Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has found himself in the eye of a political storm triggered by some rather bizarre budget lines discovered in the county government’s audited books.
The offensive budget lines, made public during the governor’s appearance before the Senate’s watchdog Public Accounts Committee over a week ago, include hundreds of millions of shillings purportedly allocated for coordination of State House activities and the South Sudan peace initiative.
Mr Waititu told the watchdog committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang that the entries were most probably a national government template error.
Going by the reactions of demonstrators in the streets of Thika town and the mostly dismissive comments in the media, it is fair to conclude that Baba Yao’s explanation hasn’t won him many sympathisers, at least not publicly.
Reports of widespread corruption in the counties, and prosecution of sitting and former governors over graft, have greatly poisoned the public perception of the county bosses’ integrity.
The odds are even stacked against them when it is the Auditor-General office’s word against theirs.
The office has earned significant public confidence with some of its bold reports in the past and its perceived independence.
But it would also be interesting to know how much Mr Waititu’s public persona has contributed to his latest credibility problems.
The Kiambu governor is so often the butt of jokes, with social media memes mostly depicting him as a clown, given to making some of the most ridiculously hilarious statements.
His remarks sometime back suggesting that the authorities should have diverted the course of a river instead of bringing down Nairobi buildings illegally constructed on riparian land, made him the laughing stock of the so-called SANY demolition era.
As Embakasi MP, Mr Waititu would occasionally take the law in his own hands while leading his constituents to recover public land illegally grabbed by notorious private developers.
A popular TV footage showed him chasing away suspected land grabbers and then throwing a stone at them. Baba Yao’s tenure as Kiambu county boss seems to be throwing up more political storm than fun and drama so far.
Apart from a video clip showing him inspecting a guard of honour mounted by a regiment of rehabilitated former drunkards, we haven’t hard enough to really crack us up.
Even the storm over the bizarre budget lines is likely to fizzle out without much drama, if the reports that they aren’t part of the expenditure the Controller of Budget approved anyway.
Reports that eight more counties — Kitui, Kakamega, Garissa, Kirinyaga, Kwale, Lamu, Nyamira and Samburu — had similar allocations for national government functions in their financial statements for the year 2017/18 suggest that the problem lies elsewhere.
I’m willing to play the devil’s advocate on this one as well: the investigation requested by the Council of Governors will most likely vindicate the new no-drama Baba Yao.