Joho and I don't feed Raila - Governor Amason Kingi

Governor Amason Kingi spoke to JACOB NG’ETICH about his bodyguard and friend who died protecting him, the Sh51 million theft from his county’s coffers, the fate of Jubilee and why Kilifi residents sleep with their doors open

Your Deputy, Kenneth Kamto, has defected to Jubilee. Why is that?

Kamto has the right to make his own political decisions. Whether it was the right or wrong decision, it is the people of Kilifi, who have suffered marginalisation at the hands of the Jubilee administration, to decide whether they want to side with those who say tumetenga na tutafanya, or my solid performance in healthcare, education and water provision.

Are you saying those who defect to Jubilee watakula huu na hasara juu?

Watch this space. Those who have joined Jubilee have written their political epitaphs. Jubilee has continued to entrench economic marginalisation in the coast region and residents are bitter with them.

Come August, they will place it where it belongs, the losing side.

Your government lost Sh51 million last year. How was the theft not detected earlier?

The theft was executed through the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and when I got wind of it, I alerted the authorities and asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to launch investigations into the matter.

We cannot condone such shameless theft of public funds. That is why I made noise about it.

Was former Garsen MP Danson Mungatana who comes from Tana River involved?

I was the whistle-blower in the Sh51million theft case. Later, it emerged in court documents that the former MP could have been involved.

I am not the one who linked him to the case. My interest was to ensure that public funds are protected and that every penny that comes to Kilifi counts for something.

Jubilee has accused you and Governor Joho of funding Raila’s activities using public funds...

If they have evidence, let them provide it. Raila started moving around Kenya many years ago before we became governors. Who was funding him then?

That is the propaganda that the Jubilee thrives on. Instead of fixing the ailing economy, security and cost of living that is going up by the day, they spend their time on empty talk.

Your government erected pro-Raila billboards when President Uhuru Kenyatta toured Kilifi before a by-election. Wasn’t that disrespectful?

Jubilee has erected billboards all over the county showing the president and his deputy with their Tuko Pamoja slogan. Have you heard us complain that it is disrespectful to people in opposition strongholds? What we did was within the law.

It is public knowledge that Kilifi is an ODM zone. We did not intend to offend anyone. All we were saying is, this is the man we support.

Kilifi has had challenges of water, poverty, high school dropout rates and sex tourism. What have you done about these issues?

For many years, the county has been marginalised by successive governments, and indeed this has had an impact on the level of education because of poverty.

We have built several dams and just last month, I launched a Sh37 million Kadzandani, Adu-Kamale water supply pipeline project that will benefit more than 10,000 households. We sunk six boreholes to achieve this.

We have upgraded roads and built new ones in all the constituencies together with dispensaries in every ward that are well equipped.

Kids in your county don’t perform well in national exams...

Education is a national government function. Our responsibility as a county government is early childhood education. We have built and equipped close to 500 Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes.

All the parents need to do is buy uniforms because we provide free books and pencils. This has significantly improved enrolment across the county.

We have disbursed millions of shillings annually in bursaries for students in secondary schools and universities. In the next few years, educated young men and women will be teeming in our county.

Your bodyguard was killed protecting you, how was his family compensated?

Apart from the government compensation, I have personally continued to support his family. He was the breadwinner of the family and I will continue helping them.

What makes you happy as a governor?

After decades of marginalisation, I feel great when I see people moving around with ease on upgraded or new roads, mothers turn on taps metres away from their houses, and young kids access classrooms and free books and pens as they begin their education journey.

Those successes uplift my spirit and spur me to do more.

Your lowest point?

When crooks shamelessly stole Sh51million and shared it among themselves, without offering any goods or services to the residents of Kilifi. It broke my heart.

What is the state of healthcare in the county?

Our county hospital in Kilifi town was two years ago ranked as the best county referral hospital in Kenya. It is not by accident. Health is a priority for my government.

Is Coast now free of terror attacks? Can Nairobians visit without fear?

Kilifi is the most peaceful county in the country. You can sleep with your door open. The residents here are peace loving. I welcome any Kenyan who wants to shoot the breeze to make Kilifi their first choice.

How are you tackling drought in Kilifi?

As a county, we have relief food for the worst-hit areas and we continue to monitor the situation. No resident will go without food.

We are trying our best. But moving forward, we plan to increase land under irrigation so that we can avoid famine in future.