by Section 43 (3), (4) of the Public Finance Management Act,2012 has never been provided for audit and public review.
- What is the Assembly’s Recurrent Expenditure plan viz-a-viz Development plan? Any reports on expenditure which was tabled in the Chamber together with all monthly, quarterly, annually and internal audit reports?
QUICK MITIGATION/ INTERVENTION
Isiolo County Assembly is the real face of impunity and conveyor belt for milking public resources by the executive arm of the county government. The Assembly is dogged by weak management that cannot stand on its feet and that explains why they fail to do any form of check and balances to other institutions. Spontaneous and swing action is expected from the government agencies like EACC, DCI and DPP to restore normalcy by making leaders culpable for their flaws and conduct forensic audits of all documents related to procurement, financial and human resources. Thorough investigation should be conducted with speed on the following;
- County Assembly Service Board Members;
- County Assembly Executive heads; the Speaker and the Clerk
- County Assembly Management team;
- County Assembly sectoral heads; and
- Chairperson of all departmental committees with specific attention to Budget, Finance & Appropriation Committee, Public and Account and Investment Committee, Liaison Committee and Health Committee.
REALITY CHECK/ SITUATION ROOM
It is an open secret to all and sundry that abrupt changes at the Isiolo county treasury was dramatically sanctioned last year, July 2018 by the Governor with a sole aim of siphoning and looting taxpayers for his own selfish gain by installing individuals who have perfected the art of stealing public resources and much more those who can work at the behest of the Governor. The Governor decided to dish out crucial positions to wishy washy and lame duck fellows to take up the IFMIS password and Internet Banking password (IB) roles from the previous officers. These unprecedented changes were carried out without consulting Isiolo County Public Service Board. Moreover, the changes contravene the explicit guidelines stipulated in the official circular by the Principal Secretary, National Treasury; Dr. Kamau Thugge on 11th July 2018. The agencies should do thorough background check on what triggered the changes which goes against the spirit of the circular (Annexure A-REF:/MOF/IFMIS/1/34/8/ (20) IMIFIS users management: Review of IFMIS systems dated 11th July 2018)
The orthodox manner of operations compelled former Isiolo County Finance and Economic Planning CEC Mwenda Thiribi to resign from his position via a letter dated 26th October, 2018 citing massive corruption and frustration by cartels. The former Karumasi director accused the county’s top management of deliberately plotting to sabotage his efforts in delivering services to the people of Isiolo. Mr. Thiribi further stated that he was sidelined and blocked from accessing IFMIS which is the public electronic procurement system that provides an end-to-end platform intended to enhance accountability among suppliers and expenditures. It is my prayer that the government agencies should investigate the former County Executive Committee Member for Finance and Economic Planning be grilled properly to expound more on the circumstances that led to his unceremonious exit (Annexure B- Letter of Resignation by Former CEC Mwenda Thiribi dated 26th October 2018)
• Sericho Ward Member of the County Assembly Hon. Nura Diba who was ousted from the powerful Budget, Finance and Appropriation Committee Chair explicitly alleged that he was replaced after he forwarded an explosive document to the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji in a letter dated January 7, 2019 accusing the Speaker and Clerk of the House of massive financial improprieties. The Ward Representative should be summoned to give comprehensive information on the crucial issues he raised in the letter. (Annexure C- Ominous Operations at the County Assembly dated 7th January 2019)
- As I have stated earlier, Isiolo County Assembly is a “mock” of a legislature which is limping badly due to collapsed management framework. Internal activity is guided by a zero-sum philosophy of adding no value to improve the wobbling operations of the institution.
