West Pokot Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo on Tuesday had a difficult time explaining to the Senate Devolution Committee the whereabouts of his deputy, Dr. Nicholas Atudonyang.
Asked to explain why Atudonyang is hardly present in West Pokot, Lonyangapuo emphasised his claims in past media interviews – that Atudonyang, who is a practicing medical doctor in the US, is in the Western nation to look for donors to benefit the people of West Pokot.
“My deputy governor comes [to Kenya] on and off,” Lonyangapuo told the committee.
“He left Kenya for USA in December 2018, and was to return to the country in April 2019. That did not happen because he fell ill,” added the governor.
“He is a practicing neurosurgeon. I am told he is still unwell, though I am not sure if he, indeed, is ailing,” said Lonyangapuo.
The governor says despite Atudonyang’s absence from the county, he is working around the clock to get medical donations from the US.
“The last time he was away for six months, we had agreed that he marshals donors to assist the people of West Pokot. The [medical] equipment that he requested arrived in Kenya in September 2018. After the arrival of the facilities in Kenya, he extended his stay in the US.
“I, thereafter, told him it won’t be possible for him to continue earning a salary as the deputy governor, yet he is hardly in the county. He agreed to forego his salary, beginning September 2018. Even when he travels, he is not facilitated by the county government,” said Lonyangapuo.
Laikipia senator John Kinyua Nderitu chimed in, saying: “Governor, you seem to be comfortable with your deputy’s absence…”
Lonyangapuo responded, saying: “The law says he is my assistant. Actually, given he is not earning any salary from the county coffers, it is like he is offering his services for free… I do not think any Kenyan would do that.”
Nominated senator Rose Nyamunga suggested that the governor “does not have an interest in working with Atudonyang”.
“I think the deputy governor should therefore resign,” said Nyamunga.
Governor Lonyangapuo responded, saying: “I cannot sack him; he has not done anything wrong apart from being absent.
“If you really want to know where he is, the Senate or Parliament [committee members] can take a flight to check on him,” said Lonyangapuo.