, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – President Uhuru Kenyatta will not be travelling to Nigeria for the swearing-in of Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State following media reports that he would be accompanied by a delegation of over 80 civil servants.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho however denied the reports describing the list of civil servants making the rounds as fake.
“Just look at those names. Does Chinedu Odii sound Kenyan to you? How about Lawal Tiyamiu? Let me ask you an easier one, how about Happiness Ikanyon?” Kibicho defended.
He however declined to state what the correct position was and joining the choir, accused the Kenyan media of being unpatriotic.
“Even if it were true that the President were travelling with that many people, why would the media publish the names of those in his security detail. I’m the PS in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even I don’t know who will be in Obama’s delegation. Is the safety of our president any less important?” he posed.
Deputy President William Ruto will now represent the Kenyan government at Buhari’s swearing-in ceremony, taking with him a maximum delegation of 10 people according to sources.
Given Kenya’s view of the West African nation as the new frontier, it was seen as a high priority trip for President Kenyatta to make; having received the outgoing Nigerian president Jonathan Goodluck with a 21-gun-salute when he visited Kenya in September 2013.
The Opposition had already taken the Executive to task over the reports of the President taking a bloated delegation with him to Nigeria with Deputy Minority Leader in the National Assembly Jakoyo Midiwo calling on President Kenyatta at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast to take corrective action.
On a day which President Kenyatta called on political leaders not to preach water and drink wine, Midiwo argued that the national government would have come off as hypocritical had the size of the delegation not been cut down.
“If I say that it is wrong for my Governor to budget Sh12 million on tea, it is also wrong for the President to burn fuel on Air Force One to Nigeria with 84 people. Those are civil servants who should really be working, not wasting tax payer money,” he opined.
The national government has in the past come down hard on county governments for not prudently managing public resources by going for trips abroad in unnecessarily large groups of what could be described as joy riders.