Search for auditor turns into game of musical chairs : The Standard

Former Auditor General Edward Ouko. He retired last August. [File, Standard]

The recruitment of the new Auditor General may take longer than expected as the process has been dogged by intrigues and is seemingly becoming a circus.

On Thursday, the Employment Court in Milimani began hearing a case in which activist Okiya Omtatah has challenged the re-advertisement of the position after a selection panel settled on three names for the job.
Former Auditor General Edward Ouko retired last August but attempts to replace him have been a subject to a matrix of caution, interests and suspicion.
The case before High Court judge Stephen Radido was occasioned by the rejection of the three names by State House after they were forwarded to the President in November for appointment.

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Immediately Ouko retired, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the office vacant and, according to the Public Audit Act, appointed a selection panel chaired by Sammy Onyango to begin the recruitment.
A list of 17 people, including nine staff members and directors at the Auditor General’s office, were interviewed.
They include Leonard Rang’ala, David Muchoki, Peter Kitonyo, Abdullahi Idris, Francis Kigo, Calistus Wekesa, Joseph Tulula and Moses Edwin.

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Others were the deputy auditors-general and directors Edwin Kamar, Alex Rugera, Meshack Onyango, David Gichana, William Agunda , Silvester Kiini, Nancy Gathungu, Dennis Theuri and Elizabeth Nguringa.
Onyango’s team that comprised Public Service Commission chairman Samwel Karogo and representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Attorney General, Public Service ministry, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, the Association of Professional Societies of East Africa and the Law Society of Kenya forwarded three nominees before the end of November.

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Justice Radido issued orders barring the selection panel from conducting fresh shortlisting of candidates, pending determination of the case challenging re-advertisement of the position. The judge set February 20 as the hearing date.
The Act says the selection panel shall hold its proceedings in public and submit to Parliament a report of the interview proceedings.
The report should include the scores of each candidate interviewed by individual members of the panel, together with the criteria used in selecting the names forwarded.
New recruitment
The law requires the holder of the office to have at least 10 years’ experience in auditing or public finance, and holds a degree in finance, accounting or economics.

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Whereas three names were presented to the President in November, on December 11, Karogo ironically said his panel was unable to pick any names for nomination, setting room for a new recruitment process.
Did President Kenyatta reject the three names, and why?
In the court case, Omtatah argues that the panel does not have the powers to reject candidates who had been shortlisted and therefore its action was unconstitutional.
Omtatah, in his court papers, says the law did not provide for any cancellation of recruitment until the names are vetted by the National Assembly. Already, the delay in picking of the new Auditor General has begun to bite.
According to the Constitution, within six months after the end of each financial year, the Auditor General shall audit and report, in respect of that financial year, the accounts of the national and county governments.

SEE ALSO :Delays in appointing auditor general disastrous, says Ouko

It is also expected to audit the accounts of all funds and authorities of the national and county governments, accounts of all courts, every commission and independent office established by the Constitution.
Others are accounts of the National Assembly, the Senate and the county assemblies, political parties funded from public funds, public debt and any other entity that legislation requires the Auditor General to audit.
It is only a substantive Auditor General who can sign the books, according to National Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Kimani Ichung’wah.

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Auditor GeneralOkiya OmtatahEdward Ouko

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