Spat between senators and governors bad for devolution

Kakamega Governor and CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya. [Standard]

A key role of the Senate is to oversight county governments’ expenditure.

Governors, perhaps suffering from hubris, have since the advent of devolution resisted this critical role.

Accountability is a key pillar of good governance, all the more reason governors should not hesitate to clarify grey areas in county budgets whenever questions arise.

The Council of Governors (CoG) has advised governors to ignore summons by the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee (SPAIC) over audit queries that have raised public furore. In the 2017-2018 budget, issues that cannot be swept under the carpet have arisen.

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This follows the unearthing of questionable items of expenditure, namely pension for retired presidents, peace keeping missions and free primary education funds in county government expenditures. These are functions of the national government.

While counties have made visible gains in certain fields, they have performed below expectation, particularly after it became apparent that the ogre of corruption had found its way into counties.

For the better part of 2016 and 2017, there were ridiculous expenditures on things like carcinogenic wheelbarrows, pit latrines, curtains, hospital beds and simple gates on which millions of shillings were spent, but clearly were indefensible.

With so many audit queries surrounding counties, it is in the best interest of governors to appear before SPAIC to clarify outstanding issues without letting their egos determine their actions.

By resisting summons, the signal being sent out there is that there is something to hide, which might, or might not be true.

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With little information in the public domain regarding how counties spend their money; with little proof of prudent use, governors, as custodians of county funds will always stand indicted in the court of public opinion.

That should not be the case. Indeed, appearing before SPAIC is not an expression of guilt, rather, a desire to prove doubting Thomases wrong.

The Senate on its part must remain professional and leave politics out of its work.

Senators should not use the oversight role to undermine hard working governors just to gain political mileage for those hoping to become governors in 2022. In all, senators and governors are key cogs in the wheel of devolution.

They must work in sync, failure to which they will throw the spanner in the works for devolution.

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Were that to happen, they would defeat the very purpose for which the two-tier system of governance was founded.

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Council of GovernorsSenate Public Accounts and Investment Committee