Politics

Lenku has lost the moral authority to lead, says Meja

“There is rampant corruption in Kajiado County and the only reason the governor is not talking about it is because he is a beneficiary of the same,” says Meja

After Francis Meja finished his two terms at the helm of the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA), in January 2020, he retreated to his Kibiko home, in Kajiado West, where he planned on minding his business as he contemplated his next move.

Soon, a delegation of elders paid him a visit; they wanted him to come out of retirement and serve his home county with the same zeal he had served the Nation, at NTSA. “They wanted me to come and sort out the mess at the County Government of Kajiado,” Meja told Kajiado Star. “It was a shambles, they told me.”

“I must confess that I was quite taken aback by the elders’ request, for I never, for the life of me, contemplated joining politics,” he added. “I promised them that I would meditate and pray about it and that I would get back to them at the opportune moment.”

After much soul-searching, Meja made up his mind and decided that he would seek the mandate of the voters, to become the next Chief Executive of Kajiado County. The soft-spoken Meja feels that candidature must have rattled the other candidates, who had already declared their interest in the same seat, particularly Governor Joseph ole Lenku.

“It is after I threw my hat in the ring that the governor announced, rather flippantly, that he has ‘fattened’ the governor’s post, hence the reason everyone wants to contest,” said Meja. “It was an unfortunate statement coming from him. On the contrary, my decision to contest is informed by the problem we see in our county; nothing seems to work.”

He expressed frustration that the lion’s share of the county’s sh9 billion annual budget (70 per cent) goes to paying salaries and personal emoluments. Even with the sh2.7 billion that goes into development, he adds, there is nothing to show on the ground.

Another area of concern, for Meja, is revenue collection. “The latest report by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) shows that Kajiado County came in last in terms of revenue collection. Our potential for collecting revenue is very high, yet what is being collected in negligible,” he explained.

It is a shame, he said, that Kajiado is operating on the same level with counties like Mandera, in terms of revenue collection. “Right now the excuse being trotted by the county government is the Covid-19 pandemic. This cannot wash as the KRA has reported increased collections during the same Covid period,” he adds.

“The best Kajiado has ever collected was sh1.1 billion,” he says. “Right now, we are back to collecting sh700 million. My observation is that revenue collection dips during election years as corrupt politicians seek to amass funds for campaign purposes. It is thus anyone’s guess where our money is going.”

He gives a withering assessment of Governor Lenku’s record in office. “All I see is incompetence and a shocking lack of vision. How is it that the current office of the governor has doubled its costs from sh140 million to sh284 million? There is serious inefficiency by this regime,” charges Meja.

To illustrate his point Meja, who is an economist by training, wonders how travel allowances increased to sh331 million, in a year when the whole country was under Covid lockdown and there was virtually no travel! “We have become the laughing stock of this country,” he says. “We cannot be leading for the wrong reasons.”

“There is rampant corruption in Kajiado County and the only reason the governor is not talking about it is because he is a beneficiary of the same,” says Meja, adding that Ole Lenku has lost the moral authority to lead.”

“Why is it that basics like pain killers in our hospitals are lacking. We have our priorities upside down!”

Coming up: How Meja plans to lift Kajiado from the economic mess it finds itself in.

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