Miguna’s Book: Our office was a swamp of graft


Miguna Miguna casts the Prime Minister’s office and the Grand Coalition as a den of corruption where multi-billion-shilling deals are struck behind closed doors and foreign trips used to clinch private business contracts.

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In his new book, Mr Miguna also examines the question of campaign financing, saying foreigners with an eye on clinching government contracts provide hundreds of millions of shillings to presidential candidates.

Peeling back the Mask, Mr Miguna’s account of his time as a senior aide to PM Raila Odinga, has been described as the most explosive book in the country since John Githongo’s revelations on grand corruption within President Kibaki’s circle.

Mr Miguna makes similar claims about the PM. He is especially scathing about the PM’s choice of senior staff, saying many had been linked to graft before being tapped to serve with Mr Odinga.

“I regret now that I didn’t raise more objections when I found out that Raila had appointed Mohammed Isahakia as his campaign manager,” he writes.

“…(Dr Isahakia) has been implicated in a list of alleged corruption (scandals) as long as the River Nile. There are a few court judgments on these.

“I was befuddled. My brief inquiries revealed that Isahakia had served as managing director of the National Museums of Kenya before leaving under a dark cloud of corruption which saw him arraigned in numerous courts for theft, fraud and misappropriation of taxpayers’ money.

“He had then apparently been dismissed twice as a permanent secretary for incompetence under Moi’s government.”

Mr Miguna says two of the PM’s senior aides were involved in negotiations with Chinese officials for the supply of goods to the military worth billions. He links the suspension of military officials in the procurement department last year to the deal.

He offers an insider account of some of the scandals which have dogged Mr Odinga in the last four years, including the maize scam, the Kazi kwa Vijana initiative and questionable management practices at NSSF and NHIF.

He says attempts to draw the PM’s attention to the conduct of some of his senior staff made him unpopular.

“I…continued to challenge the merchants of impunity, again and again. I considered it part of my job to protect public interest. This made me a derided and feared figure in the corridors of power, but it was a price I was prepared to pay.

“I was becoming increasingly frustrated and angry that I had pinned my hopes on Raila and people like (James) Orengo and (Prof Anyang’) Nyong’o. Unfortunately, all of them had gone to bed with the merchants of corruption and looked at me as an irritant.

“What we had fought for during the second liberation was forgotten; it was now ‘our time to eat’. I got reports that Raila, Orengo, Nyong’o and (Otieno) Kajwang’ were jokingly comparing me to the Mau Mau who woke up one day in December 1963 to hear reports that Kenya had obtained independence, but refusing to believe it, chose instead to ‘return to the forest’.”

Anxiety all over his face

The author narrates an account of a meeting with Mr Odinga and the PM’s chief of staff, Mr Caroli Omondi, over allegations some senior staff were involved in the maize scandal. The scam involved the sale of billions of shillings worth of maize meant to cushion the poor.

“(I told the PM that) I have disturbing information, which I believe to be credible — and some of it has been reported in the media already — that it was Caroli who issued verbal instructions to the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) to order the (contaminated) maize, even to enhance its price and then told the managing director of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to release the maize to the domestic market despite serious reports of its contamination.

“Sir, reliable reports indicate that Caroli telephoned (Gideon) Misoi, the NCPB managing director, from our office line…’ Is that true Caroli? Did you call them from our office line?” Raila interjected again, looking at Caroli with anxiety written all over his face.

“Right there, I knew that both Raila and Caroli were privy to those ‘interventions’, otherwise, he wouldn’t and shouldn’t have cared where the calls emanated from. Whether Caroli used the office line or his mobile line or Caroli’s grandmother’s mobile phone didn’t matter, really. What mattered was why Caroli should have been the one giving instructions to the NCPB over contaminated maize.”

Mr Miguna also examines Mr Odinga’s ties with foreign businessmen. He claims an aide was sacked on suspicion of misappropriating campaign funds. He says the former PA brought Sh50 million to Mr Odinga while he had been given Sh200 million by the investor from South Korea.

Mr Miguna reproduces a letter which journalist Sarah Elderkin, a long-time confidante of the PM, wrote to Mr Odinga protesting against Mr Miguna’s suspension.

“You (Mr Odinga) have people around you playing major roles who are irredeemably corrupt. Two of them were suspended earlier and then incomprehensibly reinstated. They were suspended on full pay and benefits.

“Now you have a man who is totally loyal and not involved in your office staff’s blatant, well-known all over town, corruption, yet he is ‘suspended’ without pay and this is activated by one of those whose integrity I wouldn’t trust beyond a yard away from me, someone the whole town talks about.

“Miguna gets no chance to hear and answer allegations? This is against the most basic of labour laws and totally contrary to natural justice.”

Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya, is published by Gilgamesh Africa, London. It will be launched at the InterContinental Hotel, Nairobi, 11am on Saturday, July 14 and will be available in bookshops thereafter.
© Miguna Miguna, 2012











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