A fierce fight for the control of the millions of shillings allocated to the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary is said to have led to the resignation of Principal Secretary (PS) for Correctional Services Esther Ngero, the first high-ranking official in President William Ruto’s cabinet to resign.
Before her reassignment to the Ministry of Interior and National Administration, Ms Ngero was working in Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s office as head of the State Department for Performance and Delivery Management. She was working alongside PS Aurelia Rono, who was in charge of Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Mudavadi’s office is in charge of implementing national government policies and coordinating the national legislative agenda together with Kenya Kwanza leaders in both the National Assembly and the Senate. In the Supplementary Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023, Mr Mudavadi’s office was allocated Sh751.9 million for its recurrent budget.
According to guidelines by National Treasury, there is only one accounting officer for each of the government ministries. In cases where there is more than one PS, the accounting officer will be the one in charge of the State Department concerned with the deliverables in the Cabinet.
Ms Ngero, prior to her reassignment, was the accounting officer for the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.
According to a source, a fight between Ms Ngero and Ms Rono over control of the cash allocated to Mr Mudavadi’s office is said to have escalated and caused bad blood between the two high-ranking officials.
The ensuing fight was brought to the attention of President William Ruto, who resolved that Ms Rono should be the accounting officer.
This did not go down well with Ms Ngero, who grumbled about being short-changed despite lobbying for the position of PS through all means.
In a communication from the Chief of Staff last week, President Ruto moved Ms Ngero to Correctional Services at the Ministry of Interior and National Administration and appointed former Kiambu County Finance Chief Officer Faith Njeri Harrison to take her place at Mr Mudavadi’s office.
Ms Ngero’s resignation comes after a tough-talking President Ruto lectured cabinet secretaries and PSs on the need for integrity and vigilance.
During a Cabinet meeting last week, Dr Ruto is said to have scolded the officials over the misuse of public resources.
“He issued a stern warning against corruption and wastage in the provision of services to the people. The President asked the Cabinet to honour their responsibility to the Constitution and the people. He said corruption and wastage of resources will not be tolerated,” read a dispatch from the Cabinet.