NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – Deputy President William Ruto has denied harbouring vested interests in the construction of the Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet amid an unfolding investigation.
Defending a Sh7.8 billion figure given by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich as the only amount of money paid for the construction of the dams, Ruto said he knew the amount in question because he takes the rollout of government programs seriously.
“As Deputy President, I’d be reckless and I’d have failed in my job if I didn’t pay attention to numbers. The question I’m being asked is like a hyena asking a herdsman what is the interest in your herd? “Why wouldn’t a herdsman have an interest in the herd he’s keeping?” he posed in his remarks at the closing ceremony of the 6th Devolution Conference in Kirinyaga Thursday.
Ruto was responding to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who while speaking at the same conference on Wednesday accused him of trivializing the matter by asserting that only an advance payment of Sh7.8 billion had been paid for the two dams, contradicting a report issued by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) which is probing the matter.
“If we’re discussing about the theft of the dams don’t come and tell us that it was not Sh21 billion but Sh7 billion. How did you know?” Odinga had asked.
In his swift response on Thursday, Ruto said he took implementation of projects the Jubilee Party promised the electorate seriously, saying a total of 57 dams had been earmarked for construction.
“Yes, I have an interest in the construction of the dams – a major interest. President Uhuru Kenyatta and I put the construction of these dams in the manifesto of the Jubilee Party,” he responded.
He said the construction of dams was particularly vital to the government’s commitment to food security and healthcare, noting that inadequate access to clean water continued to hinder the fight against waterborne diseases.
“Apart from roads and electricity, the third largest enabler of our manifesto is water. A major component of health challenges comes from consumption of unfit water,” Ruto pointed out.
In his address a day earlier, Odinga accused him of defending theft of public resources in an escalating war of words in the fight against corruption, with the DP responding that he should report corruption suspects to the DCI instead of spreading what he termed as unsubstantiated falsehoods in public fora.
He said the DCI had a clear mandate under Article 249 and urged those with proof of graft in any government agency to file the same with detectives.
“While opening this conference on Tuesday, President Kenyatta asked those who know anybody who had stolen to instead of shouting in funerals, fundraisers or conferences to submit their petitions to the investigative agencies,” Ruto noted.
He urged institutions tasked with executing the war against graft to maintain fidelity to the Constitution and statutes governing their operations while maintaining independence devoid of political interference, warning against what he termed as selective prosecutions for political reasons.
“The biggest threat to the war on corruption is selective prosecutions targeting predetermined individuals or projects, and rumour mongers, propagandist, and peddlers of half-truths exaggerations, and distortions meant for media headlines to execute political schemes which constitute obstruction of justice,” Ruto remarked.
He faulted Odinga for being dishonest in his clamour against graft, wondering why he had changed tune over accusations that the Jubilee administration had plundered Eurobond proceeds and instead turned to labelling him as corrupt.
“In the last election you said your competitors stole the Eurobond and now you’re accusing the person you perceive to be your future competitor of stealing money allocated for dams yet you cannot take evidence to relevant agencies,” he stated.