The so-called land issue raised by anonymous bloggers (ostensibly paid and instructed by persons within the County Executive and County Assembly) is a gross mischaracterisation of facts and full of falsehoods and is meant to tarnish the Senator’s name and distract from her consistent and vigilant oversight over the county’s use of public funds.
The Senator has consistently raised concerns over the Executive’s use of public funds and the Assembly’s failure to effectively exercise oversight over the County Executive. In particular, the following issues have been raised by the Senator, but the County Executive and the Assembly have failed to take any corrective action:
• Despite concerns raised by the Senator and concerned citizens, and despite advice from the National Treasury, the County Executive has since launched a partnership with Living Goods Ltd in which the County Executive is spending undisclosed amounts of money to roll out a questionable project with no observable benefits for the people of Isiolo. During the process of negotiating this agreement, the Senator sought to ensure that this process was done according to the relevant laws including laws on public participation and financial laws. The Assembly abdicated its duty to hold the Executive accountable and to properly scrutinise the agreement. Subsequent to the launch of the partnership, the Assembly has again failed to demand explanations and progress reports from the Executive and Living Goods Ltd. So far, it is unclear what the project has achieved and how much public funds have been spent.
• Despite findings by the Controller of Budget and the Auditor-General that Isiolo County Government (Executive and Assembly) had misused public funds for the financial year 2017/18 and despite the County Government’s failure to fully account for monies previously allocated to it, the Assembly proceeded to approve the Supplementary Budget 2018/19 for Ksh. 5, 483,674, 590. The funds for the Supplementary Budget have since been released to the County, but the Assembly has so far failed to demand explanations from the Executive on how these funds are being utilised.
• The County Government has embarked on construction of the County Headquarters with no accountability or oversight whatsoever from the Assembly despite the fact that the Supplementary Budget allocated Ksh 80,000,000 to this project in the Supplementary Budget. There is no indication so far of how the tendering process for the project was done and how much money has been spent so far.
• Despite the Auditor-General raising audit queries on the County Government’s utilisation of funds allocated to emergency relief in 2017/18, the Assembly passed the Supplementary Budget 2018/19 allocating a further Ksh. 206,025,692 to emergency relief. Despite this allocation, the County Government has failed to assist Isiolo County residents affected by adverse weather conditions and emergencies. The Assembly has not demanded an explanation from the Executive on how the allocation for emergency relief has been spent. Instead, the County Government has waited for emergency relief from the national government (lobbied for by the Senator) and is now attempting to take credit for national government efforts while not accounting for how it has utilised its allocation for emergency relief.
• Concerning the dispute between Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and communities in Isiolo, the Senator has in fact consistently sought to find amicable solutions which would ensure that communities get to regain and retain control over land and control over the benefits accruing therefrom. In this regard, the Senator has officially written to the County Government multiple times urging the County Government to take charge of the negotiations between NRT and communities. This is because the constitutional authority over community land rests with the County Government who holds the land in trust for communities. This authority does not rest with the Senator. In her capacity as the Senator and exercising her powers of oversight and in the best interests of the County, the Senator has endeavoured to get the County Government to exercise its constitutional authority and act in the communities’ interests in relation to land over which NRT claims interest. In this regard, the Senator has written to the County Executive on several occasions and copied the Assembly. However, the County Government has refused to assist communities in their engagement with NRT over community land, instead leaving communities at the mercy of NRT which is more well-resourced and does not necessarily have the best interests of communities at heart. The County Government needs to do its part as custodian of community land and engage with NRT on communities’ behalf to ensure that the interests of communities prevail over those of NRT.
Consequently, the County continues to lose funds because the County Executive is not accountable to the people and to the Assembly despite being constitutionally required to do so. The County Assembly which is tasked with direct and immediate oversight over the Executive has also abdicated its role and is instead involved in the same unaccountable practices as (and with) the Executive. It will be recalled that the Auditor General issued qualified and adverse opinions in his 2017/18 report on the financial statements of the County Executive and County Assembly respectively, meaning that both the Executive and the Assembly could not account for public funds allocated to them.
The above issues raise serious questions as to the ability of the Executive to perform its constitutional functions effectively and accountably and of the ability of the Assembly to hold the Executive accountable. Instead, the Executive and the Assembly are attempting to distract from their failure to account for public funds meant for development of Isiolo County by spreading falsehoods and misinformation about the Senator who has consistently fought for accountability by the Executive and the Assembly.