‘Bad politics derailed impact of Auditor General,’ Edward Ouko says as he leaves office
Outgoing Auditor General Edward Ouko on Tuesday intimated that his one regret is that his reports were not implemented fully in a bid to be more impactful.
Ouko, whose eight-year tenure ends August 27, 2019 noted that the main challenge was that reports from his office would go to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee who then are mandated to do a report on the same but unfortunately usually got lost in the process.
“We need to get to a point, where the reports of the Auditor general are actionable. We may need to review the Constitution so that once the auditor General has raised a recommendation we move to what action do we take? Is it recovery, administrative or job loss…,” he said.
Ouko further argued that the Constitution should be reviewed to enable stern action taken against those involved in embezzling public resources including recovering the loot.
While lamenting how many times his recommendations to PAC never yielded fruit, Ouko noted that “bad politics” played a big role in derailing efforts to tame wastage of public resources.
“Eight years later, wastage is still there. We need the citizens to keep us accountable… If we are going to be impactful, we have to bring down accountability to the lowest levels,” said Ouko.
On his exit report, Ouko recommended for the review of the Public Audit Act to enhance the role of citizen participation in pushing for accountability.
He also proposed the development of an oversight board anchored in Parliament to review and approve budget for the office of the Auditor General.
Ouko, who was speaking in his office intimated that his office was a roller-coaster that had seen him receive threats a few times.
“The few times we have had threats we have reported to police and action has been taken… On the issue of security, it’s my family that has been of more concern,” said Ouko.
Due to the nature of his job, Ouko noted that his private life took a hit. “I have really neglected my personal affairs. I need time to re-organize then think about what next,” he added.
Ouko unearthed many scandals among them the controversial Ksh.3.7 million expenditure to purchase dairy cows in Kisumu County.
A pending bills verification also revealed county debts in excess of Ksh.35 billion were either fake or did not meet threshold for payment.
In his report, Ouko showed how the 47 county governments owed suppliers up to Ksh.108 billion, the highest amount of pending bills in the 6 years of devolved governance.
Ouko was appointed the Auditor-General on 27 August, 2011. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (FCA) and is a co-opted Council Member of the Institute representing Africa.
He holds a B.Com Degree (Hons) in Finance and Accounting from the University of Nairobi.
Before his appointment, Ouko was the Auditor General at the African Development Bank where he directed the audit function and was also in charge of the anti-corruption and fraud function.
Ouko was with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for over 24 years in various capacities.
He has over 30 years’ experience in matters of auditing, accounting and investigations.
Ouko was involved in close networking with Multi-lateral Development Banks (MDBs) and UN agencies for over 12 years on matters of investigations and audit.