Kenyan Envoy to the US Seeks to Allay Fears of Graft at Embassy
Kenyan ambassador to the US Elkanah Odembo has ordered his officers to release a comprehensive expenditure statement arising from last year’s Diaspora Conference held in Washington, DC.
The directive comes in the wake of suspicion of misappropriation of funds at the prestigious Kenyan Consulate in Washington, DC.
The statement is expected to give a break down of money spent on food, venue hire and resource materials during the conference.
Last week, the embassy released a general Income and Expenditure Statement for the 2011 Diaspora Conference, which critics said was extravagant or inflated.
In the statement, the embassy estimated that $106,801 (Sh9 million) was spent during the three-day conference held on October 7-9, 2011, at the Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC (READ MORE: http://mwakilishi.com/content/articles/2012/09/21/kenya-embassy-in-washington-dc-releases-hotel-expenses-breakdown.html).
A section of the Kenyan community in the US disputed the figure, saying the consulate could not have spent such a huge amount of cash on hotel expenses alone.
The criticism has threatened to overshadow the second annual conference scheduled to take place October 5-7 at the Double Tree hotel in Virginia.
Speaking to The Standard On Sunday in Delaware on Thursday, Odembo acknowledged his officers had given an incomplete statement.
He spoke at at the Simba Grill, a Kenyan Restaurant in the state during the recording of Diaspora Voice, a KTN live stream online show.
“I take personal responsibility for the embassy giving the public an expenditure budget without expenses justification. The mistake we made was to release just a summary of the Income and Expenditure Statement. There is no reason as to why we shouldn’t do a better job because the main reason for releasing the statement in the first place was because we wanted to be as transparent as possible ,” said Odembo.
Source: The Standard
Well done Amb. Odembo! Just what we need right now...state officials who take responsibility and respond to criticizm with a positive and not negative comment. On the other hand, the officers concerned with release of the "summary" should be asked to explain their conduct. The implications of releasing a statement that then gives a return of casting a shadow of doubt on the embassy should not be taken lightly! Siku hizi wakenya na hasa wa diaspora wamechanuka sana!
"The directive comes in the wake of suspicion of misappropriation of funds at the prestigious Kenyan Consulate in Washington, DC.".....What is it that is "prestigious" in that embassy? Sometimes we make statements that expose how sycophants we are.
Do the released expenditures include accomodation of the members? If not, then Mr. Odembo will have a lot of explanations to do as to how a 2 days conference could have walloped more than $100,000. When Kinity initially raised the red flag, some of us thought he was politicking. But given the questionable figures we have seen from the embassy, we might as well demand more than just these figures.
Personally, I am willing to give Ambassador Odembo the benefit of doubt and let’s give him an opportunity to release the figures and facts first. I was at the event and it is actually possible that the bill was that high, let’s just wait to get facts first. I am glad he acknowledges that his figures failed to properly substantiate the expenditures. The trick is full disclosure Balozi.
On a related note, assuming everything adds up- I hope Mr. Odembo learns not to cast negative aspersions on others without the benefit of facts. He notoriously went to Kenya last year and discouraged folks from participating Mashujaa Day event in Atlanta based on similar innuendos about how the Atlanta event was being funded and the use of the funds-( not to mention it was less than $10,000.00- a paltry 7% of what they say it cost the Diaspora conference). All eerily similar to what is plaguing the Embassy right now.
So the Atlanta event was cancelled? But Hon. balozi came here and found the kenyan community doing well with the mashujaa day event? So whats next now?
I am one of those people that defended the embassy from claims of misappropriation. I still think it is possible that the bill could have been that high given the nature of the venue- Marriott Wardman is a very much in-demand venue in DC any time of the year. I also might add that those who negotiated some of the services might have been outdone and hence the high figures. I also agree that a full disclosure is necessary to put this matter to rest. In this regard, let us wait for the diclosure details before passing judgment.
If it is true that the venue is known to be too expensive any time of the year, as Regina confirms, why was it necessary to choose it? The Embassy is "prestigious" as someone said elsewhere! This business of spending public money without care is not good.
I read about Isaac Newton Kinity's complaint about questionable expenditures at the Kenya Embassy in Washington, DC, sometime early this year. At first, thought that his complaints were misplaced. However, looking at the figures provided here by the Embassy, something does not seem right. We all know that Embassies have been riddled with corruption, if the Tokyo, Lagos (to name just but a few) scams are anything to go by.
My question to Kenya Embassy in Washington, DC is; how come the embassy spent $106,000 in just two days yet we are informed that the money was spent on food and beverages only. And even with that we see 500 cups of tea each costing a whole $10.00! Was this being charged on a special rate set for Kenyans? I have been a customer to the hotel before and the rates here are way too unrealistic. How many were the participants? Were they 500? Did all the participants stay the whole two days? Is it justified for someone to doubt the ingenuity of this so called Diaspora council?
This Diaspora council started as Ambassador's Council. Later on, it was changed into Diaspora council on suspicious grounds, apparently to cover the ambassador out of any possible questions on any future questionable public expenditures. The ambassador who is the brainchild of this thing has called for a more accountable budgetary disclosure. I praise him him for that but that is not enough? is there something he knows and if so, when did he come to be suspicious as is the case on a number of Kenyans? The ambassador does not enjoy popular support of the Diasporans because of his arrogance and condescending attitude toward Kenyans. How can he be expected to steer a successful program intended to unite Kenyans? This is an exercise devised for purposes of stealing Kenyans' money.
Something is evidently fishy here and the ambassador, by merely passing the buck on his minions cannot escape responsibility if it emerges that public funds were misappropriated.
John, Your point is well noted and I agree with you on a lot more than anyone else on this matter but we also must be careful not to cry too much over spilled milk. God know I have had my fair share of differences with Balozi Odembo on just about everything but I want us to be fair to him as well. If the funds are found to be misappropriated, then let’s go after him but I am not sure that is the case, at least not yet. If they paid such colossal funds just for the prestige of the event or for whatever reason, perhaps we can question his judgment but let’s hold off on passing judgment.
I think Balozi means well but he clearly missed the mark in his approach to the Diaspora in general whether it is the now Moribund Diaspora Councils or the struggling Diaspora Conference or other issues, Odembo misjudged his own capacity to be an effective leader and I hope he learns. That said, first things first, let’s get last year’s Diaspora Conference Accounting squared away first.
- If you can't even properly account for 2011 conference, how can you be trusted to hold yest another useless conference in 2012.
- Can you name one thing that was resolved in this $110,000 conference? one thing that changed anybody 's life, either in kenya or the diaspora?
You did not want to listen to the diaspora. In 2012 forget it- please gather your so called " diaspora councils" and have your taxpayer catered lavish dinners. But leave the Diaspora out of it.
I think your view Patricia are completely misplaced. If you did not benefit from the 2011 conference many of us did and we will attend the 2012 one. If you dont want to attend do not say that the entire Diaspora does not want to attend. Let me also add that balozi like any other person is unpopular among some but very popular among others - those who claim he is unpopular with all Diasporians are hence wrong.
Thanks Angie. Kenyans and Diaspora in particular have to have some faith in their government. Instead of castigating Kenya Kenya Embassy and casting aspersions in such an unprecedented manner, I suggest that they find out from the hotels in DC how much it would cost them if they were to hold a conference of the magnitude that we are talking about. Cross over the border and find out about Uganda conferences too.
Really for us Diaspora to be taken seriously with what we are doing, we too need to be seen to be responsible. Secondly, we can confront the Embassy as if they do not have the legal custodianship of government documents. In which system did we here this happen? We are lucky that we are Kenyans!