Former head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Ambassador Francis Muthaura divulged to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that retired president Mwai Kibaki during his time in office directed him to ensure that two children of his nephew (Philip Githinji) got scholarships to pursue education in Australia from the public coffers.
While appearing before PAC led by Ugunja Member of Parliament Opiyo Wandayi yesterday, Amb.Muthaura said that the two, Ian Githinji and Sandra Githinji were enrolled in the prestigious Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Mr. Githinji went to pursue a master’s degree in analytics while Ms. Githinji enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in interior design.
But what was of concern to the committee is the question as to why the two are yet to complete their studies despite the fact that the program was to last for four year maximum having commenced in 2011.
The committee also questioned why they could not pursue the courses locally. It has emerged that the taxpayer has paid to a tune of sh25 million to finance the education of the two.
Amb. Muthaura however told the committee that the then president directed him to ensure the two got the scholarships through the then Higher Education Permanent Secretary Crispus Kiamba.
The ambassador further revealed that the appeal came as because the father of the two had lost his job at Oil Libya Company Limited and sort the help of his uncle (Kibaki) to help him out.
“After he lost his job, he could not sustain the education of his children. He made an appeal to the president to be assisted through government scholarship programme. The president considered the request and directed me to present the case to the Ministry of Education.
“They are personalities who are known to me and you know the pressure that accompanies people in leadership whenever help is sought by the people. The president has discretion in the awarding of things like scholarships. He can intervene to assist anyone,” added Amb. Muthaura.
The committee however wondered why the president could not foot the bills from his personal funds owing to his status. Rarieda Constituency legislature Otiende Amollo questioned why the President’s communication were note submitted in writing after it emerged that some of the communications to Muthaura were done by word of mouth.
“Instructions of the president must always be in writing but what has been presented to the committee does not even have a seal as per the Constitution,” said the MP.
Mr. Muthaura on defending the discrepancies faulted they system then citing that they were still trying to conform to the new Constitution.
‘Sympathize with us because we were under transition and had not yet developed the instruments,” he said.
The then Higher Education PS defended the president saying he did not violate any law in awarding the scholarships.
“We were helping a Kenyan and the ministry was sponsoring students within the East African region and outside,” said Prof Kiamba.