The management does not assist the institution in accomplishing its objective by bringing a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the organization’s governance, risk management and internal control. The Assembly is nosediving South due to inherently poor governance. I am absolutely certain that County Assembly Service Board (CASB) is completely incapacitated specifically by the Speaker and the Clerk. The Auditor General put the office of the Clerk in the limelight for failing to furnish his office with 40 crucial documents to enable them in carrying out proper audit exercise. The documents range from approved organization chart, approved strategic plan, approved Budget, Budget Policy and guidelines, approved audit plan, Board survey report, report on human resources policy, procurement records to log books and title deeds. Understandably, till today the Assembly has not acted on it. (Annexure D-REF:EH/AUD/ISIOLOCNT/ASSE/2016-207/02 Request of Document for Continuous/Financial operation and Final Audit for Final Year 2016-17 dated 25th January 2018)
- The Office of the Controller Budget made some crucial observations on the FY 2018/19 Isiolo county approved budget which was not adhered to by the County government. The Controller sought on clarity of the development programmes and projects which was placed under recurrent budget and hence called for reclassification. A good budget should allocate sufficient funds to maintain provision of basic services at the current levels. Prior financial year budget estimates and performance should therefore, form the baseline of what is to be allocated in subsequent periods. Regulation 55 (2) b of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015, stipulates that “the finalized and signed contracts are budgeted for first, before new projects are considered by the accounting officer of the county government entity”. This implies that, the finalized and outstanding works or contracts should be budgeted for as a first charge before any new projects are considered. On the matter of pending Bills in the approved budget, the identity of the specific activities and schedule of all pending bills be clearly stated. The Controller further noted that, Section 110, 112 & 113 of the PFM Act, 2012 allows Counties to establish an Emergency Fund of up to 2 % of its last audited revenue in a single year to cater for any unforeseen occurrences. Despite these provisions, there is no any allocation for Emergency Fund in the Approved Budget. The County should ensure that adequate funds are allocated for any unforeseen occurrences in line with the law. (Annexure E- Ref: COB/ISL/002/2/- Comments on the Isiolo County Approved Budget Estimates for FY 2017/2018 by the Office of the Controller of Budget)
- They say in human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. Isiolo County Public Service Board (CPSB) have been conducting their duties beyond reproach in accordance with the laid down laws of the land save for the intermittent bottlenecks orchestrated by the dark forces from the Executive hellbent on frustrating the ideal work ethics of the Board. More often than not, the executive arm of the government usurped the function of the Board. The County Public Service Board is established in Section 57 and 58 of the County Government Act 2012 which was amended in 2015. The County Public Service Board (CPSB) is charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing human resource policies and framework for the County Government in line with the relevant laws.
Functions of the County Public Service Board are set out in Section 59(1) of the County Government Act. The County Executive Committee has the responsibility to design a performance management plan to evaluate the performance of the county public service and the implementation of county policies. County sectoral plans are to be used as the basis for performance Management and the County Public Service Board is to advice the County Government on implementation and monitoring of the national performance management system in counties. On several instances, the Executive wing of the county government arrogate the role of the Board. Notable one includes where Chief Officer for Health wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health seeking permission to hire Health volunteers citing inordinate delay and complaints regarding the Board and yet Health is a devolved function. (Annexure F1- REF.ISO/CONT/CPHO/F.1/VOL..1/3 Authority to employ UHC contractual Health workers dated 6th March 2019 authored by Chief Officer for Health and Annexure F2-Ref: No: ISO/CONT/COH//11.2/VOL.1/45 Posting Order, dated 24th May 2019)
- There were deep seated queries on the Report of Auditor General on Isiolo County Executive for the year ended 30 June 2018. The Auditor General stated in the Report that the information provided was limited in scope and/or the company being audited has not fully adhered to the provided/outlined accounting standards. In addition to that, as at 30 June 2018, the county executive had not established an audit committee as required by Section 42(1) of Public Finance Management (County government) Regulation 2015 and guidelines required by gazette notice number 2690 of 15 April 2016 on audit committee.
Discrepancies from the Report.
- Governor’s Department: 278M on development expenditure, a third of the total cost on development by the County; What are the major items?
- Livestock: Development expenditure was 86M: What are the major items and what was the cost of vaccinating 5,000 heads?
- Roads: What was the respective per Km, of the improvement of the 75Km of Isiolo Town roads and the 30Km road in the park?
- Cohesion: Total outlay was 79M and the key component is indicated as Civic Education. What was the mode of delivery and what kind of education was intended to be imparted?
- Education: Development expenditure was 9M, to construct 5 ECD classrooms; therefore, each class cost 1.8M?
- Water: Actual total expenditure was 120M; should this not be the cost for the water company, IWASCO? Which areas benefitted?
- Environment: Actual total was 47M; if development expenditure of 13.3M was to do with the 3,500-seeding planted in Isiolo town, each cost 3,800? Is this a stand-alone unit that nurtures the plants and attends to other environmental matters?
- Medical Services: 78M of development expenditure relates wholly to 2 oxygen plants? Were they acquired through proper tendering and did they have maintenance contracts?
- Page 5 Pt. 9.1 – Domestic Travel & Subsistence: 89M spent?
- Page 6 Pt. 9.3 –Hospitality, Supplies & Services: 121M Spent?
- Page 7 Pt. 11.2 – Civil Works spent 197M with no supporting documents!
