President Uhuru Kenyatta has contracted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to oversee the Jubilee administration’s flagship projects in a deal likely to cost taxpayers millions of shillings.
The deal signed last month will see Mr Blair’s African Governance Initiative (AGI) second technocrats to the newly formed President’s Delivery Unit (PDU) to fast-track the implementation of the key projects.
They include the Konza Techno City, Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport corridor (Lapsset) and media monitoring, especially the coverage of Cabinet secretaries.
The deal between the PDU and the technocrats comes hot on the heels of another agreement between the government and a US firm to advance Kenya’s interests and improve its image in the West.
The second deal between the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the influential US firm Podesta Group took effect on February 3. The State will pay the company $30,000 (Sh2.7 million) a month, on top of other expenses such as business-class travel and accommodation.
The contract runs up to May but can be renewed for one more year.
Both the African Governance Initiative and Mr Kenyatta’s office remained tight-lipped on the cost of the contract. A spokesperson of Mr Blair’s firm maintained the deal would not cost the government any money.
“AGI is pleased to be working with the Government of Kenya. We are a registered charity that does not make a profit. There is no cost for our work,” said the spokesperson identified as Jonathan Tanner.
For his part, President Kenyatta’s spokesperson Manoah Esipisu refused to comment, saying he would give a response on the matter “at an appropriate time”.
But highly placed sources in the Kenyatta administration disclosed the government would pay Mr Blair a one-off amount for the contract said to run into hundreds of millions of shillings.
It will also foot the allowances, accommodation and travel costs of the team and that of technocrats.
“The government will pay Mr Blair a lump sum amount, I do not have exact figures, but it is as big as the budget of one of the major parastatals.
“It takes care of the salaries and allowances of the advisors, as well as their accommodation and travel,” said one of the sources.
Mr Esipisu had, in an earlier interview, maintained that the government would not pay “a cent”.
“Mr Blair is not advising the government. It is a partnership between the Africa Governance Initiative and the Presidential Delivery Unit. We are not paying anything. Instead we are getting more in return,” said Mr Esipisu.
“The initiative has helped quite a lot of African governments. Certainly, it is not a peasant organisation. It is well- funded and they are partnering with the delivery unity at no cost to the Kenyan taxpayer,” he was quoted as saying.
Significantly, it was President Kenyatta who announced the partnership when he hosted Mr Blair in Nairobi last month.
“The President’s Delivery Unit will be the instrument that helps to ensure that programmes and projects initiated are completed.
“The unit would help the government prioritise and translate our promises and policies into practical and achievable objectives,” said the President during the meeting.
“The President’s Delivery Unit is meant to take the promises that the Presidency has made and convert them into action plans, which can be achieved within a promised deadline. I found the unit instrumental to me in ensuring that I kept focused and delivered tangible results,” said Mr Blair.
A bulletin from the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit said: “The unit borrows from a model set up by Rtd Hon Tony Blair during his tenure as prime minister of the United Kingdom. Kenya’s PDU now receives technical capacity support from Tony Blair’s initiative.”
“The unit has developed a web-based tracking tool to drive transparency around progress made towards completion of key projects. The intranet tool is accessible to the President at the click of a button, and he is personally able to review progress on set targets. The team would regularly give independent reports to the President on the status of identified flagship projects,’ stated the bulletin.
The unit is based at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre and is headed by Dr Steve Ndele.
A spokesman for African Governance Initiative was quoted by The Telegraph confirming that he was in talks to place advisors in the unit.
“AGI is in the early stages of providing support to a Presidential Delivery Unit,” said the spokesman.
“We will be working shoulder to shoulder with Kenyan public servants on the government’s priorities for improving the lives of ordinary people,” he added
“We work in countries only at the request of their governments. And we support them to deliver their own priorities rather than telling them what those priorities should be. We help make Presidents’ offices work so they can lead effectively,” AGI’s says on its official website.
SOURCE: Daily Nation