Resign, Raila tells CSs Njuguna Ndung’u and Davis Chirchir in fuel saga

Raila Odinga

Party leader of Azimio la Umoja, Raila Odinga, addressing the media during a press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation on November 20, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat| Nation Media Group

Azimo la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga has called for the immediate resignation of Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir and his National Treasury counterpart Njuguna Ndung’u over the government-to-government fuel deal.

Mr Odinga further demanded that the government table evidence of payment for the fuel. Describing the deal Kenya signed with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a grand scam, he rubbished responses to his press statement last week, saying none of the government officials had addressed the crux of the matter.

According to Mr Odinga, President William Ruto and the Executive should present evidence of an existing government-to-government deal, and of Kenya having paid for the fuel in Kenya shillings; two of the promises the Kenya Kwanza administration had made on the signing of the deal.

Mr Odinga also endorsed a dossier by Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah, in which the lawmaker alleged that the controversial Sh17 billion fuel—which businesswoman Ann Njeri says belonged to her, but which the government says she had no proof of ownership—had been paid from through withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund.

“Senator Omtatah was able to establish a link between the Sh17,224,718,632 which was unconstitutionally withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund in June 2023 to subsidise unnamed private financial enterprises and the Sh17 billion contested oil shipment between Ms Njeri and the two Cabinet Secretaries.

Raila tells Chirchir and Ndung'u to resign over Sh17bn oil deal

“I concur with the senator’s suspicion that Njeri is the ‘private financial enterprises’ funded by the Sh17,224,718,632 illegally withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund and received by the Ministry of Petroleum,” Mr Odinga said.

He added: “CS for Energy and Petroleum Chirchir and National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u must not only resign, they must also be prosecuted.”

Dr David Ndii, who chairs the Presidential Council of Economic Advisors, has rubbished Mr Omtatah’s claims.

“This is nonsense on stilts. The line items are payments of Uhuru’s fuel subsidy arrears. Suffice it to say we’ve succeeded wildly in moving our political discourse from personalities/tribes to issues, content quality notwithstanding,” said Dr Ndii on X.

On Monday, Mr Odinga called on the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to present the supplier purchase agreement associated with the fuel deal.

“I am once again calling for transparency in this matter. The public has the right to scrutinise the documents related to this oil deal, and they should be official agreements involving representatives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Kenya. It should not merely be documents signed by entities such as the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, ADNOC Global Trading Ltd, or Emirates National Oil Company,” Mr Odinga said.

He pointed out that the glaring omission of the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) from the dealings, despite its legal mandate to participate in all aspects of the petroleum industry, was suspect and irregular. He added that Nock is wholly owned by the government.

“The exclusion of Nock in favour of private entities raises serious questions about transparency and the decision to engage with seemingly secretive companies rather than a state-owned corporation with a clear mandate. How does Chirchir justify excluding our national oil corporation while dealing with private entities of questionable background? This demands a clear explanation about the decision-making process and adherence to legal mandates,” said Mr Odinga.

The ODM party leader further raised concerns about the role of Mr Daniel Kiptoo, the Director General of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra), asking why he had been present at the oil prices negotiations and then turn around and sit to set maximum pump prices.

“How can Epra be a player and referee at the same time? Where is the ethics and professionalism in this? How can this be in compliance with the Public Officer Ethics Act? We are still waiting for answers,” said Mr Odinga.

Mr Odinga questioned how Kenya could have landed a government-to-government deal that included fuel for neighbouring countries, especially Uganda.

“Are we going to be stuck with and forced to buy it at the old high prices while costs are falling elsewhere? Is that the reason Tanzania’s has gone down while ours stay unchanged? Are we stuck with old prices because the negotiators already locked the prices and the oil is coming in the quantities that were agreed on in March?” asked Mr Odinga.

He added: “So many things still do not make sense despite the massive space bought by the oil companies to explain themselves and the efforts of the government to fool and confuse Kenyans.”

Raila asks Ruto to restore fuel taxes to 8pc from 16pc

While addressing the congregation at a church service in Bomet County on Sunday, President William Ruto challenged Mr Odinga to prove that the fuel deal was a scam.

“I want to challenge our competitors to prove to us it is a scam instead of asking us to prove that it’s a scam,” he said.

On November 18, three companies (Gulf Energy, Galana Energies and Oryx Energies) charged back at Mr Odinga, saying the deal, in which they were designated as importers, was above board. Their stand was supported by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah.

“Mr Odinga alleges that the characterisation of the oil deal as G-to-G was meant to shield some three Kenyan companies from paying 30 per cent corporate tax. We dare Mr Odinga to table such evidence that these companies are not remitting their taxes,” said Mr Ichung’wah.

He went on: “For the benefit of Mr Odinga and his ilk, the three companies are not agents of the Kenya government and are doing logistics on behalf of (Aramco and ADNOC) the two state corporations in Saudi and United Arab Emirates. It is not the business of the Kenya government who those corporations appoint as their Kenyan partners.”

In his statement yesterday, Mr Odinga wondered why only the three companies were talking, while the major oil companies—Vivo and Total—were silent.

“Apparently, we have reached a situation where oil marketing companies, all with shady histories, feel confident and compelled to answer Kenyans when Kenyans seek answers from their government,” Mr Odinga said.