A Letter from America


Re: COVID-19 State Millionaires

By Mugo Muchiri, Los Angeles, USA

I’ve just arrived back in Los Angeles from a weekend in Central California. During the 2-1/2 hour road trip, I had the opportunity to listen to the rather shocking and extraordinary investigative exposé by Dennis Okari for NTV. What a well done job! But what a terrible subject to put Omari’s talents to!

There are many jaw dropping revelations in the approximately one hour of delivery. An 8-1/2×11 copy paper might not be enough to enumerate all of its unholy bullet points. But without doubt, the most shocking was the president’s own sister, Samantha Nyokabi Muthama’s piece of doing business with the government, overcharging for medical supplies and making tens of millions of shillings in the process.

For me personally, this is a letdown. It is easy to understand why Kenyans who trust the president fully, and took him at his own word that the fight on corruption was not going to be sympathetic even to his immediate family, would feel rather deflated, and question his real commitment to removing clearly the most terrible scourge from our midst.

Some might say that Nyokabi’s contract was rather small compared with the other much larger and more substantial awards. But that’s not the point. In this day and age that many of us believe Kenya is poised to cut out a cleaner image for itself in the world family, any person with that proximity to the nation’s center of power must simply not be part of the government tendering process.

A president’s immediate family members cannot do business with the government he leads – it’s not done in any civilized society. It is plain immoral because that kind of executive influence percolates through any bureaucratic strictures supposed to ensure a level playing field in procurement.

No government official can be completely impartial when dealing with a party who’s brother transacts from State House. Or from Karen. That is why Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko oversaw the award of an over 200 million tender to Brookside (Kenyatta family diary products firm) for the supply of milk to Nairobi County ECDs.

That’s also why Amaco, the Deputy President’s insurance business got an over Ksh 180 million supply contract to the same county. Moreover, the president cannot be asking Members of Bunge – both MPs and Senators – to desist from conducting anything other than the people’s business when his own family members essentially approach government procurement opportunities with a State House imprimatur.

Mr. President, we love and support you. For some of us, we have chosen not to be doubting Thomases. We didn’t leave a part or percentage of ourselves in the fields of doubt when it comes to the Fight against Graft in Government and outside – we’ve been fully there with you because we trusted that “simu zilizimwa, zilizimwa!”

Therefore do the RIGHT thing. Make a quick reversal of your family’s participation in Government. Do not shoot yourself in the foot. Why damage yourself; why impugn your political capital?

Why strive to add a growing column of Kenyans to that deplorable corner of uncertainty, at a time that you’ve made so plainly clear that all Kenyan hands need to be on deck?

Once bitten, twice shy. What makes it even more disconcerting and distressful is that for the very Mrs. Nyokabi Muthama, this represents a second time. Kenyans have not forgotten the 2013 Ministry of Afya medical mobile clinics tender which at 10 million shillings a unit cost ten times the then market going rate of 1 million.

Kenyans have not forgotten that nothing came of it. Which means, essentially, that this matter will be subject to legal review along with concomitant penal code implications once you’ve vacated office as president, in 2022. For now, it is only appropriate Mr. President that the Nyokabi funds be returned to the Exchequer accompanied by appropriate penalties.

Also importantly, Omari’s story mentioned that a personal assistant to an Opposition leader – the narrative led me to believe it’s Raila Amolo Odinga – also benefited from an even more larger tender award for the supply of PPEs from the same COVID-19 donor pool of dough.

Both you and Raila are expected to lead the nation through the BBI which many of us believe will yield a life-transforming and invigorating new episode of Kenyan Governance. Do not allow strong supporters to begin asking whether this duo fish has started rotting and decomposing from its head. Coz that will surely happen if nothing substantial comes out of this COVID series.

Therefore, both you Statesmen need, as a matter of urgency, to address the deep wrongs that came out of the dark, and exceptionally murky Okari assignment. A man is wounded but help restore his confidence via quick redress.

Move fast to shore yourself up; and your family as well!