For the first time in
the history of Kenya, the public is keen in participating in policy and
legislative development as well as holding leaders accountable as opposed to
the past where citizens were mere recipients of laws and Isiolo County
Government is not an exception to this. Unlike the past when Isiolo was County
was both inaccessible and rife with banditry, the road to the Isiolo, through
picturesque Mt. Kenya, is a joy to experience.
The people of Isiolo are extremely hospitable and resilient. They share from their obvious material paucity with humbling abandon. Nonetheless, Isiolo County is in dire need of proper governance and capacity building in legislative development which continues to derail all functions at the county level. One institution which has failed the people of Isiolo is; The County Assembly.
Isiolo County Assembly which is mandated to do oversight on the executive, representation of people and making of County laws have performed miserably due to persistent political patronage by the Executive arm of the county government and deeply entrenched financial malfeasance and impropriety. Simply put, the Assembly is governed like a private retail-kiosk by the Clerk in connivance with the Speaker.
It is clear to all and sundry that nobody is
above the law and Chapter Six of the
Constitution of Kenya 2010 on Leadership
and Integrity is very clear because it was neither written in an Indo-Aryan
language of Gujarati nor Mongolian dialects. Their action or inaction
tantamount to deliberate breach or contravention of the rule of law expected of
a public/state officers. More so, matters of corruption are personal not
tribal. Speaker and Clerk of the County Assembly are state officers by law.
Being Speaker or Clerk does not insulate them from scrutiny or investigation by
relevant government agencies. We do not live in a banana republic.
Article 260 of the Constitution defines Speakers and Clerks of the County Assembly as State officers bound by the Public Officers Act and the law that created Ethics And Anti-Corruption Commission. Nonetheless, both the Speaker and the Clerk of the Assembly have gone bonkers and began throwing tantrums with ill-informed, untrue and baseless claims regarding their accountability and obligation to due process of the law relating to flagrant deep seated corruption they are adversely implicated in by avoiding their cardinal role of checks and balances.
The context of this discourse draws some extraneous and shocking concerns from the office of the Speaker who has perfected the art of intimidating and threatening members of the public and elected officials who are religiously doing their job with zeal and enthusiasm pursuant to provisions of Article 1 and 2 of the Constitution of Kenya which states;
- All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution.
- The people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.
In the fullness of time, this complacency will be vague, colourless and myopic at its best and will be ultimately crashed by the long arm of the law. Their bravado and hubris is hinged on the fact that they are not short of funds to circumvent and buy justice.
To the Speaker and the Clerk, with a hammer everything resembles a nail, it gets weird when the hammer holder is none other than them; a namby-pamby apologist with a bloated ego and alpha narcissism riveted to nonpareil zeal of someone trying to “catch the eye” of their political demigod and masters perhaps to reaffirm their loyalty as if members of the public and elected representative are fools. But that is not a reason enough for them to plunder public resources and disregard the law; they must be watching too much Alice in the wonderlands and boondocks.
One glaring worrying trend is the deliberate diversion of expenditure on development by the Isiolo county Assembly. In the last published report by the Controller of Budget (2017/2018 and 2018/2019), the entire resources of the Assembly was spent on recurrent expenditure, with no monies going to development. There are structural challenges that Assemblies 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 but sad as it may be monies meant for development has been diverted to non-existent services shadowy and shell companies, fake imprest, illegal allowances with no supporting documents for the Speaker and the Clerk.
The County Assembly leaders still engage in marginalization narrative with an unmatched vigour as that prior to devolution. Granted, Isiolo has been marginalized for long and even giving them an extra ten years of devolution will not erase the impact of marginalization if the status quo remains the same. But the cure for marginalization must start with the County Assembly by using the funds it has been allocated innovatively and prudently.
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 and miserable internal control systems and that it cannot stand on its feet and that explains why they fail to do check and balances to other institutions.
We wish to elaborately point out some glaring malpractices solely supervised by the both the Speaker and the Clerk of the County Assembly.
GROSS FINANCIAL IMPROPRIETY
For the last two years, Isiolo County Assembly had been unable to properly maintain their books of account. As a result, the Assembly had received adverse opinion since its inauguration in 2017. The reasons behind qualification of most audit reports vary. Some are related to capacity, or systemic weaknesses, while others are blatant attempts at violating the regulations governing public finance management by the Clerk of the Assembly.
The Isiolo County Assembly has been one rogue institution and operate in an orthodox manner 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. In addition to that, the report was never tabled on the floor of the Assembly.
ASTRONOMICAL ALLOWANCES PAID TO THE CLERK
The Clerk who is also the accounting officer paid himself unexplained allowances devoid of supporting documents. Expenditure of KSh. 8,651,250 under use of unspecified goods and services and reflected in the table with no supporting schedule as shown below.
