Continued Talk About the PM Spending USD7000 On Presidential Suite Is Disingenuous

28 May

It is not true that USD7000 per night was spent on a presidential suite for the PM on his recent visit to New York. It amazes but does not surprise me people are still making this baseless and false claim even after the PM’s office has provided documentation to show the correct amount spent on the PM’s accommodation which is nowhere even close to this made up amount.

As pointed out in my earlier blog on this non-issue, there is nothing extravagant or corrupt about what was spent on the PM’s visit to New York or any other trips he has made for that matter. It is nonetheless a classic fallacy to set-up a false premise ending up with a conclusion that does not follow, especially when accomplished by someone with an ax to grind.

Thus, for example in this case, the fallacy goes as has been peddled here and elsewhere by the PM’s haters: The government spent “huge” amounts of money on Raila’s trip to New York therefore Raila must be extravagant, corrupt and does not care about the people suffering in Kibera and the rest of the country.

In reality, any amount of money spent on a prime minister’s or a president’s visit to a foreign country is by definition going to be “huge” relatively speaking. It does not therefore follow that any prime minister or president who undertakes such a trip at such “huge” expense is “extravagant,” “corrupt,” or does not care about the suffering of his or her country.

The sole question to be asked for purposes of accountability is as I stated in my earlier blog on this whether the amount spent for the PM’s accommodation is reasonable and commensurate with that spent by someone holding the same office, i.e., a prime minister and clearly the answer in this case is yes the amount was quite reasonable and appropriate for our PM.

Again, as the PM stated and I agree with him, we do not expect him to say in some dingy backstreet hotel while in official or even private visits

Talking about extravagance and wasteful government spending, the PM’s trips cannot be compared to Kalonzo Musyoka’s on his so called lobbying which everyone including Kalonzo agrees was such a waste of tax payer’s money. Those mentioning expenditures on the PM’s trips in the same breath as those of Kalonzo are disingenuous at best and malicious at worst to the extent they know and appreciate the distinction but yet carelessly lump the same together and condemn them both as extravagant and wasteful government spending, in efforts to sully the PM’s good name.

In fact, it was unwise and wrong for the media and everyone else to have jumped on this fake story without knowing these facts just because LM Kutuny lobbed the charge in Parliament.

As stated in my earlier blog, Kuttuny and the like questioning the Prime Minister’s travel expenses are disingenuous because they are doing this simply for cheap publicity gained from smearing the PM and not because they care about “extravagant” expenditure of public funds.

The PM should not even be expected to answer these types of questions in Parliament; rather, MPs should direct these questions to the appropriate offices that coordinate the PM’s travels. I realize and appreciate we are into the new political dispensation in the country but a line of discipline must be maintained at all levels, especially for the presidency and the PM’s office which must be held in high respect and dignity.

Subjecting the PM to questions of this type during his Q&A in Parliament in my view is inappropriate, uncalled for, and serve only to provide an opportunity for shameless characters like Kutuny to embarrass the PM even by just asking the questions for they leave a false impression that even countering with facts does not completely erase.

The Speaker should remind Kutuny and the like they have a right and privilege to speak in Parliament without fear of being hauled to court for defamation and slander but that’s a right they must not abuse as Kuttuny has obviously done in this and other instances.


Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Siasa


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2 responses to “Continued Talk About the PM Spending USD7000 On Presidential Suite Is Disingenuous

  1. David Ochwangi

    May 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    You need a reality check yourself my friend, it is clear you have let your personal affection for Prime Minister Odinga cloud your judgment but suffice to say that majority of Kenyans don’t see it your way and in the end that is all that matters. PM Odinga didn’t have to spend $2500.00 a night in New York while Kenyans can’t afford $2.00 meals, it is wrong to continue defending what is obviously WRONG. The trip was NOT mandatory but elective in which case he could have spent his own money and show leadership by recommitting his taxpayer funded travel the people of Kibera or elsewhere in Kenya. Economic austerity is a reality to Millions of Kenyans, why didn’t the Prime Minister get that memo? He is simply and completely out of touch with the reality of most Kenyans and he must be called out on it, whether it is Raila Odinga or Kalonzo Musyoka or anybody else for that matter in that rotten government, let’s all stand up and call them out- that is what involvement and engagement means.
    What the PM’s spending shows yet again is that he is a poor manager and a bad steward of the people’s resources, he has no commitment to preserve and manage the meager resources of a poor country like Kenya for the good of society in general but instead for his personal benefit and that is regrettable. Odinga could easily forego the per diem or pay out of his own pocket, unlike most Kenyans who pay payroll and other high Taxes, he doesn’t- he and his family are catered for and yet he is a Billionaire, could he not use some of his resources to fund his luxury rather than loot the public coffers? Isn’t that the same reason Mobutu, Amin, Mubarak, Gaddafi, and all the countless dictators fell from grace? And you can, with a straight face, justify this? Do better next my friend.