(Annexure G- Summary of the Report of the Auditor General on Isiolo County Executive for the year ended June 30 2018)
- The county executive’s transparency problems are compounded by the fact that the Executive is yet to establish an Internal Audit Committee, a worrying violation of Section 155 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012. As a result, county financial operations/expenditure are not subjected to an internal audit process which would serve as an early warning system to identify potential/emerging risks early and either avoid them or mitigate their effect. Additionally, this created a loophole whereby the County Treasury fail to submit financial reports to the Auditor-General on time. Further, the county has not established a County Budget and Economic Forum (CBEF) as required by Section 137 of the PFM. As a result, public participation in county budget processes is hampered. As expected, the County Assembly has become an agent to rubber stamp fraudulent County Executive policies and decisions. (Annexure H- Observations from the Controller Budget Annual County Government Implementation Review Report for the Financial Year 2017/2018 September 2018 by Hon. Senator. Dullo)
- Isiolo County Assembly passed a supplementary budget on 22nd May 2019 without mandatory public participation. Article 201 of the Constitution is clear on openness, accountability and promotion of equitable development. To our utter dismay, the manner in which the budget was passed raises both serious procedural and substantive issues. The supplementary budget was not subjected to rigorous Public Participation and this is deliberate mischief on the part of the executive but the County Assembly actually did not understand what they approved or they were told to do so.
The Supplementary Budget had too many serious anomalies and appears to have violated a number of key provisions of the law. Of importance to be noted include:
- 5,484,098,999 Billion was approved for expenditure which is more than 10% of the Isiolo County Approved Budget of 4.72 Billion; this is contrary to PFM Act which sets the limit for supplementary budget at a figure not more than 10% of appropriated budget.
- The Budget has also set aside 3,624,214,048 Billion for recurrent expenditure and 1,859,884,951 for development. It clearly appears like the county has made no effort to prioritise on development.
- It is important to note that from reports of the controller of budget Isiolo County spent zero shillings on development during the first half of the 2018/2019 financial year and even now appears to be spending over half of its budget on recurrent expenditures at the expense of development.
- In the budget the County has also diverted money meant for Development to Recurrent expenditure a move that will seriously affect the County’s development projects.
- An excess of 400 Million has been moved from several development funds and transferred elsewhere. (Hospitality and supplies services, cohesion, emergency relief food and routine maintenance)
- 80 Million has been slashed from construction of County Headquarters, 50 Million from construction of Ngarendare bridge, 155 Million from the construction of Isiolo Market and 34.5 Million from construction of Isiolo Stadium to emergency relief foods.
- The total expenditure on recurrent issues appears to have hit the ceiling and this move might slow down development in the County. Isiolo County appears to be making very little efforts towards improving the status of the County and the Assembly increasingly becomes the Executive’s guillotine tool. (Annexure I1 – A copy of the supplementary Budget, Annexure I2- Concerns over Supplementary Budget raised by Hon. Senator Dullo dated 29th May, 2019)
Governance institutions often respond in single rigid way, leaders expose weaker side of human face, new rules are set to enhance exclusion, transformation path is obstructed, unmanageable stress become order of the day, social order is exposed to series of crisis that open path to distraught and hopelessness. In Public services, corruption undermines democracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. Corruption in county governance reduces accountability and distorts representation in policy making.
When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society. We are tired of this unending ruckus and circus starring both Executive and Assembly organs of the County Government.
Governance in Isiolo county is through chaos and crisis which compromises the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the inefficient provision of services. Some forms of corruption – called “Institutional corruption” – are distinguished from bribery and other kinds of obvious personal gain. A similar problem of corruption arises in any institution that depends on financial support from people who have interests that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution. Isiolo County is one such case study.
Behind the facade of the current “elected” county government of Isiolo are a bunch of corporate controlled gangsters running the county. There is widely believed mantra that the County government (Executive and the Assembly) are chest thumping and exhibiting outright arrogance that “no one can do anything to them” owing to easy “cash” from proceeds of corruption at their disposal. The catchy phrase is; “With money in our hands we shall navigate our ways”. That they can buy any one including national government investigating agencies and watchdog institutions. It is said, fall of Empire is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for months, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop. By writing this petition, I am representing the silent majority.
The current happenings in Isiolo County violates the very basic principle of republicanism regarding the centrality of civic virtue. There are dark cloud hanging on the head of the Isiolo Governor when it comes to prudent utilization of public resources. It is my humble prayer that urgent and speedy investigation be instituted and actively monitor expenditure by Isiolo County government in order to ensure adherence to constitutional and statutory provisions on public expenditure and take appropriate action expeditiously.