Consequently, the accuracy and validity of the expenditure totaling KSh. 8,651,250 could not be ascertained. The Clerk paid himself on diverse dates, months and years. Reason for the unexplained expenditure had no supporting documents.
SPEAKER’S UNEXPLAINED ALLOWANCES
The following tabulations shows the unexplained monies paid to the Speaker on diverse dates and months. The unexplained allowances had no supporting documents. Consequently, the accuracy and validity of the expenditure totaling KSh. 4,995,320 could not be ascertained.
Illegal allowances wired to the Speaker through proxies by using support staff attached to his office specifically driver and personal body guard without any supporting documents and schedule. The nature of the allowances has no tacit explanations and as such it must be investigated. Consequently, the accuracy and validity of the expenditure totaling KSh. 4,205,500 could not be ascertained.
|DSA SPEAKERS STAFF|
Isiolo people want to see a lot more action with regard to the enforcement of existing sanctions for the misdemeanors on our public audit regime. And these include debarment, proscribing fines, surcharging and withholding funds from the institutions (County Assembly) and individuals responsible such as the Speaker and the Clerk.
Effective use of the audit reports are the missing bullets in the fight against corruption. In utilising them, the relevant agencies should effectively deal with the perception that the onslaught against corruption is merely a currency for political expediency.
VIOLATION OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT & ASSETS DISPOSAL ACT
Flouting procurement laws and procedures by the County Assembly has led to the disbursement of money to ghost development projects.
During the FY 2017/18, the County Assembly of Isiolo, in its first Supplementary Budget, allocated Ksh. 77,413,932 for construction of new debating chamber and restaurant. In the subsequent Supplementary (Supplementary II), the allocation was revised down to Ksh. 33,500,000. The Ksh. 33.5M was disbursed to the Assembly by June 2018. The Clerk without the necessary approval from the Assembly wired Ksh.33.5M to some firms for alleged provision of car hire services, fuel, imprests etc. His actions were contrary to the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and its attendant regulations.
The procurement process for the works never took place during the FY 2017/18 until FY2018/19, when the assembly allocated Ksh.50M to the project. The procurement processes were undertaken and M/s. Omar Salim and Sons Ltd was awarded the contract to build the new debating chamber and restaurant. The National Treasury released Ksh.50M for the said project by the end of the FY 2018/19. The Clerk made payment of Ksh. 8M (We understand even this was not paid) to the Contractor M/s Omar and Sons Limited and the balance of Ksh. 42M was pocketed by the Clerk through payments to firms for alleged provision of services and imprests for non-existing activities
The Isiolo County 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.
|COMPANIES AWARDED TENDERS/CONTRACTS THROUGH OUT RIGHT VIOLATION OF PROCUREMENT PROCEDURES BY THE ASSEMBLY|
|DATES/MONTHS/YEARS||NAME OF COMPANIES||AMOUNT|
|15-Nov-18||Faismo Link Investment||2,852,068|
|11-Dec-18||Faismo Link Investment||2,600,000|
|15-Nov-18||Mishy Consult Limited||700,000|
|28-Jun-19||Mishy Consult Limited||2,116,617|
|27-Nov-18||Faismo Link Investment||580,000|
|11-Dec-18||Somal Group Limited||2,230,000|
|14-Dec-18||Somal Group Limited||2,130,000|
|24-Jan-19||Tala Mist Limited||3,200,000|
|28-Jun-19||Mushram and General Supplies||1,928,200|
|28-Jun-19||Faismo Link Investment||3,500,000|
|28-Jun-19||Afro Kenya Construction Company||1,376,920|
|28-Jun-19||Snow Ship Limited||2,396,439|
|28-Jun-19||Hudati Enterprise Limited||150,000|
|29-Jun-19||Taiba Construction and Company Limited||4,200,000|
The above companies supplied air to the Assembly as there was no indication of publishing and publicizing contracts awards. The procurement process is tightly controlled by the Clerk and the Speaker. The current holder of the position of Principal Procurement Officer is there for ceremonial purposes as he is not consulted. There is no indication that the Head of procurement did prepare and submit monthly progress reports for all procurement contracts as required by Section 152 of Public Procurement and Assets Disposal (PPAD) Act, 2015. Further, quarterly reports stating compliance with Sections 157(12), (13) (b) and 158(3) containing disaggregated data indicating the number of youth, women and persons with disability whose goods and services have been procured was not provided.
In addition, no documentary evidence was provided to show that the Assembly published and publicized all contract awards on its notice boards and website as required by Section 138(1) of the PPAD Act, 2015 which states that the accounting officer of a procuring entity shall publish and publicize all contract awards on their notice boards at conspicuous places, and website if available, within a period as prescribed.
