The Council of Governors has called on counties to stop advertising with the Nation Media Group over recent report linking eight governors to graft.
In a memo seen by this writer addressed to all governors, CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya stated the council arrived at the resolution during an Extra-Ordinary Council of Governors meeting held on Tuesday, September 8.
According to the Kakamega Governor the council had followed up some of the reporting and found that they are “lacking merit”.
“Therefore in the meeting it was resolved that henceforth, no County Government shall advertise with the Nation Media Group merchandise until the situation is rectified, ” the memo dated September 9 reads.
“I, therefore, urge all County Governments to immediately cease engaging with NMG merchandise and advice the County Officers about this until further notice.”
Oparanya further threatened to take similar action against any other media house “that will carry salacious stories about Governors without verifying”.
The Media Council of Kenya has, however, condemned the move saying it’s in bad faith and a threat to media freedom.
“Any complaint against any journalist or media enterprise is to be channelled to the Media Complaints Commission operating under the auspices of the Media Council of Kenya for determination and appropriate action. These are the stipulations of the law and regulations governing the media sector, which binds the public, government and media itself, ” MCK Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Accordingly, the CoG cannot of its own accord term the media as unprofessional. Such action amounts to taking the law into their own hands and proceeding to pronounce judgement on an issue it is not made to prosecute. The correct action would be for the CoG to lodge its complaint to the Media Complaints Commission to determine the matter guided by the ethical code of journalism appended to the media law in Kenya.”
The CEO said the governors’ resolution amounts to manipulation and intimidation of the media and should be withdrawn forthwith.
“Public money should never be used as tool of control and manipulation by those entrusted with its usage. This supposed sanction by the Governors calls into question the very process and rationale for financial decision-making at the county-level, ” said Omwoyo.
“By way of this communication, the Council of Governors should note quite clearly that the Media Council of Kenya and media stakeholders as a whole, will hold them responsible for any attacks, intimidation, harassment and interference with the work of journalists in their respective jurisdictions.
“The Council of Governors should withdraw its statement and instead work within the laid down procedures for filing and determination of media complaints.”
Similar sentiments were shared by other Kenyans including Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen who called out the governors for the move to blacklist NMG over the graft story.
“COG under the leadership of Oparanya has become parochial,petty and myopic. A story about governors is not about county. Does it mean County advertisements are dished based on the benevolence of individual governors?Why are governors interfering with procurement matters?” said Murkomen.
This statement is enough for @EACCKenya to investigate these governors.The should not and must not use count resources as a shield against accountability. I know in the list governors who already recorded statements with EACC. Don’t intimidate the public& the media. @NationAfrica
— KIPCHUMBA MURKOMEN, E.G.H (@kipmurkomen) September 9, 2020
With due respect, that resolution by the @GovWOparanya-led Council of Governors on @NationAfrica Media Group is utter nonsense. Public funds cannot be used to shape content in your favour and all county governments and governors must accept robust scrutiny. Use the right of reply
— David Makali (@davidmakali1) September 9, 2020