Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki spent Sh19.42 million of county funds to buy himself an official car – a Land Cruiser VX – in a clear case of blatant misuse of public funds. This is according to the latest audit report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko.
And in blatant disregard of the law, contracts worth Sh3.8 billion were dished out to suppliers who were not prequalified by the county executive.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act of 2015 requires an accounting officer to conduct a prequalification procedure prior to adopting an alternative procurement method other than the open tender.
The millions spent on the governor’s car are enough to build about 40 permanent classrooms for the many pupils learning under unfavourable conditions in the county, assuming that the cost of one classroom is Sh500,000.
The amount is also enough to connect a good number of households in the county to clean water. The money can also stock dispensaries with medicine and other requirements.
But Mr Ouko’s report for the year ending June 30, 2018 depicts a case of impunity in the administration of public resources by the county government headed by Mr Njuki.
According to Mr Ouko, registration number GVN013B, was procured from a car dealer under contract number SB/012/2017 just a few months after the governor was elected in the August 8, 2017 General Election.
Curiously, the report further notes that the fuel guzzler has an engine capacity of 4,500cc, which is outside the government contract recommended engine capacity for state and public officers and is contrary to the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations.
The regulations state that official vehicles purchased for use by governors shall not exceed 2600cc for saloon cars and 3000cc for 4 by 4 utility vehicles.
“In the circumstances, the county government is in breach of the law,” Mr Ouko says.
The audit report was tabled in the Senate last week and immediately committed to County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC).
The watchdog committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’, has the responsibility to consider the report by way of summoning the governor and his executive committee members and report to the House.
Those found culpable of misusing county funds by the committee are likely to be recommended for prosecution.
The committee is also likely to recommend further investigations by the respective government agencies like the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in areas where it feels specialised inquiry is required.
The revelations of the blatant misuse of public funds comes at a time when the national government is facing challenges raising revenue.
The failure by the Kenya Revenue Authority to hit the right revenue targets has seen equitable allocation to county governments from the national government slashed to Sh310 billion in the next financial year ,down from Sh314 billion in the current financial year.