BY GOVERNOR’S PRESS UNIT
An interim taskforce shows that Bungoma County government lost Sh19, 400,00 in the scholarship education scheme from 2018 to date.
The education scheme to help bright but needy students was intitiated by the former governor Wycliffe Wangamati to help raise education standards.
However, after taking over from Wangamati, the current governor Ken Lusaka formed the three task forces to oversee the last regimes operations after members of the public raising so many complains.
The interim reports has revealed massive corruption in the pending bills, scholarship and human resource during the last regimes tenure in office.
Lusaka launched the three task forces to look into the three areas where it was believed that money from the public coffers had been misused.
This is after reports indicated that there was massive recruitment of casuals towards the end of elections.
Lusaka also noted that the findings from the Interim Reports from the Task Forces revealed shocking details that shows massive grafts in the three departments.
On the Bungoma Scholarship Fund,
the Task Force reviewed the scholarship program from the year 2018 to date and
sampled beneficiary students drawn from 46 out of a total of 522 schools that have received funding from the program.
The Task Force acknowledged that the scholarship concept was and still remains a noble idea. However, the implementation has been marred with various irregularities.
Lusaka pointed out that the tenure of the Ward Committees which were tasked with the responsibility of identifying beneficiaries had expired but continued being office without appointment or re-appointment letters
He stated that the Ward Committees were unlawfully constituted with several Members of the Executive chairing them, contrary to the law.
“There were anomalies in records of minutes and attendance lists. Instances of hand written names were noted in places like Naitiri / Kabuyefwe, pointing to heavy politicization of the process,” said the county CEO.
He confirmed that the process of identifying the beneficiaries was massively flawed with many undeserving cases being awarded scholarships and deserving cases denied.
“There was also many cases of changes made to the original list of beneficiaries, “he said.
He noted that in the sample of 46 schools, 7 students had been transferred but their former school continued to receive funds
“From the small sample it was established that the County continued to pay fees for 18 students whose parents had paid their fees in full,” said Lusaka
Addresding the press on Thursday at the county headquarters while releasing the interim report from the Taskforces,he stated that the County also continued to pay fees for 11 students, whose fees had been fully paid by other Sponsors.
On ghost students, Lusaka said that the most shocking case is of Ghost Students, over-payments to Schools and Cases of One recipient receiving multiple allocations.
Examples from just six schools highlighted the unexplained anomalies.
For example, the county paid school fees for 521 students at Kibabii High, however only 409 students were present while 119 were missing hence the county government paid Sh4,165,000 which got lost in between.
The County government also lost Sh3,955,00 at Teremi Boys high school where the beneficiaries were 533 but only 420 were found hence the ghost number stood at 113 and each student was getting 35,000.
Lusaka noted that other schools sampled included Bungoma High with 414 beneficiaries while only 326 benefited, while 88 students were missing hence the money lost stood at Sh 3,080,000 if the county was paying Sh35, 000 per student.
Others were Cardinal Otunga Kibabii girls where Sh3,600,000, Moi Girls Kamusinga Sh2,170,000 and Kapsokwony Boys Sh 2,170,000
“If Sh 19,140,000 got lost from the six samples schools then the actual amount possibly misappropriated must run
into the hundreds of millions, when extrapolated,” said Lusaka.
He noted that during the Taskforce head count of beneficiaries, there was a very high number of students who could not be traced and in some instances the schools were not even aware of there existence.
He noted that for example, a total of 62 students could not be traced in Chebukaka Girls Secondary
School and 17 students at Chesamisi Boys.
In Kibuk Girls High School, 39 students were untraceable. And the list continues.
He stated that the use of cheque payments instead of the recommended IFMIS was intentional, which may have created an avenue for abuse of the program which flouted the established laws and procedures.
“Presently, many Cheques remain
Unreconciled, which confirms the suspicion that the County could have lost huge sums of money,” he said.
The Taskforces were gazetted on 19th of September 2022 to assess the implementation of the Bungoma Education Scholarship Fund, establish the status of the human resource and examine the eligibility of the pending bills.
On Human Resource Audit, the Task Force established a number of issues that raise serious concerns.
They included discrepancies in the number of Casuals employed.
