Leaders protest bid to slash devolution funds

Garissa Governor Ali Korane (second right) leaves Lantern Hotel after inspecting preparations for the three-day summit for Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) on Thursday. [Abdlmalik Hajir, Standard]
Leaders from frontier counties yesterday vowed to push for development in their counties, saying that they have been marginalised.

Speaking during the opening of a three-day summit for Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) in Garissa, the leaders said calls for referendum should be issue-based and not used as a tool to farther undermine the region.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said the marginalised counties can’t afford to be divided in the wake of attempts by the national government to “deny” them the much-needed equalisation funds.

“I have always asked myself this question, how come that despite having 30 per cent representation in the National Assembly, we cannot still push to have issues of interest to us addressed? We have 14 governors out 47, but we cannot push our agenda. This is a challenge I want this conference to address,” said Mr Nanok.

A joint conference of FCDC governors and the Pastoral Parliamentary Group (PPG) - which is expected to conclude on Sunday - kicked off yesterday in Garissa. Those in attendance included governors Ali Korane (Garissa), Ali Roba (Mandera), Mohamed Abdi (Wajir), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo).

The Marsabit governor said pastoral counties will fight for equalisation funds to uplift marginalised and underdeveloped areas. He termed as shameful the government’s decision to reduce funds meant for devolved units.

Other issues that were discussed are education, gender, violent extremism, radicalisation of youth and inter-community conflicts. Mr Korane noted that the major challenges in pastoral counties are diseases, drought, lack of structured market and policies from the national government.

“The threat of terrorism and radicalisation are real in our counties and these have also hampered development. We should therefore remain steadfast and work collectively to eliminate these threats,” the governor told the delegates.

Members of Parliament from the  PPG led by their patron and Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale, were also in attendance.

The conference comes at a time when the World Bank has funded projects in FCDC counties to the tune of Sh120 billion.Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi said the funds will go along way in transforming livelihoods in the region.

Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa, who is also the secretary general for the PPG  expressed concerns over the upcoming census, claiming that there has been a tendency by some leaders to underestimate the population of pastroral counties.

“Some people have always questioned our numbers, claiming that our regions are full of trees and animals.But they should know that we have numbers and this will be proved in the coming census,” she said.

She alleged that the Commission for Revenue Allocation wanted to further marginalise frontier counties by cutting the funds allocated to the regions.

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Frontier Counties Development CouncilDevolutionMarginalised CommunitiesPastoral Parliamentary GroupReferendum