Plan to scrap bursary fund touches off storm in Kisumu

Thursday June 14 2018

Kisumu County Assembly

The Kisumu County Assembly. The recent fights point to emergence of camps in the House. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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Kisumu ward reps have opposed bitterly the proposed move to cut out bursary fund from the upcoming budget in a tiff that has seen fist fights in the House.

On Tuesday, a scuffle at the County Assembly, which led to exchange of blows and firing of shots in the air, only seemed to escalate wrangles that have rocked the lakeside county in recent days.

SH5,000

At the centre of the quarrel is the scholarship financing kitty known as the Ward Bursary Fund.

Created under the former administration of Jack Ranguma, each of the 35 wards has traditionally been allocated about Sh5 million to fund the studies of needy students.

Routinely, poor students get a minimum of Sh5,000 to top up on their school fees.

Now, the Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o's administration has mooted plans to scrap it and allocate the money to other priority areas.

The two MCAs involved in the scuffle maintained that it had nothing to do with the woes at the executive, in reference to a situation where senior officers in Prof Nyong’o’s government were involved in gun fight threats.

The governor has since fired his Chief of Staff Patrick Lumumba Ouya after he allegedly threatened to shoot colleagues.

But the fight between Mr Joachim Oketch (Kondele) and Mr Victor Rogers (Migosi Ward) pointed to major differences that are threatening to split the House into two camps.

On Tuesday afternoon, police shot in the air to stop the two MCAs who were fighting over plans to impeach two county executives in Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o’s Cabinet.

GUNSHOTS

The officers, who usually man the assembly, fired in the air several times to disperse the lawmakers and rowdy youths

Mr Oketch and Mr Rogers came to lows after disagreeing on plans to impeach Finance Executive Nerry Achar and his economic and planning counterpart Richard Ogendo.

Members expressed their anger at Mr Achar for interfering with bursary allocations and threatened to shoot down the 2018/19 budget if that was not changed.

The MCAs are angry over proposals to kill the kitty they have been managing in their wards without consultation and public participation.

Late last week, they faulted the finance department for failing to present quarterly financial reports for scrutiny by the assembly.

“Bursaries have been removed from the 2018-2019 financial year budget and yet counties such as Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia have increased their bursary allocation to more than Sh3 million,” said Mr Kenneth Onyango, the leader of majority.

In his defence, Mr Achar dismissed their claims and said his department was doing everything to ensure that the budget-making is a success.

'EXTREME'

On Tuesday evening, business was stopped in the House as the ward reps threw blows at each other to the amazement of the public.

Notices of motions to impeach the two CECs in the order paper tabled by Mr Gard Olima, the assembly’s chief whip,  sparked the war.

This divided the assembly, with some MCAs supporting and others opposing the motions.

The two motions are not dead as they will be discussed next week.

Mr Oketch maintained that impeaching the CECs was an extreme measure, while his counterpart felt doing so, especially to the two at the same time, was the best way to straighten the executive.

“We agree there are some issues with the budget, but the move by my fellow members is extreme, we can sort it out with Mr Achar amicably,” said Mr Oketch.

He added: “Accusations levelled against CEC Mr Ogendo are also speculations until the police investigations reveal otherwise. Until then, we cannot condemn him unheard.”

Manyatta B MCA Pamela Odhiambo worsened the situation when she told the House that rumors were circulating that the assembly was also planning to impeach Prof Nyong’o.