Ongwae distances himself from perks Bill

Kisii Governor James Ongwae has distanced himself from a Bill in the local assembly seeking to award him huge retirement perks.

Among other perks, the Bill that has caused uproar proposes a Sh18 million gratuity for the governor and his deputy, along with a Sh5 million send-off for each of the assembly’s 71 MCAs.

The governor, his deputy and other MCAs will also get a four-wheel drive vehicle every four years, along with medical cover for their spouses and children below 21 years of age.

However, Mr Ongwae said he had not been consulted on the Bill, adding the proposals were not in his development agenda.

(READ: Kisii County MCAs approve hefty send-off for governor)

“We are yet to exhaustively discuss the contents of the Bill, especially the contentious provisions that have generated so much heat. I can, however, confirm that I was not party to the drafting of that Bill,” said the governor.

“My mind is still made up on doing what is best for my people. When that Bill comes before me for assent, you can be sure I will do the right thing on behalf of our people,” the governor said.

Deputy Governor Joash Maangi also distanced himself from the Bill, saying it was not in the people’s best interests.

Chitago Borabu Ward MCA Albert Oino who moved the motion, however, insisted that the Bill must be assented to, saying that it was designed to ensure a comfortable retirement for leaders.

“We need to look at the Bill’s bigger picture and stop being overly emotional about our leaders’ right to enjoy a life of dignity and comfort in retirement. Some of our former councillors are suffering and unable to afford even the most basic needs, including healthcare,” said Mr Oino.

He expressed confidence in the Bill being signed into law by the governor, saying the draft could return to the assembly if the governor rejected it.

“In case the governor disagrees with some provisions in the bill, he can always send it back to the house for further debate and amendment. Ultimately, we must pass the Bill in some form because the welfare of our leaders in retirement is something we cannot afford to ignore,” said Mr Oino.

Mr Governor Ongwae has denied claims by contractors that his administration owes them more than Sh 1 billion.

He said some of the contractors had politicized the issue of monies owed to them by the county government.

“We pay these contractors every month based on the allocations we receive from the national government. Currently, we don’t owe anyone any money and if anyone is owed money, then I have not been notified,” said Governor Ongwae.

He cited the case of a contractor who had supplied carpets to a county office, saying she was demanding excess payment for reasons best known to her.

“One of the contractors supplied an office that measures 100 square feet with a carpet for which she was paid the full sum of Sh 450,000 and yet she is demanding Sh 1.6 million. We cannot pay such a ridiculous amount of money for services not delivered,” said the governor.

He asked contractors with outstanding dents to clear the matter with the relevant officers, saying that holding press conferences would not solve the problem.

“Anyone with pending issues should seek for answers and clarification from the county offices instead of rushing to the press to make wild, unsubstantiated claims,” Governor Ongwae said.

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