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Stalled education bursaries creates divisions in Nairobi County Assembly

According to the most recent Hansard reports, Nairobi City County Assembly was plunged into a confused tower of babel following lack of bursaries in the financial year 2018/2019.

Construction of extra floors on old buildings

On 2nd July, 2019 the house business started on a high note with discussions and concerns about “controversial approvals and permits for construction of extra storeys to old buildings.” Members were concerned about the safety of the tenants and members of the public who visited the old houses under construction which was contrary to advice given by the National Construction Authority (NCA) to stop those construction works.

Members cited buildings such as Kenya House- a commercial property along Koinange Street in Nairobi Central Business District.

The Members of County Assembly accused the developer at the property of repeatedly defying National Construction Authority’s orders to stop the renovations dated November 21st, 2018.

The MCAs were saddened by the fact that some county officials were issuing approvals against clear warning by relevant agencies such as NCA. The expansions are claimed to pose danger to the residents.

To show the seriousness of this issue, Hon. Peter Imwatok said the following in the County Assembly:

 “Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response by the member who is also my Minority Leader on the same but I wanted to implore upon the leader that this statement is very pertinent because the construction is still going on and it is just across here on Koinange Street whereby every floor is being drilled literally to provide pillars to go up until the last floor and the occupants of this building are undergoing a challenge and the contractor is too arrogant. By the time it reached my desk, the contractor was told and I don’t know how this contractor in particular after even the stop orders by the court has not stopped the construction. I wish it could be done as soon as possible to avert a calamity which might come up within the CBD.”

Issue of education bursaries

A lot of blame game was going on in the Nairobi County Assembly on the issue of education bursaries. The blames were flying around the house but did not find a suitable place to land. The Controller of budget, Education Committee, the Chief Officer and the CEC for Education among others remain possible suspects who should be blamed.

I believe leaders should not dwell on the blame. They should go right ahead and look for a solution.

“We want to know the issues that are delaying bursaries for the Financial Year 2018/19. Claim has it that there was a problem of the Finical Year 2017/18. These two have no relationship at all. They have no relationship at all. The only relationship is the name bursary, but they are of two financial years and they have been accounted for. So, for now, this House is in confusion. We don’t know who to lay blame on, but by Thursday, we want to assure this House that we will be pointing at the culprit and take the necessary action,” said Peter Imwatok during the debate.

We must stop looking for the people to blame. Instead our leaders should identify whoever misappropriated the funds if any and drag them before a court of law. I also know that a fund is different from the ordinary budget considering that any amount of money which is allocated to it is never swept into the County Revenue Fund (CRF). That is the consolation. Therefore, I hope that if the bursary funds were not distributed, then they ought to be intact in the Bursary Fund account.

We hope the portion of education bursaries will be bigger in FY 2019/2020 considering that it was not touched in the previous financial year.

Claims of misappropriation of funds

Hon. Peter Imwatok said that “I am aware that there is an internal audit and investigation taking place in the executive until 2013 on the issuance of bursaries. Hon. Speaker, I would implore the Chair and the committees who were given assignment to do this, because the controller of budget was given information from the executive not to issue these bursaries until she confirms that about 90 or 100 million shillings was lost.”

Bursaries is a bait to entice voters  

As members of the public, we now confirm what we have always known that politicians at the county use bursaries as a bait to trap us into voting for them.

“Some of the Members have never visited their wards since their election and now they want to go back to their wards through these bursaries. Therefore, let them have these bursaries because I know some of them will be making noises and they will not be re-elected again. Like the one here who is making a lot of noise and he calls himself morefire and I do not know what is firing what. He is the one who has encouraged the Members to go out; he should go to Senate where he will get his own age mate.” Said Hon. Elias Okumu.

Now what remains blurry is why do elected leaders such as Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and even Members of Parliament run away from their constituents immediately after being elected. Are citizens a thorn on their flesh or what is happening here?

Possible Government shutdown

Now that MCAs are not happy with the way education bursary has been handled, they may be planning to shutdown government business. The same style United States Congress and Senate shut-down Donald Trump’s government.

“What we are saying if the Chair of Budget by having called the Controller of budget and we do not get a comprehensive answer we are going to stall government business. Hope you are aware that we have not passed the budget we have just passed the estimates. Therefore, I know the hands and levels we can use to the stall government.”  

Threats and intimidation

The Hansard report indicated that one senior county official had expressed his own concerns about safety and demanded to be given security in order to appear before the committee.

“This is the Chief Officer of Finance and he has claimed that he will not be able to attend any meeting until you assure him of his security. That only unlikely person has not confirmed attendance tomorrow God willing the Chief Finance Officer.”

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