“Whereas the Employment and
Labour Relations Court in the ruling on Petition No 1 of 2019 on 13th May, 2020
directed that the 463 Casuals who had filed the case be employed, The County
Public Service Board went ahead and hired over 660 casuals; an excess of 197 persons over and above those directed by the Court order,” said Lusaka.
He stated that the recruitment of Village Administrators was flawed.
He noted that the taskforce requested for copies of the minutes of the different stages of the recruitment process of Village Administrators. None were provided and On further inquiry, the Task force was informed that there were no minutes.
Lusaka pointed out that the Task-force identified the 18 Village Administrators whose names do not appear in the application registers but their names appear last in each of their respective Village shortlists and later appointed and deployed.
“The Task-force identified 2 Village Administrators who were neither in the
Application Register nor shortlist, but they were appointed and deployed. The areas are Hospital Village in Township Ward and Malaha village in Matulo ward, ” he said.
He affirmed that the task-force Identified 2 persons employed who at the date of
employment were under age. The qualification age for this position as per
the advertisement was at least 25years and above. The two persons were
below the age of 25. The two are one from Mukhe village in Misikhu ward
and Korng’otuny village in Chepyuk ward.
He stated that the Task-force identified 26 persons employed who have very suspicious academic papers that require Kenya National Qualification Authority
He said that the Task-force identified 3 persons who did not meet the minimum
academic requirements for the position of Village Administrator.
“The Task-force Identified 33 persons who at the time of employment were
45 years old and above but employed on Permanent and Pensionable terms.
This was contrary to the Public Service Superannuation Scheme Circular,” said Lusaka.
The Task-force also identified 5 persons who presented only photocopies of their
certificates, with police abstracts claiming that the certificates were either
lost or burned.
He noted that the 5 persons should not have been shortlisted in the first
place for failure to have Originals.
The Task force identified 4 persons who presented only transcripts of their
He noted that the Task-force also established that 2 Village Administrators were appointed but never deployed.
On the pending bills report, task force reviewed the pending bills and noted a number of serious issues.
Some of the notable issues included payments for ghost projects.
He stated that the Committee identified payments made for what appeared to be non-existent road projects.
The claims were not supported by any
valid documentary evidence. A case in point is payments made for six road projects that appear to be supported by the same set of photographs as
evidence of works done.
“For examples the availed records for the routine maintenance of Bruno – Namawanga road show that the photos presented were similar to those presented by Boku Ltd for periodic maintenance of roads in Malakisi – Kulisiru ward,” he said.
He said that there was also an Illegal variation of contracts and the contract terms.
The Task Force detected what appears to be a pre-determined scheme to trigger future variations on works, through deliberate understating of requirements at the BQ stage.
“An example of this is in the construction of the dual carriageway where there was a clear attempt to under-state the number of street lights and round-abouts
required, signage and company identity for dual carriage is questionable and this
require in-depth investigation,” said Lusaka.
He also noted that there was contracts content violations with the Committee identifying on-going projects that are
operating outside the contract period.
Lusaka stated that the on-going works on the dual carriageway are going on despite the contract having expired in the month of July 2022 which has not been renewed or extended.
He pointed out the haphazard over commitments and selective payment of pending bills in the dystem, with the total commitments and pending bills is over Ksh. 2.9 billion which is unprecendented.
Lusaka also directed and mandated the Task Forces term be extended for a further 10 days to enable them
conclude and submit their final reports.
He said that the Chief Officers, who have been on compulsory leave, will remain on leave for a further one month to allow for the audits to be completed.
He ordered the County Public Service Board to revoke all letters of appointment for the Village Administrators who did not meet the minimum qualifications, in line with
Section 75 of the County Government Act and after due process.
He directed the county public service board to make public the list of all affected officers as revealed by the Task Force Report.
The County Public Service Board is also directed to advertise and replace those whose letters will have been revoked.
Lusaka ordered the County Attorney to immediately apply for a judicial review regarding the court ruling on the casuals so as to give a basis for determining the bona fide casuals to be absorbed.
He stated that in the meantime the appointment of the list of 660 plus casuals remains suspended.
He called for an immediate Head Count of the County Staff to be conducted to establish the actual number of staff in the County Public Service to be concluded in the next ten days.
He asked The County Public Service Board to provide a comprehensive record of staff establishment, which should include staff number they found in office, the number they have recruited during their tenure, and related documentation such as letter of intent, advertisement and budgetary allocation and avail to my office within two weeks.