In these circumstances, the County Assembly was in breach of the law.
PRIVATE SUSPENSE BANK ACCOUNT OPERATED BY THE ASSEMBLY
Strangely Isiolo County Assembly manned and operate an illegal account in private commercial bank where withdrawals are made through cheques by the Clerk. Withdrawals are made in the name of non existence services with no documentary evidence. This is a conduit for siphoning public funds for personal benefits by the Clerk and the Speaker.
|Expenditure for Isiolo County Assembly FY 2018/2019|
|Suspense Account Equity Bank|
The financial statements reflected a cash and cash equivalents balance of KSh.70,845,001. However, cash books, bank reconciliations, bank confirmation certificates and journal vouchers were not presented for audit.
Further, suspense accounts were held in commercial bank contrary to Regulation 82(1) (a) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015 that require such accounts to be held at the Central Bank.
MALPRACTICES AT THE COUNTY ASSEMBLY SERVICE BOARD (ICASB)
The CASB is established under Section 12 of County Government Act 2012, as a body corporate with perpetual succession and seal. It is therefore legally mandated to carry out its duties and responsibilities independently, without being subjected to influence and powers of any individual or other external offices. The above board have legal powers to develop calendar/schedule of its programme and activities in the process of executing mandates and exercising its powers.
The responsibility and other details not mentioned above are provided for in County Government Act ( Amendment) 2012, (Sec.12(7)) and County Assembly Service Board Act 2017 (Sec.11,12,13,17 (2,3,&4) & others as per the provisions within the Act). They are therefore, obliged by the Constitution, County Government Act 2015,County Assembly Service Board Act2 017, Public Ethic Act 2003, Leadership & Integrity Act, 2012, Public Service (Principles & Values) Act 2015, Administration of Justice Act 2012 and other related laws to fully and completely committed to undertake duties and responsibilities as legally mandated.
Section 46 of the County Assembly Service Board Act, 2017 states, Section 12 of the County Governments Act is amended by-
(a) deleting subsection 3 and substituting therefore the following new subsections-
(3) The Board consists of–
(a) the Speaker of the county assembly, as the chairperson;
(b) a vice-chairperson elected by the Board from the members appointed under paragraph (c);
(c) two members of the county assembly nominated by the political parties represented in the county assembly according to their proportion of members in the county assembly; and
(d) one man and one woman appointed by the county assembly from amongst persons who are experienced in public affairs, but are not members of the county assembly.
Currently Isiolo County Assembly Service Board is made up of the following Members:
- Chairman- Hon. Hussein Halakhe Roba (Speaker)
- Hon. Wario Yarrow Hassan- Vice-Chairman
- Hon. Abdi Sora Balla- Member
- Mr. Jirma Ali Molu- Member
- Mrs. Amina Guyo Shunu- Member
- Mr. Salad Boru Guracha- Clerk/Secretary
The two external Members of the Board who are members of the County Asembly, specifically Mr. Jirma Ali and Mrs. Amina Shunu have been snubbed and given wide berth by other Board Members to an extent that they are not called for Board meeting. The last time they attended the County Assembly Service Board meeting was 2nd October, 2018. Their plea to request for the Board meeting fell on deaf ears as the Secretary to the Board who is also doubles up as the Clerk kept the two in the dark for more than a year. The other 4 Board Members had a meeting on 16th April, 2019 in Mombasa and receive the following amount in form of allowances and per diem;
- Hon. Hussein Roba Halakhe- (154,400+350,000)- 504,400/=
- Hon. Wario Yarrow Hassan- (122,000+400,000)- 522,000/=
- Hon. Abdi Sora Balla- (122,000+400,000)- 522,000/=
- Mr. Salad Boru Guracha- (804,000+10,000)- 814,000/=
The other two members were left out owing to the fact the Clerk deliberately declined to invite them. This is how impunity has been systemically entrenched in the administration. Pursuant to the County Assembly Service Board Act, 2017 Section 6 (2) state that:
(c) use the resources of the county conscientiously and combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public resources;
(j) disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest, real or apparent, in connection with the Service;
Devolution has presented an opportunity for Kenya to correct its past misdeeds, if the County Assembly leadership particularly the Clerk does not exploit these opportunities and instead invest their time in unnecessary drama and theatrics, it will be the worst betrayal of a desperate public. Overseeing plunder of public resources and throwing out dissident accountability voices is not only disheartening but also exposing the inept hypocritical leadership of the county Assembly.
The Assembly is accustomed to deep-seated mismanagement, malpractices, malfeasances and fraudulent practices. The current prevailing situation is individual centered management (Speaker & Clerk). The County Assembly Service Board (CASB) which is the top management organ of the Assembly is reeling on death bed.