President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trip to Nigeria has been aborted following large public outcry over the large number of officials who were to accompany the President. President Kenyatta was to attend the inauguration of newly elect Nigerian President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari that is expected to take place today. Mr. Kenyatta will be represented by Deputy President William Ruto who left the country yesterday for Nigeria. The Deputy President was accompanied by only ten government officials. The officials who had already traveled to Nigeria were ordered to return to the country with immediate effect after the trip was cancelled.
The presidential team that was meant to accompany him to Nigeria had a total of 84 government officials. The list is said to have been leaked by some officials who were not satisfied with the names. The public raised concern over the bloated delegation with questions lingering over the amount of money that would be spent on the officials during their stay in Nigeria. Sources reveal that each senior presidential delegation receives a daily allowance of up to $400 that translates to Sh40, 000 and the government caters for their accommodation and meals.
The presidency has however defended the large delegation saying the last minute cancellation of the presidential trip was as a result of the president’s tight schedule in the coming week and therefore they had no option but to cancel the visit. Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said the President will be attending a meeting in Tanzania for the East African Community, Northern Corridor Conference in Kampala on Wednesday and on Monday, the President is expected to preside over the Madaraka day celebrations.
“Provisionally, the Kenyan delegation was due to be led by his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta. However, considering the situation in Burundi, and a decision by the East African Community to hold a regional summit in Tanzania on Sunday, President Kenyatta has decided to delegate the visit to Deputy President William Ruto,” said Dr Kibicho.
The names of the officials on the delegations list contained foreign names mostly Nigerian nationalities. Dr. Kibicho termed the list as illegitimate.
“As a ministry that is responsible for this, obviously, we question the legitimacy of this (list) and we wish not to be drawn into it. I would expect that we act responsibly before we publish lists of these kinds… We don’t have Kenyans going by the names like Chinedu, Odili, Lawal… that we would be wanting to take to Nigeria.”
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Tom Amolo had defended the President’s huge delegation saying it was for a good motive and would be of benefit to Kenya.
“The reason why we are doing this is (that) Nigeria is Africa’s largest country in terms of population and economy. If you want business to succeed, make sure you are in Nigeria. That is why President Kenyatta is coming with one of the largest business delegations,” Mr Amolo had said.