Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri has finally been elected as chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on County Public Accounts and Investment (CPAIC) ending two months of confusion.
In a unanimous vote carried on Thursday, June 25, Marsabit Senator Hargura Godana was elected as the committee vice-chairman.
Senator Hargura replaced Kiambu’s Kimani Wamatangi in the new line-up that will serve for the remainder of the 12th parliament’s term.
The committee oversights the 47 counties’ expenditure, a role equivalent to Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Investment Committee (PIC) of the National Assembly tasked with scrutinizing national government expenditure.
The leadership of the committee has been emotive after Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina was elected chair against the wishes of his sponsoring party, Orange Democratic Movement.
During the initial election to replace Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ whose term ended, Narok’s Ledama ole Kina trounced Ongeri to win the coveted seat.
Kina had five votes against Ongeri’s four.
Kiambu’s Kimani Wamatangi won the deputy chair position after beating his Murang’a counterpart and deputy Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata.
However, Kina’s win was shortly contested by Minority leader James Orengo, saying as ODM they were dissatisfied with the conduct and the outcome of the election and threatened to withdraw their membership from the oversight team.
“I express and register dissatisfaction with the conduct and the outcome of the election of the leadership of the CPAIC which was purportedly done today,” Orengo said in a letter to Speaker Ken Lusaka.
But in protest later, Kina tweeted: “Raila Odinga is on record stating his election has been stolen and I supported him.
In a bid to save himself, Ole Kina moved to court to halt to the process of ejecting him from the seat days after he was elected.
Through lawyer Nelson Havi, Ole Kina sought reprieve from the courts after Siaya Senator and Senate Minority Leader, James Orengo, wrote to the Speaker of the Senate, Kenneth Lusaka, seeking to have Ledama removed from the committee.
In May, the High Court halted the removal of Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina from the powerful Senate Committee but later withdrew the case after mending fences with ODM boss Raila Odinga.
Ledama is now an ordinary member of the 9-member panel.
Others are Fatima Dullo (Isiolo), Ochilo Ayacho (Migori), Johannes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta), Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga) and Irungu Kangata (Murang’a).
Although the Senate Standing Orders do not specify who should chair the oversight committee, it is traditionally chaired by a member from the minority side National Super Alliance coalition.
Ongeri will now be tasked with grilling county chiefs on the expenditure of the 2018-19 financial year as well as governors who failed to appear during the tenure of Senator Moses Kajwang.
Asked what to expect under his leadership, Ongeri said governors should expect tough questions and be ready to offer consistency in fiduciary responsibilities.