Nairobi MCAs attack officials in demand for bursary money

Thursday June 27 2019

Nairobi MCAs block finance CO Halkano Waqo

Nairobi MCAs block Finance and Economic Planning Chief Officer Halkano Waqo (in red tie) from leaving following chaos during a meeting on bursary funds on June 26, 2019. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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A committee sitting at the Nairobi assembly nearly ended in fist fights after MCAs clashed with members of the Executive over delays in the release of bursary funds.

The Education committee had invited Education executive Lucia Mulwa and Finance and Economic Planning Chief Officer Halkano Waqo to explain the delays since 2018.

Incensed by their responses, some MCAs accosted the two officers and blocked them from leaving the meeting room.

Ms Mulwa sneaked out of the room but had to hide under a table. He was later rescued by assembly sergeants.

Mr Waqo was roughed up and slapped on the back by some MCAs after managing to leave the room.

DISCREPANCIES

The chaos was fuelled by the MCAs' realisation that the delay was occasioned by officers in the Finance department, who did not submit some documents to the Controller of Budget (COB).

The documents were required to explain expenditure in the previous financial year before release of funds for the current year.

It also emerged that at least Sh100 million of the funds released in 2018 could not be accounted for, with documents presented by the Executive riddled with massive discrepancies.

While demanding an explanation, Dandora IV MCA Francis Otieno said, “Each ward was to receive Sh3.5 million but your records shows that only Sh3.2 million was released for each of the 85 wards."

Tired of the excuses from the Executive, nominated MCA June Ndegwa asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to launch an investigation.

“At this point we cannot continue asking for responses from an incompetent executive and chief officer. We need solutions. We should invite the DCI to look into this matter,” she said.

NEXT STEPS

Ms Mulwa told the committee chaired by Ziwani/Kariokor MCA Millicent Mugadi that they were still engaging the COB to ensure release of the funds.

Mr Waqo said his department would engage the bank that prints cheques and ask for statements on the amount of money that was transferred.

He said the committee would have been updated by the end of the week.

The Wednesday drama preceded a similar case on Tuesday just before pronouncement of the budget, when a section of MCAs briefly interrupted the process by shouting “bursaries”.

Some walked out while others called for Finance Executive Charles Kerich to address the matter.

SONKO'S EXPLANATION

On April 2, Governor Mike Sonko announced disbursement of Sh400 million for at least 4, 000 bright but needy primary and high school students.

He explained that the delay was occasioned by the need for the COB to verify cheque details.

In 2018, the county disbursed bursaries worth Sh375 million to the 85 wards in the capital city, with each getting Sh3.5 million.

The amount was increased to Sh400 million, including the share for governor’s Scholarship programme which has more than 1,000 beneficiaries.

All top three student from the 2015 primary and 100 secondary schools in Nairobi gets around Sh53, 000 every year.

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