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How I survived Embu fights – Wambora

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Embu Governor Martin Wambora has seen it all. He has braved a baptism by fire and came out without a scar. He is perhaps the master of political survival or as others say, he has the proverbial nine lives of a cat. Some have cheekily remarked he should start a mentorship programme: How to survive vicious poll petition and unrelenting impeachment proceedings.

“I don’t know whether to call it nine lives. They could be more. My daughter, Mukami Wambora [citizen TV journalist] has counted 19 challenges I have encountered. And there are others in the civil service she doesn’t know,” Wambora says laughing.

In any case, Wambora is a student of the late powerful Internal Security Minister Hezekiah Oyugi whom he served as Personal Assistant. In his own words, Oyugi taught him two things: administration and toughness.

The Embu Houdini was impeached twice in 2014 by the County Assembly. The first impeachment proceedings were endorsed by the Senate when MPs overwhelmingly voted to send him packing.

Read: Embu Governor Martin Wambora impeached

At one time, Wambora’s political life appeared to be on the line. The courts, his usual last line of defence, ruled that he should stay away from office. 

And yes, Wambora stayed away from his office for a record two months, before the same court gave him back his job.

After he secured his second term win in 2017, then began a protracted legal duel with his political nemesis, former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti. The election had been close. Wambora beat Kivuti by a paltry 985 votes. The legal battle which began in the High Court stretched for 16 months. Kivuti won the first round when Wambora’s election was nullified by the High Court in February last year. However, he would have the last laugh when the Court of Appeal overturned that decision.

Wambora was to give Kivuti a final staggering political blow after the Supreme Court upheld his victory last week.

“We found no basis upon which to interfere with the appellate court’s decision. The appeal is hereby dismissed,” Justice Mohammed Ibrahim ruled last week, giving Wambora what appeared to be his final triumph over his detractors.

In an exclusive interview with the Star, the astute, but soft-spoken Governor, opened up about his political troubles and how he has survived the past six years.

“My Bishop, Bishop Kariuki asked, how come you have not had any health complications? I told him prayers, prayers, prayers. And also, the understanding that I am with the voters,” Wambora said.

According to the county chief, his impeachment was orchestrated by looters who were scheming to fleece county resources.

“I use to hear people swearing that they only need 90 days to make Sh100 million,” Wambora recalled. “With that kind of talk, how can you leave your people to suffer? There was no way I was going to leave.”

Asked whether he contemplating quitting at some point, he thundered emphatically: “neveeer”.

In his view, an elective position bestows on the leader huge public expectations, easily throwing up the towel amounts to cowardice and hopeless surrender.

“No way! I would never be remembered for anything… I would not leave the seat. It will never happen. I will be disfranchising my own people. To imagine that I will leave my people in the hand of looters, that gave me the strength of a lion,” he told the Star.

Senators wanted to use him as the sacrificial lamb in a bid to tame governors, he says of his troubles in his first term.

“And I could not allow myself to be used as a guinea pig. To be the victim because of battles between governors and senators. And I told the President as much and the deputy president. Even the speaker of the Senate. They will have a big fight with me because I would not accept,” he told the Star.

Read also: Election victory for Wambora as High Court ruling set aside

“The people who wanted to remove me are poor leaders. If it was a better person, I would not mind. But if I knew it’s a leader who just wants power, prestige and to access resources, I could not leave wananchi to the lions, to the carnivores to be torn apart,” he says

He recalled that after his impeachment, many politicians including then TNA chairman, Johnson Sakaja, called to ask him to hang up his political boots. But he told them all off.

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“I did not care who is going to ring me. Anybody who tried I told off. Hii kiti si ya mama yako (this seat doesn’t belong to your mum).This seat belongs to wananchi.”

The tussle for the control of the county was so vicious Wambora says then Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and ex-Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Lenku separately warned him about his security.

The warning made Wambora, a veteran provincial administrator, to live a secretive and unpredictable life.

“They told me Governor be careful. Don’t always be in your house. Be careful where you eat,” he recalled the chilling warning. “I have been security chairman as District Commissioner for Baringo so I knew the realities and what they were speaking about,”

“You avoid night meetings, completely. Don’t announce your route of travel. Just appear in a place and do what you are going to do and move on.”

But he admits the impeachment periods was a difficult time.

His lowest moment was when the courts barred him from going to his office for a record two months. His wife and children remained his pillars of strength.

“They would tell me dad don’t worry, you know you are a good person. You are the best dad. We know you are honest. We have not seen anything you have taken from the public,” the father of two girls and two boys told the Star

According to Wambora, millions set aside for the tarmacking of the 12.7km Kibogo Road, which cuts through the most productive areas of Embu, was diverted at the time.

He says the money was shared by greedy MCAs and some unscrupulous county government staff under the guise of grading roads.

Wambora was impeached for allegedly for violating the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and Regulations 2013, the Public Finance and Management Act and the Constitution.

But Wambora, a graduate of economics and political science from Makerere University and MBA from Hartford University, US, says he has procurement laws at his fingertips.

“One thing I was sure of, because of my training, I am not able to do something which is against procurement act.  Let alone the fact that I don’t procure,” he told the Star.

Wambora vows that he has not stolen a penny from the public purse.

When he was chairman of the Kenya Airports Authority, there was an attempt to bribe him with Sh100 million during the construction of the Green Field terminal at JKIA

“I was not happy with the tender because it was fast-tracked. Done in a way that I was not comfortable with. I said No. I fired the MD, a good friend of mine whom I had encouraged to apply for the job,” Wambora says.

“I was offered one million dollars. I refused.  Nonsense! …I can’t live with it. Conscience Baba! Conscience!” Wambora says proudly

He also says he never took nor asked for a penny from retired President Moi when he was DC in Baringo.

“The reason why he [Moi] instructed his son, Senator Gideon to protect me is that he could not believe the stories.  A lot of money passed through my hands and I would account for every cent for all the harambee projects. So when I am being accused of funny things, the former President couldn’t believe them,”

He, however, says he always warn accounting officers that he will not defend them if they break procurement laws.

“Those who do I did not renew their term. Others I took to places where there is no money. So they [MCAs and Senators] could not catch me there,” he stated

Looking back, Wabora says he has no regrets.

His impeachment battle in the courts, he says has strengthened the governors from frivolous attempts to remove them from office.

“It’s now not possible to keep a governor out of office even when his case is ongoing. At least that consoles me. We have raised the threshold of impeaching an executive governor,” he says.

See more: Wambora’s nine lives: Supreme Court upholds his election

But Wambora, a strong proponent of the constitutional amendment, says the powers of MCAs must be kept in check.

He said the Council of Governors already have a committee on the referendum and reducing the powers of MCAs and increasing academic qualification requirements are among their considerations.

He says amending the law to increase allocation to the counties is another critical consideration to the governors.

“Why do you give billions to the Ministry of Health yet they only have three referral hospitals? thousands of hospitals and health workers are in the counties,” he said.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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