Raila in a fix over audit of Cord counties
Odinga has made anti-corruption his 2017 election centrepiece but is defending Cord governors against Auditor General findings that they misused public cash
Opposition chief Raila Odinga is walking a tightrope.
The former Prime Minister is grappling with accusations that he attacks the Jubilee administration for corruption but defends Cord governors whose spending of public funds is in question.
Selective condemnation and an apparent double standard threaten to crash his long political career.
The Auditor General’s explosive 2014-15 report has put on the spot governors across the political divide over massive irregular spending.
Raila has vigorously supported Cord governors while making state corruption the cornerstone and mantra of his presidential campaign.
To maintain his credibility and presidential ambitions he must strike a balance between sustaining his anti-graft momentum and ensuring friendly governors are not destroyed.
Raila has been under intense pressure from Jubilee honchos and church leaders to publicly condemn county graft.
Political analyst Herman Manyora yesterday said Raila must tread carefully so he can continue “lighting up the corruption fire rather than putting it out”.
Manyora, from the University of Nairobi, told the Star Raila is walking a tightrope between building his army to consolidate his strongholds and taking the anti-graft battle to the next level as a central campaign theme.
“There is an unfortunate reality in Kenyan politics — the same generals Raila wants in the war are also engaged in graft,” he says.
Governors and Raila’s defenders say not so.
On Wednesday Raila sought to exonerate Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi from an alleged Sh1 billion heist. The county says Sh51 million, not Sh1.1 billion, was stolen and wired into accounts of five Nairobi-based companies on September 29.
Raila flew to Kilifi where he heaped blame on the Integrated Financial Management System, Ifmis, the Treasury’s online payment platform. He said counties from his strongholds are victims of its loopholes. He cited Homa Bay, Siaya, Nairobi and Kakamega.
Painting Kingi as a corruption fighter, Raila said, “Governor Kingi and his government have not sought to spread the blame and pass the buck. They have not sought excuses by saying who else is suspected of corruption where,” Raila told the press in Kilifi.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale on Wednesday sensationally claimed Raila was on the payroll of counties led by ODM governors who finance his travels.
He said he had proof of payments, including Sh20 million for Raila to attend last year’s swearing-in of Tanzanian President John Magufuli.
“I am ready to appear before the Senate and Raila Odinga must appear before the Senate,” Duale told journalists. “I’ll only speak to you if Odinga does.”
Yesterday, three governors dismissed Jubilee claims Raila benefits from misappropriations.
Okoth Obado (Migori), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) called Duale’s allegations baseless and corruption claims unfounded.
“Raila having championed devolution, it is in his best interest that devolution succeeds, unlike the Jubilee government that persistently has frustrated devolution,” Ranguma said.
However, yesterday Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale (Ford Kenya) warned Raila there should be no double standard in fighting massive county corruption.
He urged Raila to condemn “rampant graft being perpetuated by the Kakamega county government without mincing words” when he meets today with ODM delegates from Western Kenya.
“I welcome Raila in Kakamega and thank him for breaking his silence on corruption in Kilifi. As I told him, he must break his silence on the collapse of Bukhungu Stadium and the stagemanaged stealing of computers in procurement in Kakamega,” Khalwale said.
Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire yesterday defended the Cord leader against claims of shielding corrupt governors.
The ODM national Treasurer said the presidential duel will focus on Jubilee’s failure to tackle runaway graft mutating into a “cancerous catastrophe”.
“The election will be won on the battlefront of corruption. I commend the Prime Minister for taking the war on graft to the doorstep of the perpetrators,” he said.
He denied Raila’s anti-graft war was strategically selective. “Corruption knows not party alliance. Our vision as Cord is to wipe out corruption. The party leader is not favouring Cord or Jubilee,” he said.
However, Manyora says Raila, just like President Uhuru Kenyatta, has found himself in a precarious situation.
“You find the same people we ask Raila or Uhuru to deal with firmly are the same people they need to win the election,” he said.
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses a press conference on Capitol Hill, Nairobi, yesterday.