Deputy President William Ruto and more than 20 Jubilee legislators yesterday came to the defence of Devolution Cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru against accusations launched by the Opposition of alleged corruption at the National Youth Service (NYS).
The MPs also defended the government’s development record and its efforts to fight corruption. Ruto and the MPs dismissed Cord leader Raila Odinga and Opposition critics for claiming the war on graft had been lost, accusing them of being hell-bent on sabotaging government development projects through falsehoods.
Raila was yesterday quoted in the press saying Waiguru should be probed over alleged attempts to steal money from NYS. The DP and the MPs, who spoke in separate functions, rallied behind Waiguru, saying she should not be intimidated by people out to pull back the Jubilee administration’s development agenda.
The Deputy President first joined one group of MPs at Githurai, Nairobi, and later another in Nyeri , both sessions at church services. He criticised the Opposition for what he termed “an effort aimed at frustrating the Jubilee government’s surge in the fight against terrorism and corruption”, saying the transformation agenda remains on course despite criticism.
In what was a coordinated approach to show unity in the Jubilee coalition and rally around Waiguru, 11 MPs joined Ruto for a Sunday service at St Peter’s ACK Church in Nyeri town while nine others spoke at Holy Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Githurai, Roysambu constituency.
The nine legislators who joined Ruto at Githurai, led by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and his Dagoretti South counterpart Dennis Waweru criticised Raila over his remarks that Waiguru should be probed over the NYS cash usage, telling the Opposition leader to first account for the “Kazi kwa Vijana” programme that was launched under the former Grand Coalition Government, in which he served as the Prime Minister.
Last week, the Devolution Ministry was in the spotlight over an alleged Sh826 million scandal at the NYS, but Waiguru said someone had infiltrated the system to corrupt it and that the matter had been reported to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
“I was in the Cabinet when the “Kazi kwa Vijana” programme was started, it was tough because the youth were working hard but the money was going into the pockets of the old guard, now there is proof that money is going into the pockets of the youth,” said Kamau.
“The work done by NYS in Kibra for the last nine months is good, yet the former PM was the MP there for a long time. Kenyans should not let others take them for a ride,” he said.
“The Kazi kwa Vijana programme was under Raila when he was the PM and before he opens his mouth to speak about NYS, let him tell us where that money is,” said Waweru, who is being touted as a likely candidate for Nairobi’s governor seat.
Ruto said the government agenda will not be deterred by negative criticism by Cord, adding that they will not succeed in deterring efforts of transforming the country. He said some individuals had formed a habit of criticising all development and were now targeting the youth agenda being fronted by government.
“Some people do not see anything good in their own motherland yet even foreign countries are recognising the fact that this nation is winning the fight against terror. They criticised retired President Kibaki when he was constructing the Thika Super Highway.
They did the same with projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, the laptops project and now they are busy complaining about NYS and the fight against terrorism.
They will be surprised because as long as President Uhuru and I are in leadership, the transformation of this country is unstoppable,” said Ruto. The MPs praised the work President Kenyatta and Ruto have done so far and especially revamping the NYS, which they said has given many youths job opportunities, and urged the Opposition to watch how work is done from the sidelines.
Other MPs who accompanied Ruto included Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri), Rachel Shebesh (Nairobi), Esther Gathogo (Ruiru), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu), John Njoroge (Kasarani), Benson Mutura (Makadara) and Samuel Gichigi (Kipipiri).
In Nyeri, Ruto was accompanied by among others Senators Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) who is also the Central Kenya Parliamentary Caucus patron, Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Lenny Kivuti (Embu), Muriuku Karue (Nyandarua), Kembi Getura (Murang’a), Beatrice Elachi (Nominated), GG Kariuki (Laikipia), MPs Esther Murugi (Nyeri Town), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Mary Wambui (Othaya), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) and Ndung’u Gethenji (Tetu).
But even as this happened, Kibera residents have cautioned politicians against politicising the NYS programmes and vowed to resist any attempts by those opposed to the project. Youth Coordinator Muhammad Abdulla said at least 3,000 Kibera youths have been employed to work alongside the NYS team as part of the Youth Empowerment Programme through which they earn salaries.
The MPs lashed out at critics purporting there is a rebellion in the ruling coalition and that there was dissatisfaction over some of the decisions made by their leaders, saying President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto would soldier on and do the work they were elected to do.
Reports of Jubilee MPs’ alleged defiance in particular, arose when they declined to approve the President’s nominee to the Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr Monica Juma. The MPs have since dismissed the claims.