More than 8,000 National Youth Service (NYS) recruits have been sent home after their passing-out parade was delayed. The passing-out parade has been delayed by five months for lack of funds to meet the cost of the elaborate ceremony. Reliable sources within Gilgil NYS Training Institute told The Standard that the recruits, who have been at the camp for 11 months, were sent home on Thursday to await further communication. “There is no day recruits are allowed to go home in the middle of the course. Even us we went through the same training and it’s the posting station that gives such a permission, not the college,” said the source.
The source said trainees were being served black tea in the morning after powder milk imported from China during former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru’s tenure was suspended. “The training institute is completely rotten and Kenyans should be told the truth. Those young boys and girls are suffering in the camps and surviving under harsh conditions,” he revealed.
The recruits have been undergoing paramilitary training for the past 11 months. The training normally takes six months. They joined in May last year and the passing-out was supposed to be held in October, according to a senior officer who spoke in confidence. “The passing-out ceremony has been delayed. This group has overstayed and we should be training another group now but that is not possible. We anticipate that the graduation will delay for a little longer,” said the senior officer.
Multiple sources at the Gilgil institute said there was no money to buy uniforms, spades and berets for the passing-out ceremony. The sources said some recruits have since deserted the camp with about 8,700 still waiting to graduate. The President normally graces the occasion. “It has taken too long, forcing some parents to come for their children. Life here is unbearable,” a recruit claimed.
The officer said the delay could be a strategic move by the Executive to avoid bad publicity in presiding over the graduation in an institution that has been marred with massive graft, with Sh791 million stolen.
However, as the recruits eagerly await the big day, their predecessors deployed in various parts of the country to implement Government projects claimed to have stayed for days without proper meals. “For the last one week, we have been eating ugali and green grams. They tell us there is no money to purchase vegetables,” said a recruit deployed to Rift Valley.
They said they were paid Sh500 last year in September and it was not until February when another Sh1,000 was deposited into their bank accounts. “Out of the Sh500 we could only be allowed to withdraw Sh300 and out of the Sh1,000 last month, we only went home with Sh700,” NYS officer revealed. And more than 50 NYS drivers and mechanics are yet to be paid their allowances amounting to Sh21 million.
Devolution and Planning ministry top officials may have been privy to suspect dealings among NYS staff months before the revelation of a scandal in mid last year. A trail of documents already in the public domain attest to top officials’ apprehension with the integrity of procurement and supplies officers at NYS long before the scam came to light.
The back-and-forth communication contained in the letters also points to a disconnect and some tension between top NYS officials and senior officers in the parent ministries. In particular, the back-and-forth communication between then Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru and NYS Director General Nelson Githinji on the matter of transfers and procurement of goods, best demonstrates the prevailing tension before the scandal was unearthed.