Former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura yesterday defended retired President Mwai Kibaki for using his influence to give his two grandchildren scholarships at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

Muthaura told the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee that Kibaki acted within the law to have the scholarships awarded to the two students. It is not clear how much was paid for the scholarships.

That was presidential discretion to award scholarships. The president, as the Chief Executive of the country, has a lot of discretion on budget

Mwai Kibaki's Grandchildren
Mwai Kibaki’s Grandchildren

He said he received instructions from the former head of state to have the scholarships approved.

Muthaura said Philip Githinji, a nephew of Kibaki, had lost his job at Oil Lybia and was unable to cater for his children’s education abroad.

He told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that Kibaki had first written to him to have Ian Nderitu get the scholarship, but later made a verbal communication to have Sandra Njeri included. Githinji is the father of the two.

The team heard that Njeri and Nderitu were pursuing Engineering and Architecture courses at the institution.

The President wrote to me on this matter and he later varied his earlier communication verbally to have the second student included. I knew Githinji as a nephew to the former President

The students did their first degree and proceeded for the second degree. That is why the amount is a bit high.

Wandayi and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo questioned why the retired President opted to direct expenditure of public resources to educate his relatives.

 

Muthaura said former Higher Education PS Crispus Kiamba also received a letter from Kibaki’s private secretary Nick Wanjohi, directing him to have the two scholarships approved.

‘Sikulangi ugali na mkono’ Kibaki’s grandson shouts

Kiamba told the committee the ministry resolved to grant the scholarships after a request was made. “We were duly following those directions but we subjected them to scrutiny. This is more of an under practice,” Kiamba said.

 

BY JAMES MURIMI/The Star

MPASHO TV