Cord co-principal Raila Odinga on Wednesday defended Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi on corruption allegations, painting him as a model fighter against the vice whom President Uhuru Kenyatta should emulate.
Mr Odinga has been under intense pressure from the ruling Jubilee Party and the Church to condemn Governor Kingi’s administration for the loss of a reported Sh1 billion but which the county puts at Sh51 million.
But on Wednesday, he said unlike President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in past instances, Mr Kingi took the fight to the suspects’ doorstep and did not resort to a blame game.
“Governor Kingi and his government have not sought to spread the blame and pass the buck,” Mr Odinga said in a 1,525-word statement in praise of the coastal county boss. “They have not sought excuses by saying who else is suspected of corruption where.”
State House however hit back immediately, saying the sentiments were that of “hunting with the hounds and running with the hares”. It said: “His current confusion and double standards betray a deep conflict of interests that strongly suggests complicity in graft.
“There is no option to accept, tolerate or defend some acts of corruption while condemning others.”
The Orange Democratic Movement leader read the statement in Mombasa flanked by Mr Kingi and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Ali Joho, as well as a host of Members of Parliament.
“The governor and his team have not lamented about lack of powers to fight corruption and theft,” said Mr Odinga. “Instead, they have relied on the agencies that are controlled by, and are at the disposal of the national government, to get to the bottom of the scam.”
In a short statement sent Wednesday evening, State House said: “To Mr Odinga, the war against corruption is just politics. He wants it prosecuted on a political platform and that explains his latest statements.”
According to Mr Odinga, the governor took five decisive steps, including firing 10 officials and writing to the relevant agencies to stop the graft. This, he said, was an exemplary show that could not be said of President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto.
Mr Odinga has consistently faulted the approach taken by President Kenyatta to deal with the Sh5.2 billion audit queries in the Ministry of Health, the Sh1.2 billion theft at the National Youth Service (NYS) and audit queries of the Sh250 billion Eurobond proceeds.
“I want to challenge President Kenyatta to borrow a leaf from the County Government of Kilifi, especially with regard to the shameful scandal at Afya House,” said Mr Odinga, reiterating that the President was either unable or unwilling to fight graft.
State House faulted Mr Odinga’s “double standards” in addressing graft as a sign of his “complicity” but Mr Odinga said he would serve well his anti-graft stance if he remained “consistent and even-handed”.
And in Parliament, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale led Jubilee leaders in sensationally claiming that Mr Odinga was on the payroll of counties led by ODM-elected governors, who pay for his travels.
He said he had proof of the payments, among them Sh20 million for the former Prime Minister to attend last year’s swearing-in of Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli.
“I am ready to appear before the Senate, and Raila Odinga must appear before the Senate,” Mr Duale told journalists. “I’ll only speak to you if Odinga does.”
Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro, Mr Mustapha Idi (Kilifi South) and nominated Senator Emma Mbura told the Press at City Mall, Nyali, that it was shocking the Cord leader could go to the Coast to defend corruption.
“We are aware of double payments that have been done to some companies and Mr Kingi knows this,” said Mr Mung’aro, who has vowed to unseat the governor in next year’s General Election. “What we are saying is that investigations should be carried out the over Sh1 billion alleged to have been misappropriated.”
By Patrick Lang’at, John Ngirachu, Isaac Ongiri and Gitonga Marete