  2. Jacob Prichani

    November 1, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    David Ochwangi Goes Ballistic: A Response to his Attack on Ambassador Elkanah Odembo
    By Jacob Princhani, Baltimore, Maryland

    Some of you may have chanced to read Atlanta based David Ochwangi’s invective laden jeremiad castigating Elkanah Odembo, Kenya’s envoy to the United States. Whist anger does sometimes act, as a catalyst for good writing; one must wield it skillfully to achieve good effect. Ochwangi is angry from the get go. He does divulge the reason and the genesis of his mammoth discomfort halfway through his lament of biblical proportions. We shall get to that.
    Let us see if we can compress Ochwangi’s lament to a few specific points and then address them: The last Mashujaa Day celebration in Atlanta was a resounding success courtesy of attendance by Kenya’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, and no doubt Ochwangi’s organizing prowess despite limited resources. Ambassador Odembo snubbed the function because of “petty” personal reasons; Ambassador Odembo is an ODM representative in DC and a relative of Raila Odinga’s, unqualified one to boot having had scant prior experience in diplomacy. The ambassador’s acts should be seen through those lenses and that alone. His predecessor, Ambassador Ogego was a more outgoing fellow who frequented Atlanta and facilitated Ochwangi’s outreach efforts consecrating his self-appointed role as the point person of the Kenyan Diaspora in Atlanta. Lastly, Ochwangi makes some vague appeals to nationalism and how others including Odembo are wrecking it because they do not agree with his vision. He derides the recently concluded Diaspora Conference in DC.
    Congratulations for pulling off a highly successful Mashujaa Day celebration in Atlanta, the best ever. However, the breathless attack on Ambassador Odembo immediately following self-back patting, for having failed to “honor” the occasion, betrays a man masking deep disappointment and seeking recognition at all costs. That others might have different and equally valid visions escapes Ochwangi’s mind. Just because the visions do not jibe with his does not make them pernicious or even suspect.
    Why, then, would Odembo snub Ochwangi? I have little idea but it could partly be due to a poisonous and totally unfounded attack Ochwangi aimed at Odembo before the Ambassador took up his posting in Washington DC. Ochwangi claims Odembo was favored because he is related to the Prime Minister. He might well be. I have no idea; however Ochwangi’s brazen claims that Odembo is unqualified to hold the post are laughable. It appears all he knows about Odembo’s background is that he was an NGO activist. He clearly knows very little about the ambassador. He needs to do further homework.
    That said Ochwangi might have a point when he criticizes the Kenyan system for tending to concentrate rewards to those from or close to leading families. It is a national trend and the solution should be sought beginning with understanding and analyzing the issue in order to devise ways of checking it without trampling on the rights of Kenyans who happen to be related to notables. That is how civilized societies work. To single out one family as an embodiment of this trend is to say the least an act of malice.
    Having penned an ill-informed tirade against Ambassador Odembo, Ochwangi expected a congratulatory note! I believe the ambassador took the swipe in his stride and would have thought nothing of it to but for the self-appointed (Ochwangi) Kenyan envoy’s antics in Atlanta. Ochwangi claims Ambassador Ogengo consecrated his role and maybe he did, but that was Ogego. He had his style of interacting with Kenyans here in the US which does not necessarily form a template future Kenyan ambassadors here must emulate. Different office holders have distinct ways of going about their business, which may explain why Ambassador Odembo has chosen a different vehicle, Diaspora Advisory Council, as the preferred mode of interaction with Kenyan communities across the country. Ochwangi will not hear of different ways of doing things if he not at the center of it hence he casts aspersions at anyone with different ideas.
    Is it true that the Kenya’s DC missions are an ODM transplant /operations focusing on and interacting with ODM supporters exclusively? Nothing could be further from the truth. This bit of hokum is a creation of Ochwangi’s fevered mind and wounded ego. Take the recent Diaspora Conference in DC. The get together attracted close to one thousand Kenyans. Serious topics were discussed. Discussants’ political affiliation or persuasion were nowhere on display. They were not relevant. That Ochwangi tries to rubbish what was universally acclaimed as a successful event betrays bitterness and a narrowness of mined that is in harmony with his apparent narcissism.
    Kenyans should be able to disagree over substance, and it may get heated at times. The basic rule of orderly and informed debate is facts must be respected. Ochawangi has a very right to hold the views he does but he must extend the same courtesy to others who may have different opinions. His way or the highway, in this case, character assassination, is not a sign of political maturity.


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