Posted by BERNARD MOMANYI on July 30, 2011
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 â€“ Former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae has come out in strong defense of Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri who is accused of misappropriating some Sh4.2 billion shillings meant for Education programmes, saying it is the larger Gusii community which is being targeted.
The Ford People leader claims Prof Ongeri is innocent and has challenged anyone with an audit trail and evidence showing he was at the Ministry when the money was misappropriated to table it.
“The Kisii community must stand behind Prof Ongeri and that does not mean that we condone corruption. There is no evidence whatsoever showing Prof Ongeri was in office at the Ministry when the money was allegedly misappropriated,” the Ford People leader said at a dinner hosted by the Gusii Leaders Forum held at a Nairobi hotel on Friday night.
“For unity purposes, let us stand behind Prof Ongeri,” he added and branded as â€˜hirelings’ activists who have been camping outside the Education Ministry headquarters chanting anti-Ongeri slogans.
“Who does not know that those people camping there are paid to do so? They are not genuine at all,” he added.
Prof Ongeri is accused of failing to account for money meant to fund free primary and secondary education programmes while at the helm of the Ministry which largely relies on donor funding.
Some of the money Prof Ongeri is accused of failing to account are donor funds and the rest are funded by the Treasury.
Prof Ongeri was among leaders and professionals from the Gusii community who attended Friday night’s dinner which was largely seen as a strategic meeting for the community to chat their stance ahead of next year’s polls.
Others were Omingo Magara, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo among others.
Prof Ongeri steered clear of the scandal facing him and instead chose to highlight on the achievements of the ministry.
He said the ministry had installed computers in various schools countrywide to ensure the Kenyan child is well equipped with computer knowledge at the tender age.
“This is something that is being done countrywide. We want to ensure that most schools are equipped with computers, already various schools have got computers including those in Kisii,” he said.
Speeches at the forum were dominated by talk of unity of purpose, with many warning against blindly supporting Presidential candidates or political parties.
“The most important thing is to unite, anything else will follow,” Mr Nyachae said.
With certainty that the community is not fronting any Presidential candidate, most leaders who spoke at the forum warned against what they termed “the Gusii community being misused by others to climb to power.”
Mr Ndemo on his part urged members of the Gusii community to take advantage of the fiber optic and tap opportunities that comes with it to create job opportunities for the youth.
“There is a lot that can be done only if we tap the opportunities of the fiber optic which is all over in the country including Kisii.