Is Nyakang’o bold stand threat to her powerful job?

Monday, December 11th, 2023 04:00 | By
Is Nyakang’o bold stand threat to her powerful job?
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o when she appeared at a Mombasa Court on Tuesday. PHOTO/Ndegwa Gathungu

Embattled Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o has recently found herself entangled in a web of legal troubles that could potentially jeopardise her position.

But it is the swift and clandestine manner in which she was apprehended and transported to Mombasa at night for alleged vices committed in a Sacco back in 2016 that raises suspicions that she might have stepped on some powerful toes.

Even as Nyakang’o denies knowledge of who might be behind her downfall, the convergence of events suggests a coordinated effort to bring her down. Even before she had settled after the Mombasa incident, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) threw another bombshell, seeking charges against Nyakang’o in connection with the controversial Telkom Kenya buyout, amounting to Sh6 billion, just days before the last General Election.

while the anti-corruption watchdog’s move also targets former Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, implicating him in various charges related to money laundering in the Telkom buyout plan, the timing raises fundamental questions whether this moves are intended to hit Nyakang’o hard and tarnish her reputation so that she can shut up.

Her role involves overseeing the implementation of budgets of both national and county governments. The Controller of Budget in this role monitors the use of public funds in-year and reports to Parliament on how the funds have been utilised.

Could recent series of revelations have led to Nyakango’s current predicament? It may have started when she hit the Treasury mandarins hard by exposing exaggerations in her salary, claiming it was stated three times higher than the budgeted amount.

She further dared to challenge the status quo by highlighting the adverse effects of high taxation on the economy. Indeed, in a country where dissenting voices are often stifled, Nyakango’s bold stance on fiscal matters may have triggered powerful adversaries, which indicates that her goose may have been cooked already. Another crucial issue raised by Nyakang’o is the lack of transparency in Government borrowing. She pointed out the dangers of borrowing without a clear plan, likening it to taking a loan from a bank and squandering it at a bar without accountability.

Her insistence on tracking loans and linking them to specific projects challenges a system accustomed to opaque financial dealings. Nyakango’s critique hit the heart of financial governance, emphasising the need for accountability in public expenditure, to ensure money goes to the intended purpose. She called Parliament to wake up and scrutinise where borrowed money is allocated to enhance fiscal responsibility, a virtue that may not be welcomed by those who thrive in the shadows of financial ambiguity.

The outspoken Controller of Budget also exposed the prevalent uncertainty among employees who feel insecure in their jobs. This narrative, however, clashes with the interests of those who prefer to maintain a system of uncertainty and instability for their own gains.

These sentiments could have made her an enemy to the powerful vested interests that thrive in the shadows of financial opacity. That’s why public opinion now has it that attempts to link her to alleged vices and questionable financial dealings could be a concerted effort to silence her and maintain the status quo.

If that is the case, yet the work of the Controller of Budget is to monitor the use of public funds in-year and reports on how the funds have been utilised, it is essential for Kenyans to question the timings and motives behind these legal onslaughts. Indeed, one is left wondering whether this is a genuine pursuit of justice, or a calculated move to eliminate an otherwise vocal critic of financial irregularities.

Be that as it may, clearly her goose is cooked, however, the fate of Nyakang’o may well determine the course of financial governance in the country.

—The writer is the Business Editor, People Daily

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