The Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs ministry is on the spot over failure to pay a group of young people allowances amounting to Sh8 million for conferences they attended two years ago.
The 476 youth were supposed to be paid Sh8,104,976 for attending six two-day regional meetings, where they gave their views on the draft National Youth Empowerment Strategy (NYES) paper.
The forums were held on various dates between November and December 2015.
"The KYEP (Kenya Youth Empowerment Programme) will meet the cost of full board accommodation, conference facilities and eight return air tickets for Kisumu/Mombasa," a letter dated August 26, 2015, and addressed to Mr Peter Mangiti, who was the Devolution Principal Secretary at the time, says.
The project was funded by the World Bank to the tune of Sh10 million as part of its long-running programme to empower the youth and, hopefully, give them a bigger say in national matters.
A total of 77 youth from Nairobi, central Kenya and eastern Kenya attended the meetings at the Kenya School of Government (KSG) in Nairobi on November 12 and 13, 2015, and were to be paid Sh1,411,256.
The 63 from eastern Kenya met at the KSG in Embu from December 8 to 9, 2015, and were to be paid Sh1,425,060; while 77 of their colleagues from western Kenya and Nyanza met at Kisumu Hotel between November 19 and 20, 2015, and were to be paid Sh1,719,400.
A total of 91 participants from Rift Valley met at the ARC Hotel in Egerton, Nakuru, between December 1 and 2 and were to be paid Sh1,501,500.
Between November 26 and 27, 2015, 63 youth met at the North Coast Beach Hotel that is owned by Kenyatta University and were to be paid Sh1,551,760.
Finally, 105 individuals who included the youth, development partners and stakeholders attended a national forum at the KSG in Nairobi on December 11, 2015, and were to be paid Sh336,000.
The participants were to be reimbursed their transport costs and given a small stipend.
However, none of the youth who attended the conferences has been paid so far.
"We were told by the organisers that the money would be sent to us through M-Pesa," Ms Frida Machila, who attended the conference at the Kenyatta University hotel in North Coast, said.
She said she used Sh1,800 to travel from her home in Mwatate, Taita-Taveta County, to the venue.
"It was good that I gave my views at the conference but we shouldn’t have been promised money that would not come," she said.
Efforts by the Nation to get comment from Public Service, Youth and Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki did not yield results as she did not pick up calls nor respond to text messages.
However, Ms Lydia Mathia, an adviser to CS Sicily Kariuki on youth affairs, said the failure to pay the participants on time was due to a transition in the ministry following the resignation of Devolution CS Anne Waiguru, PS Mangiti and other top officials on November 2015 over the National Youth Service scandal in which Sh791 million was lost through fraudulent tendering.
"I am aware that the PS (Ms Lilian Omolo) has written to the concerned officers to account for what happened," Ms Mathia said.
"We are awaiting their responses."
Mr Simon Mwangi, who was the acting director of NYES when the conferences took place, declined to respond to queries by the Nation on what might have happened to the money.
Mr Gaddaffi Isiavale, the chairman of the Youth Third Force, a young people’s lobby, said he brought the matter to the attention of Ms Kariuki three months ago.
"I got a response last week indicating that the PS had directed the director of youth to find out what happened to our allowances," Mr Isiavale said.
"But I think they are moving slowly."
When reached by phone, the director of youth, Ms Florence Muinde, said she is new in the department and does not have much information on the matter.
"I suggest you talk to the guys who were in charge at the time."