Vihiga officials used bursary money for airtime, say MCAs

Vihiga governor Wilber Ottichilo
Vihiga governor Wilber Ottichilo at a past meeting. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Vihiga government has been hit by fresh claims of scandal after it turned out officials may have misdirected bursary money to phone airtime and other privileges.

The claims are contained in a report presented by the ad-hoc committee of the assembly which led to the censure of Education CEC Felistus Okumu.

On March 15, the department of administration and coordination of county affairs wrote to the education desk seeking Sh3.6 million to facilitate 25 ward administrators working on a bursary fund.

The Sh3.6 million was part of a Sh200 million bursary kitty. The assembly cited Ms Okumu for presiding over alleged misappropriation of funds when MCAs adopted a report on the administration of the bursary kitty on Wednesday. Presented by Nominated MCA Stanley Khasiera, they said Ms Okumu is unfit to hold office.

Of the Sh3.6 million, ward administrators got Sh125,000 as airtime allowance and another Sh325,000 for refreshments during planning meetings, says the report. Another Sh500,000 was budgeted for public participation on bursary while Sh725,000 was paid out to bursary committee members as allowances.

Mr Khasiera, who chaired the ad-hoc committee, said his team was informed that the Sh3.6 million was distributed among the ward administrators. At the time, Mr Khasiera said, the immediate former Education chief officer Moses Andagalu declined to appear before the committee.

"Fellow MCAs, all this was happening under the watch of the Education minister, Madam Felistus Okumu, who did nothing to stop the acts and save the kitty," said Mr Khasiera.

On April 25, bursary fund manager Mercyline Mmbone gave out another Sh1.1 million bursary money to the finance department to spend on the fifth devolution conference in Kakamega County, it said.

Needy students, the assembly was told, did not fully benefit from the fund, leading to calls for impeachment of Ms Okumu.

The assembly now wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate Mr Andagalu for the period he was the Education chief officer. Ms Okumu denied knowledge of any embezzlement.

"I learnt of misuse of the funds when I heard cries from the county assembly," she said.

Claims of misappropriation of public funds have rocked Governor Wilber Ottichilo's administration recently.

A week ago, two executives - Alfred Indeche (Finance) and Marita Agufana (Sports) - were impeached for transferring Sh18.8 million into a private mobile account upon the expiry of the 2017/18 financial year.