The utter shock and flabbergast over The Treasury’s request for Shs.700 million “for the purchase of building to house an office for retired President Mwai Kibaki…” is only be superseded by Mr. Francis Kimemia’s response/comment during a phone conversation with the Daily Nation on the subject. President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet is quoted as saying that he thought the reporter “would say that the Sh700 million is too little…”
Publically stating that seven hundred million shillings or $8.5 million is not sufficient to secure an “office” for an ex-president who is also one of the country’s richest men is akin to telling average and poor Kenyans to “eat cake”. If ever there was a public personality in today’s Kenya that was tone-deaf and completely clueless on the nuances of public relations not to mention the public’s perceptions, Francis Kimemia would be that individual. The man epitomizes arrogance, flippancy and poor administrative skills. The only thing more scary but would not be entirely surprising would be if Mr. Kimemia’s actions are at the behest of his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta or reflect his desires!
The Shs.700million office building proposed for the retired octogenarian is in addition to the following farewell gifts:
- A residence in Mweiga, Nyeri complete with an office wing; allegedly his retirement home.
- A petrol station courtesy of the National Oil Corporation,
- Four fish ponds from the Fisheries ministry,
- An aquarium – Huh? The four fishponds are not enouh?
- Two dairy cows,
- Four Boran bulls. As a lover of mbuzi, kondoo na kuku, I am offended that no one offered the fore-going livestock in addition to the bovines.
- A borehole to be sunk in Mweiga by the National Youth Service.
- A library to be established by University of Nairobi at the former president’s home. One wonders which home!
- A copy of each of the books published by the same university – in English or Swahili?
- 10. And a partridge in a pear tree!! Okay this one is a joke but I could not resist.
Man things have certainly changed since the days of a golden watch, a potluck and an out-of-tune round of “for-he-is-a-jolly-good-fellow” when one retired!
Added to the fore-going list that rivals the one compiled by the Three Wise Men who travelled from the east bearing gifts for Baby Jesus, the package put forth by the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act also entitles the retired president to Sh195,000 in monthly fuel allowances or 15 per cent of his last salary of Sh1.3 million a month and a house allowance of Sh299,000, not to mention the lump sum payment of one year’s salary per term served or the equivalent of at least Sh25.2 million!
The listed cart of goodies does not even take into account the wealth Mr. Emilio Kibaki has accumulated over the years, especially after independence. The former president was among the lucky few who helped themselves to more than their share of “matundu ya uhuru” during the corrupt 60s & 70s and the sycophantic 80s and 90s when he was the MP of Bahati, Othaya, Permanent Secretary/Minister for Finance & Economic Planning and Vice President respectively.
Mr. Kibaki then spent the five (5) years between 2002-2013 as the Big Man or president who “toshad” as in “Kibaki Tosha” and was supposed to rescue Kenya from the scourge that was Daniel Arap Moi’s quarter century reign of terror. One word, albeit hyphenated and an acronym summarize Mr. Kibaki’s two terms in office: Anglo-Leasing and PEV. During his first term in office, the trained economist presided over one of the largest scandals in Kenya’s unchallenged history of corruption scandals. Anglo-Leasing, as the scandal was referred cost the country an estimated Kshs. 3billion. The scandal also touched the innermost sanctums of ‘Baba Jimmy’s” administration and tarnished his staff including very senior members such as Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria and Chris Murungaru. Mr. Kibaki’s second term in office inauspiciously started off with a dusk time swearing-in ceremony attended by a posse of sycophants even as the country was erupting into tribal violence protesting the rigged election results. It is the violence after the elections of 2007 that give birth to the acronym PEV – post-election violence.
The one ray of hope to emerge from this blatant attempt at fleecing the public coffers albeit legally is the intervention of the National Assembly’s Budget Committee whose members rejected the request. I say “ray of hope” because the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Mr. Mutava Musyimi told the Treasury “to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options ‘affordable’ to the taxpayer”: A Pyrrhic victory if ever there was one because it gives Mr. Kimemia and his band of accountants and lawyers another crack at weaseling the Shs. 0.7billion from the public who already took it on the chin thanks to the first “digital” budget!
Even more perplexing is the fact that Mr. Kibaki, the so-called “urbane and sophisticated gentleman of Kenyan politics” and recipient of the basket of goodies has not been heard from on the propriety and probity of such lavish goods amidst the belt-tightening and poverty in the country. Similarly, his successor Mr. Kenyatta has been noticeably quiet on the subject of his predecessor’s gravy train even as his Cabinet Secretary stumbles and bumbles from one scandal to another and his Finance Minister asks Kenyans to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill in his just announced 2013 budget, a bill that seeks to impose a 16 per cent tax on basic commodities including sifted maize flour, sanitary towels, newspapers, journals and periodicals, rice, wheat flour, bread, computers and computer software, and processed milk.
I hate to sound like a broken record but choices have consequences and try as the jubilant supporters may, the consequences of their choice of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fast becoming apparent and not in the most-positive of ways.