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‘Nation’ headline that Raila AU office gobbled Kenya’s billions was bad

“Treasury ‘paid billions’ for Raila’s AU office” the Saturday Nation headline screamed February 23.

Was that factual? No. And the Nation knew it, which is why they put, “paid billions” in quotation marks.

The paper was quoting National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa. No other source was cited to support this headline.

In other words, a big, sensational headline was slapped on the newspaper based on a single, partisan source.

Ichung’wa is a “top-ranking member of President William Ruto’s government”, the Nation admitted. And the Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja Coalition is challenging the legitimacy of Ichung’wa’s side.

Ironically, the story content didn’t back the headline 100 per cent. It turned out to be a he-said, she-said affair.

The story by Samwel Owino said that Ichung’wa claimed that Odinga’s work since October 2018 as the AU’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development, which ended last week, could have cost the Kenyan taxpayer at least Sh2 billion.

Odinga’s office swiftly rejected the claim, the story said.

The Nation wrote that funding details and the workings of Odinga’s African Union office had “largely remained under wraps until Wednesday’s move by the AU to end the contract”. Translation: funding and operations were a mystery.

But never mind. The Auditor General’s report shows Kenya paid Sh4.9 billion in 2020-2021 alone to the African Union and other international organisations, the story said in part.

Were those billions channelled to Odinga’s bank account? Well, the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary at the time, Ukur Yatani, “did not respond to Saturday Nation’s call and text message”, the story said helpfully.

And there you have it. One source said it was raining outside. The other source said it was not. The Nation did not go out to check. Headline still said it was raining outside. The last person out turned off the lights. And venders sold the newspaper.

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