NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 – He cut a figure different from the cock sure Political Scientist – not analyst as he’s know to belabor – who coined the now engrained phrase ‘tyranny of numbers’.
So much so that he even took a Bible with him when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday to explain a Sh12 million overpayment from National Youth Service funds.
The Bible, Mutahi Ngunyi told the Members of Parliament, was his mother’s; a Kikuyu version from which she’d read to him.
The act of using it in taking an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he said, was akin to swearing by her grave.
An indication of his good faith, he sought to impress on the legislators, given some of what he was about to testify to, they would have to take on faith as it was communicated not in writing but orally.
For example, that it was former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru who personally engaged the services of his think tank The Consulting House in restructuring the NYS and later told him, “it’s not your job to fight corruption,” when he raised the concern that there was, “something fishy,” going on.
“My consultants told me that there’s something fishy going on here. There’s money being lost in this particular situation and I requested that we be allowed to move in and deal with this situation but we were told categorically that your job at NYS is not to fight corruption.”
But why then, the MPs sought to know, didn’t the Political Scientist — known for vocally expressing his views – sound the alarm? His response, he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. “I couldn’t shout about it.”
And it is these corrupting forces, Ngunyi told the MPs he believes, that sought to rope him in as an accomplice by, “maliciously sneaking,” the Sh11.875 million to be exact, into his company’s accounts.
“It passed 25 IFMIS stages undetected. Was this an error? Our thinking is that it was too elaborate an error. We can only infer malice on the part of NYS and an attempt to subvert and tarnish our restructuring efforts… At NYS corruption does not fight back, corruption corrupts back.”
Ngunyi told the MPs that he initially thought that payment came from another client given there were no pending payments for the work done on the NYS and only discovered the true source after the Auditor General brought it to their attention triggering an internal audit.
“I was very harsh on the Auditor General actually when this came out and I said this is malpractice on his part. I went and I sat with our lawyers and they told me but you know you need to do a forensic audit.”
The MPs were however not convinced by this explanation questioning why TCH didn’t just ascertain the origin of the funds from their bankers.
The company, he said, had however wired back the funds; only yesterday.
“The question I know you want to ask is why did it take so long to wire the money, the PS (Public Service and Youth Lillian Mbogo Omollo) when she appeared before you told you that they had written to us three times. I think you should cite her for perjury because that’s a lie. And then she said after writing to us we never responded, that’s another lie. The letter she wrote to us (in August) gave us details of where we should wire the money and we told her we had received the letter but we’re seeking legal counsel and we are also doing due diligence.”
Ngunyi who described himself as the ‘Chief Surgeon’ of NYS’s restructuring, also expressed shock at the amounts those who were engaged to implement TCH’s recommendations ended up minting.
“After I saw how much money people made, and they made this money from an idea that we originated, I was completely shocked. In fact my wife told me I’m very dumb because I could have asked for more. If you look for instance the media and publicity budgets, there were up to Sh1 billion plus and everything they were implementing was our own thinking yet we charged Sh90 million and the Auditor General said it was reasonable. He did not question the whole question of value for money. The only thing he questioned was the Sh12 million.”
And he expressed concern that the cartels his company had focused on dismantling, were re-emerging.
“We were fought and in many instances we did not even want to eat from their canteen because we did not trust them… They have all regrouped and my biggest fear on that honourable chair is that if those cartels regroup, they will make 791 look like a Sunday School picnic.”
His assertion that his company was engaged in dismantling corruption cartels, ODM Chair John Mbadi felt, was in dissonance with his testimony that Waiguru told him to mind his business and not stick his nose in corruption matters.
Towards the tail end of his three hour interview, Ngunyi volunteered to again swear on his mother’s Bible that he did not know Josephine Kabura who, in an affidavit, implicated him as one among master conspirators of a scheme to siphon NYS funds. Once again referring to her as a, “fascinating creature,” whom he intended to sue.
His final verdict being that however much he made from providing services to the NYS, it wasn’t worth the trouble that it caused him and his company by extension.