Bungoma county has since 2013 persistently remained in the news most times for the wrong reasons. The key player has been Governor Kenneth Lusaka who has presided over the county.
The saga of the infamous Sh1 million wheel barrows which Lusaka came out defending only to turn around and pretend that he was a whistleblower who had unearthed a criminal act among his own officers is the most blatant theft of public money seen since the inception of devolution. Lusaka has been accused of a litany of misdeeds through which billions of Bungoma people’s share of taxpayers funds from the treasury have either been stolen, squandered and or literally misused.
The Bungoma county government under the stewardship of Governor Kenneth Lusaka has been involved in several nefarious activities through which the governor and his close associates have continuously enriched themselves at the expense of the poverty stricken masses in this county. The following are just but some of the questionable illicit deals which the Kenneth Lusaka administration has been involved in and which he must explain to Bungoma voters to justify his quest for another five year term of office.
It is public knowledge in the county government circles that all services offered by the county are done by companies and firms associated with high ranking county officials. A case in point is that of cleaning services whereby despite the county hiring casuals and purchasing tracks to undertake day-to-day cleaning, at the same time, they went ahead to engage the services of other companies to do the same thing in. Tender number 154 of 2014.
The above notwithstanding, the county tender committee thereafter came up with two different evaluation reports in which one report had 27 companies as pre-qualified while the other had 41 companies. Both the chief administration officer and the county secretary who should be in the know flatly denied involvement setting the stage for looting of county funds by Lusaka’s friends and associates under unexplained circumstances.
Like many other cases of skewed procurement schemes in play at the Bungoma county government, millions of shillings were set aside for the purchase of ambulances but out of greed, second-hand vehicles were purchased from Dubai and locally modified in an attempt to make them suitable or acceptable on Kenyan roads. This was however, outrightly rejected by the public works vehicle inspection unit which declared the said them unsuitable to be deployed as ambulances on Kenyan.
A further Sh300,000 was paid to Red Cross to train drivers although no single driver was trained for the same. The matter was taken to the county assembly but it now seems members of the Bungoma county assembly were compromised as nothing came out of it.
Sh3 million was set aside to install YFI to connect and enable communication between Governor Lusaka, the deputy governor and the chief officer for administration at the lodgings where they all reside in Webuye town. At this this point, it is worth mentioning that it is unfortunate that Governor Lusaka, his deputy and other key officials in his administration all being residents of the county have chosen to avoid their homes only to live in lodgings also known as guest houses owned by the now defunct Pan African Paper Mills remaned Rai Paper Mills at Webuye. As for the YFI, contractor was paid Sh3million but to date nothing has been done.
Bungoma county purchased a milk cooler which was installed at Kitinda Dairy one of the supposed flagship projects for Lusaka during his 2013 election campaign. An additional Sh3 million was then set aside for reviving the borehole at Kitinda but no such borehole was revived while the Kitinda people were later treated to a shock to learn that even the Sh3 million for the cooler has been stolen instead of paying for the cooler. The suppliers of the cooler are now threatening to repose the cooler. For beginners, Kitinda Dairy was among the projects Lusaka went around the whole county promising to be the pillar on which he would have used to reengineer the ailing dairy dndustry in Bungoma. Nothing like that ever happened during his ending tenure except for the looting spree which he presided over.
To date, the Bungoma county government has pumped over Sh100 million in the so called Chwele Chicken Project in which Governor Kenneth Lusaka with his accomplices at the county siphoned public funds into their pockets. The irony is that although the project was initially a private undertaking in the name of Kuku Bora, Governor Kenneth Lusaka took it up for unexplained reasons and what followed thereafter was a gravy train for get rich quick Lusaka operatives who have enriched themselves at the expense of the rural poor whom the governor pretended he was keen to help through the project.
The misfortunes that have been visited upon Bungoma people by the crooked Kenneth Lusaka administration have a lot to with the style and mannerism of Lusaka as a person. And as the English would say if you want to know the real character of a human being look at the company of people his keeps and walks around with.
In his administration the chief officer David Kibiti for public administration, his chief executive for public works Stephen Nendela, and chief finance officer in the ministry Chrispinus Barasa are people whose actions have raised serious doubt on their real intention in the county.
It is no longer a secret that together with governor Kenneth Lusaka the above four have been responsible for siphoning millions of shillings from Bungoma county public accounts to their private accounts and the expense of taxpayers of Bungoma county.
Nendela alone has siphoned over Sh700million in a litany of under hand schemes while an apparently innocent sounding clerk Lilian Namukhasi had over Sh300 million banked on her private account. A man said to be an ex-councillor got in trouble when Sh300 million was banked on his account without his knowledge and when resisted attempts to have the money refunded he became a casuality during the recent after IEBC nomination violence in Bungoma town.
Since the attainment of independence, the single largest investiment by the government of Kenya has been the recently sold Pan African Paper Mills aptly renamed Rai Paper Mills by those generally believed to be the new owners of the once largest paper manufacturing plant in Africa South of the Sahara. Rough estimated value of Panpaper was put at Sh18 billion this including the actual factory, buildings and land in
Apart from the people of Bungoma as a whole, the decision to dispose the paper mills at a paltry throw away price of Sh900 million was indeed a rude shock and slap in the face of the residents of Webuye town particularly Wazee of Batecho clan who were persuaded by Masinde Muliro to surrender their ancestral land for the construction of the factory. It is also a matter of irony that Lusaka a Mutecho by clan himself could look aside by failing to raise any objection to the unfair decision by the government to throw the people of Bungoma under the Bus in the Panpaper sale
To make matters worse, Kenneth Lusaka used county government funds to launch and commission the now renamed Rai Paper Mills at the expense of the same Bungoma people who were robbed of the factory under suspicious circumstances. In a nutshell Lusaka had the courage and audacity to preside and hand over the valued asset.
Governor Kenneth Lusaka has on a number of occasions violated the constitution and abused his oath of office. He has in several incidents assumed the powers of the county’s public service board by hiring and firing staff, moves that have made the public service board a mere rubberstamp. Cases in point were those of the former Tourism minister one Theresa Nakhungu whom the court had to dismiss following intervention by the civil society. Other employees hired illegally by Lusaka under similar circumstance are Julius Bakasa a former chairman of the defunct Bungoma county council .
Perhaps the greatest violation was Lusaka’s decision to create the position of Deputy county secretary which does not exist anywhere in the constitution. As Lusaka’s circus continues unabated he has surprised the public in in Bungoma by frequently complaining that the reason he cannot spare funds of development is that much of the money is dedicated to salaries and wages as a result of the bloated staff which his administration took over from the defunct Local Authorities in the county.
As a result of the above illegal actions civil rights groups have petitioned a number of constitutional bodies like the ombudsman – commission on administration of justice whereby numerous complaints have been but most of those case remain in limbo while the Kenneth Lusaka administration to continues to break the law with impunity.