How Controller of Budget was pressured to approve KES 15B spending days to elections

Controller of Budget, Margaret Nyakang’o, has testified before the Parliamentary Public Petitions Committee, alleging that she was coerced to sign off on KES 15 billion, just four days before the 2022 general election.

Nyakang’o claims that the funds were approved despite her reservations and went into people’s pockets.

According to Nyakang’o, the Treasury pressured her to approve a series of payments, including three tranches of  KES 9.95 billion to the State Department for Infrastructure and a KES 6.01 billion deal in which the Treasury acquired a 60% stake in Telkom Kenya from Helios Investment Partners, a UK-based private equity fund, on August 5, 2022.

The Controller of Budget presented WhatsApp messages exchanged between her and then Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yatani, to demonstrate the coercion that took place.

In the messages, Yatani requested Nyakang’o to approve amounts of KES 8 billion for the Infrastructure Ministry and KES 2 billion for the Office of the President on August 4, 2022.

 Yatani asks, “ Please facilitate similar approvals for the infrastructure ministry for amounts of KES 8 billion and KES 2 billion.”  

At 3:33pm on the same day, Yatani wrote to Nyakang’o this time threatening a call from President Uhuru Kenyatta. He wrote, “HE (His Excellency) might even call you if we don’t deal with this by 4 pm.”  

When Nyakang’o asked if she had only 26 minutes to complete the process, Yatani threatened to have President Uhuru Kenyatta call her if they did not deal with it by 4 pm that day.

Nyakang’o asked, “Are you saying we have 26 minutes to complete the process?”  

To which Yatani said, he had just received a call from the former president and assured him that Nyakang’o had promised to deal with the matter by the end of the day.   

Yatani added, “I know he will call again. He promised some guys to resume work and promised that their bills be settled by today.”  

Nyakang’o responded by saying she was out of the office, but Yatani insisted she finds a way to deal with the matter. Yatani promised that the bills would be settled that day, adding that “some guys” would resume work.

“You need to devise how to deal with it. I am sorry but try,” he wrote.   

Asked why she could not say ‘No’ to the alleged coercion, Nyakang’o told the committee “it is not a black-and-white, yes-and-no” situation.

“There are very many things that we have to weigh before you arrive at that decision. But what I am saying is that there are loopholes that need to be assessed and my office needs to be protected,” she said.

These revelations come after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua claimed that KES 16 billion of taxpayers’ money, including funds meant to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, was stolen by senior government officials days before the Kenya Kwanza administration took over power.

Gachagua alleged that the money was ferried in cartons from Wilson airport to individuals’ homes.

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