NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Five Members of Parliament from the Orange Democratic Movement have defended Prime Minister Raila Odinga over alleged misappropriation of funds meant for youth empowerment under the Kazi kwa Vijana initiative saying it is a political witch-hunt.
The MPs led by Rarieda legislator Nicholas Gumbo said line ministries should take political responsibility and not the PM who is the supervisor of ministries.
“That function does not entail execution and that is why when Anglo-Leasing happened no one asked the President to resign, it was the line ministers that were asked to resign. So why do you want to ask him (Odinga) and the responsibility of execution lies in the Ministries of Environment, Forestry, Water and all the other ministries?,” he said.
MPs Pollyns Ochieng (Nyakach) and Benjamin Washiali (Mumias) called for patience until the World Bank finalises investigations into the loss of an estimated Sh900 million disbursed to the project.
“This amount was actually used to fuel government vehicles that were used to supervise this project. That is where the World Bank lays claim that they never authorized the government to use the Sh900 million to fuel vehicles. They said their money was to go direct to the projects and this is what some people are trying to hype so much,” Ochieng said.
Leaders of the G7 political grouping have called on Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resign after a World Bank report implicated officials in his office for misusing funds meant for the Kazi kwa Vijana project.
At the same time, Migori MP John Pesa urged rivals against politicising the issue.
“This is one area that I would want the high level of government; the VP, PM and the President, their words are very important to sway Kenyans into any direction, so whatever statement they make to Kenyans it must be well researched,” said the Migori MP.
“We have to rely on the actually audit by the relevant government arm and that’s the audit that we want to see; those people that are involved should been held responsible for whatever loss Kenyans have incurred.”
The World Bank has cancelled the Sh4.3 billion project after an external audit revealed that officials at the Office of the Prime Minister had misappropriated the funds.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni had over the weekend asked the Prime Minister to step aside over the misappropriation of Sh4.3 billion earmarked for the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme.
Kioni said the Prime Minister must pave way for investigations.
He said the PM who has been calling for resignation of fellow ministers whose dockets have been rocked by similar scams must lead by example and step aside.
Speaking on Sunday at Ndemi Secondary school in Kipipiri District of Nyandarua County, the legislator vowed to table the issue in Parliament to pressure the Prime Minister to resign.
“The PM has all along been a vocal champion for integrity. Can he lead by example and step aside immediately so that this matter can be investigated? We want the Prime Minister to take political responsibility until he is cleared in a credible process,” said Kioni.
He said the KKV programme was just a conduit of siphoning public funds which end up in the pockets of a few individuals.
He urged the government to come up with a clear policy that would address the issue of unemployment among the youth once and for all.
The World Bank now wants a refund of the money spent so far.
Tax payers will be expected to foot the bill once the full extent of the losses is revealed.
The bank had offered a grant of Sh4.3 billion (US$43 million) to support the project which aims to reduce the vulnerability of unemployed youth by offering a line of income for participation in infrastructure projects.
About 190,000 youths were supposed to have benefited from the latest phase of the initiative which was expected to have been significantly expanded due to the financing from international aid agencies.
But a World Bank financial management review found that millions of shillings meant for young Kenyans had instead been paid to a number of senior officials in the PM’s office in contravention of the agreement between the bank and the government and in breach of procurement procedures.
The review identified a number of officials in the PM’s office who had spent up to Sh37.5 million on seminars which never took place; illegal allowances and payments to companies for services which do not appear to have been rendered.