Lucky Ababu ‘pulls all stops’ to survive PAC ouster motion
The goose had appeared all cooked for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Ababu Tawfiq Namwamba as he walked into the committee meeting yesterday morning to face hostile colleagues, but he apparently pulled a fast one to survive against all odds.
It has now emerged that the Budalang’i MP pulled all stops—in his party ODM and inside the PAC—to cling to the chairmanship by just one ballot in a no-confidence vote against him. Thirteen MPs voted against while nine were in his favour, to miss the axe by just one vote that would have made the fatal 14 required for his ouster.
The one vote less came by way of abstinence by his key nemesis, and vice chairperson, Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes MP). Despite having been at the front of lobbying to kick out Ababu, Mbarire was surprisingly missing in action, leaving the chairman to survive by a whisker. Intrigues and behind-the-scene lobbying are said to have led to Mbarire’s abstention and the change of heart by some ODM legislators who voted for Ababu despite earlier having castigated him.
Mbarire later in the evening sent a mobile phone text message to some of her Jubilee colleagues in PAC that read: “Guys, I have let you guys down. I am sorry I did so, but my woman nature took over. I am willing to voluntarily step down as VC.”
She did not explain why she had abstained and it was not clear why the matter was that weighty for her to want to resign. PAC members had been expected to unseat the chairman with a decisive vote, but insiders in the committee told the People Daily things changed when Ababu flashed his first survival weapon by tabling printed evidence implicating four other committee members involved in corrupt deals, including one of the contenders to his position.
The MP is said to have dropped papers showing bank deposits made into accounts of four of his accusers, which sent the meeting into uproar. Sources said the situation in the committee room became so heated, with members almost coming to blows, prompting the Sergeant-at-Arms to send in parliamentary orderlies to restore calm.
“It was at this juncture that some of the members who had ganged up against him started coming to Ababu’s side,” said one MP, noting that argument became hot on why the chairman should be punished alone while the others he had named—three from Jubilee and one from Cord—had also ‘eaten’.
Ababu accused them of being beneficiaries of kickbacks from the former Internal Security ministry, whose top officials were being probed over the misuse of billions of shillings.
The ODM secretary general is said to have also been partly helped by the intervention of his party leader, Raila Odinga, who reportedly called some MPs in the committee and pleaded with them to spare the chairman.
Raila, who is in Lesotho, was understood to have phoned two ODM MPs Junet Mohammed (Migori) and John Mbadi (Suba) and asked them to mobilise the party on the committee to side with the chairman. Junet was seen to keep dashing out of the committee room several times to answer his phone.
Nominated MP Andrew Mwadime (ODM) also abstained, while Stephen Manoti (Ford People, Bobasi) was out of the country. Addressing the media after the meeting, a joyful Ababu said he was pleased that he had been vindicated by the members of the grave allegations levelled against him.
“I am as clean as snow, and I am inviting the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director Public Prosecutions to introduce any investigation and I will be ready to cooperate,” he said. “I can say that I have gone through a trying one week.
My name has been dragged through the mud, my character has been massacred by a person out to gain from the confusion,” he added. A top official from Cord had featured during the meeting as being behind the move to have the chairman removed.
Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga had expressed interest in Ababu’s seat but later changed his mind at the last minute and voted for the chairman. The parliamentary watchdog has been rocked by claims that some of its members have been taking bribes to doctor some of its investigative reports.