It has now emerged that Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in the Senate schemed to deny the “preferred candidate” for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) a chance to chair the powerful County Public Accounts and Investments (CPAIC).
During Monday’s election to replace Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang whose term ended, Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina trounced his Kisii counterpart Sam Ongeri to win the coveted seat.
Ole Kina had five votes against Ongeri’s four. Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi won the deputy chair position after beating Muranga Senator and Deputy Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata.
However, Ole Kina’s win was shortly contested by Minority leader James Orengo, who said ODM was dissatisfied with the conduct and the outcome of the election.
“I express and register dissatisfaction with the conduct and the outcome of the election the leadership of the County Public Accounts and Investigations Committee which were purportedly done today,” Orengo wrote in a letter to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
“We intend to withdraw our membership from the said committee until an appropriate resolution can be made,” he added.
But in a quick rejoinder, Ole Kina tweeted: “Raila Odinga is on the record stating that his election has been stolen and I supported him. I was nearly killed in the last Resist Movement! Now, what exactly does this letter mean?
“Are you they trying to steal my chair position! No way! I am a wrong number to mess with!” he told Senator Orengo.
According to sources who spoke in confidence, the Kisii senator was the ODM’s preferred choice to chair the oversight committee with Muranga senator set to be his deputy.
As stipulated in the standing orders, Senator Ongeri was proposed by his Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko and seconded by Taita-Taveta counterpart Johnes Mwaruma.
However, Ole Kina took his colleagues by surprise when he was proposed by nominated Senator Milicent Omanga and seconded by Meru Senator Mithika Lithuri. The duo are DP Ruto’s key supporters.
K24 Digital has reliably been informed that on Sunday, the ODM leader Raila Odinga aware of the intrigues that delay the establishment of the committee, summoned all the four members proposed to sit in the team and struck a deal that they would present Ongeri as the sole candidate for the position.
In attendance were, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed, protagonists Ongeri and Ole Kina, Senators Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta).
At the meeting, the sources further indicated that Raila prevailed on Ayacko who was “the popular candidate for the seat” to drop his candidature in favour of the veteran politician for the sake of regional balance.
Majority of Jubilee senators had thrown their weight behind Ochillo owing to his sterling record as a parastatal chair and Cabinet Minister.
‘Teach Raila a lesson’
Though, Ochillo reluctantly relinquished his candidature his colleague Ole Kina vowed to teach Raila’s party a lesson.
The Narok senator reached out to his Jubilee colleagues who including Senators Mithika Linturi (Meru), Hargura Godana (Marsabit), Wamatangi Kimani (Kiambu) and Millicent Omanga (nominated).
The five senators are close allies of DP Ruto and were the same team that tried to rescue former Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu during his impeachment motion.
According to the deal, the DP allies were to vote for Ole Kina as chair, and he would in turn vote for Kiambu senator as his vice, a word they both kept and won.
During the voting process, Meru senator warned his colleagues not to vote for Muranga senator, who is perceived to be President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ally and key support of March 9 handshake and BBI.
“This man Senator Kang’ata has struck a deal with ODM, he should not be voted for deputy chair, he should lose this seat to Wamatangi,” said Senator Linturi.
Muranga Senator voted for Ongeri as chair alongside the ODM senators.
In an interview on Tuesday, Senators Mithika Lithuri and Milicent Omanga have denied any politics in the election of the CPAIC chair and his deputy.
Linturi maintained that committees are supposed to elect their own chairs and vice-chairs but the 12th Parliament has been captured by the executive to inhibit proper accountability.
In particular, the Meru senator accused Raila of influencing the choice of the person to be elected chair, saying that the members initially wanted Ochillo but when he stepped down, Ledama was a natural fit.
“Parliament has been captured by the Executive and that is what Raila is doing to dictate to us who should be the chair or not. Our preference was Ochillo but when he stepped down after intimidation, we felt that Ledama was more vibrant,” Linturi said on Tuesday.
On his part, Omanga was categorical that the committee needed a young and vibrant member who also understands issues.
Omanga argued that contrary to reports emerging that it was a ‘Tanga Tanga’ coup, the membership felt that Ongeri is old and will not keep up with the pace of the committee’s expectations.
“This committee needed a young person who is vibrant and can fish out county chiefs embezzling public resources. We did not want a person who is likely to shield governors from accountability. This is not a ‘Tanga Tanga’ issue,” she said.