, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 – Calls have intensified for the sacking of Education Minister Sam Ongeri and Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi over the theft of over Sh100 million for the Free Primary Education programme.
At least six Members of Parliament called for stern action against the ‘big fish’ at Jogoo House, the headquarters of the Ministry of Education. MPs Danson Mungatana and Charles Kilonzo said the two top officials had failed in their capacities to safeguard public resources.
“There is no other explanation other than negligence of the highest order. It is very sad that two professors can fail to notice funds being misappropriated under their watchful eye,” Mr Mungatana who is the MP for Garsen said.
“We do not want to see that the small people only are the ones being prosecuted,” Mr Kilonzo, the Yatta MP asserted. “Nobody is going to take this country serious if we don’t take action against the big fish.”
Joining the two at a press conference, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni threatened that the backbench would petition the Speaker to recall Parliament early to censure Prof Ongeri should he insist to remain in office by mid January.
The lost funds are part of billions of shillings in support of the government’s efforts for free primary education and subsidised secondary education. A report by Britain’s Department for International department (DFID) showed that the monies cannot be accounted for. Despite increasing pressure on the two to step aside to allow investigations, Prof Ongeri on Tuesday dismissed the calls saying he should not be held accountable.
The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is in the middle of investigations into the scam and has promised to release a report by mid January.
An audit report by the Ministry however accuses officials at the Secondary School section of colluding to siphon the money through forged claims at capacity building workshops. The PS, Prof Karega Mutahi suspended 26 officers over the saga three months ago, but legislators are questioning why he left out officers in the basic education unit under whose docket the funds fall.
Separately legislators Nicholas Gumbo and John Mbadi accused senior officers at Jogoo House of diverting attention from the “real culprits and using innocent people scapegoats in the matter.”
“Even most disturbing and suspicious is that the Director of Basic Education under who the FPE falls is not only in office but a key member of the committee ‘purported’ to be investigating the matter,” Mr Gumbo said.
Mr Mbadi added that the Ministry’s accounting system is weak and provides loopholes for graft.