, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 4 – Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Margaret Kobia has suspended the payment of pending bills totaling to Sh5.6 billion owed by the National Youth Service (NYS) to pave way for verification of the claims.
Kobia has also announced radical changes at the youth agency which include the deployment of a fresh crop of procurement officers to work under the newly appointed Director-General Matilda Sakwa in renewed efforts to fight graft at NYS.
The new measures announced on Wednesday when the CS unveiled Sakwa at the NYS headquarters on Thika Road will also see all procurement officers under investigations suspended with those not currently under probe reassigned different roles.
“We’re not saying that the officers are going to be stepping aside but we want to give the new DG a new team. They can be assigned other areas within the institution, but they will not be doing procurement,” she told journalists.
Kobia vowed to institute reforms that will ensure public funds allocated to NYS are not looted, promising that loss of funds will not happen under her watch.
“We want to undertake that there shall be no other scandal reported at the service,” she said flanked by Sakwa, and Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Chief Administrative Officer Rachel Shebesh.
The ministry also announced plans to undertake fresh prequalification of suppliers in line with procurement procedures to ascertain conformity.
Further, Kobia said the ministry will embark on a review of the legal framework to instill a culture of corporate governance at the NYS.
The ministry will also be seeking to automate procurement to dismantle deep-rooted corruption.
In her acceptance speech, Sakwa who prior to her appointment to head the NYS served as the Machakos County Commissioner said she was determined to redeem the image of the scandal-tainted agency.
“The only thing we get to hear about NYS is corruption in procurement. I want to assure that I will work with my team to steer this organization to greater heights,” she said.
Speaking to Capital FM News on Tuesday when news of her appointment broke, Sakwa had said she was keen on reforming the governance structure of NYS adding she will not be held captive by corrupt individuals.
“It is a tough job judging from the history. People have gone there to loot but I do not have that appetite,” she said.
“My vision is to ensure NYS reclaims its lost glory. NYS should be a place where we nature our youth and that is the only way this country can move forward,” she added.
Sakwa will be taking over from Richard Ndubai – the immediate former NYS boss who is facing prosecution alongside Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Omollo and 40 other officials and suppliers.
Ndubai and Omollo denied conspiring to defraud the taxpayer by approving the Sh468 million payments to 10 companies when they appeared in court on May 29.
Ndubai and Omollo were later in June granted an application seeking their release on bail, with Justice Hedwig Ong’undi setting the terms at Sh5 million for each of then in addition to a cash bail of Sh1 million and a surety of Sh2 million.