The United States ambassador to Kenya confirmed that Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his family were behind the 2billion maize scandal in 2009. Odinga also fired then Agriculture Minister now Deputy President of Kenya Mr William Samoei Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri so that public debate would focus on the two and not his corrupt and thieving family.
Raila Odinga’s family led by his step-son Fidel Odinga sold Maize from the strategic grain reserve to Southern Sudan. Though Agriculture minister William Ruto had banned all exports of maize, The Odinga’s were still getting away with it. Once in Southern Sudan, the Odinga’s would sell the commodity for more than three times the cost compared to Kenya.
While NCPB was selling the maize to millers and middlemen at a price of Sh1750 (US$23) per 90 kilogramme bag, the Odinga’s stole from NCPB and repackaged the commodity and exported it to Southern Sudan where they were selling it for KES Sh6000 ($80) for the same quantity.
The situation was compounded by the fact that thousands of maize bags valued at over Sh150 million ($2 million) were allocated to Companies and middle men directly linked to the Odinga’s.
The scam is further exposed in the damaging Wikileaks cables whereby it evidence shows Prime Minister Raila Odinga attempted to suspend former Agriculture Minister William Ruto to divert attention from his family’s involvement in the Sh2 billion maize scam. Secret cables sent by US Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, to Washington and now released by WikiLeaks allege Raila wanted to create confusion when he said he was suspending Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri. It claims Raila wanted public debate to focus on the two, and not his family’s role in the scandal.
According to Ambassador Ranneberger, Raila took the action not only because he wanted to be seen as fighting corruption, but to divert attention from his family’s involvement in the maize scandal. The maize and education scandals came to light in January 2009. The following month, Kibaki suspended key officials in the Agriculture and Education ministries, a day before Raila announced he was sending the ministers home. “We have credible reports that members of Odinga’s family, presumably with his knowledge and involvement, were involved in the maize scandal. Thus, at the time he made his dramatic February 14 statements, Odinga was facing serious pressures on both the corruption and constitutional review issues,” wrote Ranneberger.
“It seems highly possible that Odinga made the announcement regarding Ongeri and Ruto knowing that it would cause a huge political and constitutional flap, and thus divert focus on the corruption. Ida Odinga’s son Fidel Odinga,
“On Raila’s leadership, the ambassador says there is increasing disillusionment in the ODM and that Odinga does not show leadership rather behaves like an excited freshman”. “The ODM seems both directionless and less united than before because it does not have an agenda and leadership.”