, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – The war of words over the free education scandal continues unabated after Prime Minister Raila Odinga made fresh calls to Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri and his Permanent Secretary Mutahi Karega to resign.
Speaking during the launch of the Equity Group-Mastercard Foundation Scholarship on Monday, Mr Odinga maintained his previous stand that the top officials resign to pave way for investigation saying stepping down would not indicate guilt but rather the true spirit of good governance.
“One time there was a train accident in India which killed very many people; it may have been a mechanical problem or the driver’s fault but the transport minister in India resigned. And so all I am trying to say is that there have been very serious allegations on this Free Primary Fund so I told my friend and minister and Permanent Secretary to step down and allow for investigations,” he said amidst applause.
Mr Odinga who was accompanied by Prof Ongeri and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta was also quick to add that he did not have a personal vendetta against any of the top officials at the Ministry as alleged by some.
“The professor is a personal friend but this I would do even with my own brother and with my own wife. That is the best way to create a proper culture of anti corruption in our country. Investigation cannot be carried out when we begin by saying ‘those are the ones guilty’. You begin by suspecting everybody and then you go by way of elimination. That way you can say so and so was not involved (and therefore should) get back,” he said.
The PM added that it was critical for Kenya to regain its former glory of being a corrupt free State adding that transparency at all levels was inevitable.
“Whenever Transparency International releases its report, Kenya is in the league of the giants of the world as far as corruption is concerned. It has gone from an amateur to a professional playing in leagues together with DR Congo, Nigeria and even Pakistan. This is a league that we don’t belong to and we want to get out of that league,” he said.
The Premier further opined that the incessant impunity and fraud scandals in Kenya were ruining the country’s global image.
“Kenya might not be as corrupt as people portray out there but sometimes it is a matter of perception. We are expected to prepare our children to compete in the global economy and so we need radical changes in the management of our education system; changes that will hold communities administrators, teachers, parents and students accountable,” he said.
The Premiere also added that Kenya’s national aspiration was dependent on education further emphasising the need to create accountability and transparency with the management of education funds.
“Vision 2030 is anchored on three pillars; economic, social and political. Today we are addressing the social pillar- education. In the Vision we have said we would like to create a society where every Kenyan child regardless of his or her social background has access to quality education,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta, who made his address before the Premier, however took a neutral position on the scandal saying, “We need to fight corruption but the fight against corruption cannot be won by a war of words but rather by clear, coherent, consistent and constant strategy aimed at institutionalizing our capacity to fight corruption.”
Prof Ongeri lauded the efforts by the government so far in funding education in the country. He said that all information and details regarding financial allocations from the government to the education sector through the ministry were available online. This he said would help answer questions that the public might have.
“We will post this information on our website so that every Kenyan can access it because sometimes it is the gap of information that leads to some of the things that might not be very supportive to the education sector,” he said.