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The millions Raila paid US consultants for election

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NASA Leader Raila Odinga

Details have emerged of the millions of shillings Opposition chief Raila Odinga spent on the botched August 8 election, including Sh47 million plus expenses to a US consultancy.

One mandate was to set up an elaborate parallel tallying centre — it never happened.

Documents exclusively obtained by the Star include the contract Raila signed with Aristotle International Inc, the US-based campaign data mining company.

Its officials were dramatically deported by the Jubilee government, four days to the General Election.

The deportation of Aristotle CEO John Aristotle Phillips, an American, and Canadian staffer Andreas Katsouris is believed to have derailed Raila’s plans for elaborate parallel tallying.

Two Ghanaians, Harry Mackinson and Jonathan Boye, were also expelled from the country on August 4. That was the same day a NASA tallying centre in Westlands was raided and vandalised.

NASA blamed state agents and Jubilee, which denied the accusation.

The two Ghanaians were turned away at the airport because they did not have proper visas.

The government also deported two other foreigners whom NASA had flown in because they did not have work visas.

Aristotle International is the same company that consulted for Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye and opposition parties in DRC Congo.

The documents indicate Raila paid Aristotle International Sh23 million for two-months, later extended for another Sh14 million.

Email exchanges between Aristotle and Raila’s team were mainly addressed to Willis Otieno, head of campaign secretariat, and businessman Jimi Wanjigi.

Election Day was to be the climax of their work..

The firm’s mandate was expanded a month to the polls, to, among other tasks, tap into global pollsters, an agreement costing another Sh14 million.

That did not include business class airfare, accommodation, meals, communication and other expenses.

In fact, before the two Aristotle officials would leave Washington for Kenya, NASA had to wire Sh2.5 million for transport.

“In addition to fees, you are also responsible for travel expenses. We ask you to deposit $25,000 with us to defray these costs. We will provide a regular and a detailed accounting to you. Should we exhaust the deposit, we will request additional payment,” an email sent to Otieno said.

According to the Opposition budget breakdown for July-August, NASA was to spend Sh301,820,944 on media advertising.

Most of the money — Sh188,366,124 — was to be channelled to Royal Media Stations through its 11 radio stations and Citizen TV.

Sources told the Star NASA technocrats and think tank staff were paid an average Sh800,000 monthly.

The Coalition had tens of high-profile technocrats, including economist David Ndii, University of Nairobi don Adams Oloo, ex-EALA member Abubakar Zein, Koitamet ole Kina, as well as lawyers Paul Mwangi and Ben Sihanya.

The money also covered space, salaries and logistics, including hiring helicopters and vehicles.

The cost of hiring a chopper ranges from Sh130,500 to Sh174,000 per hour.

Raila and the NASA Pentagon would use three choppers.

The documents have lifted the lid on the massive campaign expenditure that characterised the 2017 polls.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s expenditure remains a closely guarded secret.

However, his Jubilee Party also contracted global data mining company Cambridge Analytica, hired by tycoons including US Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The initial Aristotle International consultancy had a six-point mandate.

This included streamlining the campaign organisation, messaging and ensuring Raila’s derived maximum benefit from his public appearances.

This was the primary responsibility of CEO Phillips, a pioneer in strategic applications of technology to politics and political communication.

“We understand the campaign has been perceived as lacking message focus, and that it sometimes fails to speak with one voice on key issues. Mr Phillips will work with the candidate and senior staff to define a comprehensive message schedule, after a review of the current campaign strategy and available public opinion,” the contract states.

Katsouris was to be in charge of field organisation, voter outreach and election integrity.

“Mr Katsouris has a significant experience managing national efforts to deter and detect electoral fraud and to publicise findings in a compelling manner. We will asses the ability of your field organisation to deploy Election Day poll watchers and to transmit information, both quantitative and qualitative, to a central location,” the contract states.

Even before the contract was executed, the consultants warned Raila Jubilee could disrupt his plans for parallel tallying.

“We expect the government may try to disrupt your operations and thus we will offer recommendations on backup communication efforts. You will also need secure information technology resources and statistical expertise to process information as it is received overnight on August 8 and 9,” the consultants stated.

On July 7, the contract was revised to include opinion polling, data modeling and press operations.

Aristotle subcontracted Zogby Analytics, headed by veteran pollster John Zogby to asses Raila’s chances of unseating Uhuru.

For the new contract, the US firm was to be paid an additional Sh14 million.

It’s understood raw data from the field was collected by Tifa Research headed by Maggie Ireri.

“Together with Mr Katsouris of Aristotle, Mr Zogby will advise on survey questions and methodology, with particular eye on generating data that can be acted upon by the campaign. Mr Zogby will also take possession of raw data and provide a separate report on key findings, where appropriate,” the contract stated.

On July 20, Zogby released the poll showing Raila was the preferred candidate, with 47.4 per cent of registered voters, against 46.7 per cent for Uhuru.

IEBC had tried to cap expenditure of presidential candidates at Sh5.2 billion. It didn’t happen.

Their strict and detailed proposals were discussed in Parliament but not enacted into law; they were suspended until 2022, opening the way to raise the cap.

Candidates are, however, are required to report their expenditure 30 days after the polls.

Under the proposed Campaign Finance Regulations, Nairobi governor candidates would be allowed to spend as much as Sh432 million.

 

-www.the-star.co.ke

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