Treasury blamed for 'shutdown' of devolved services

Council of Governors vice-chair Mwangi wa Iria hit out at the National Treasury, saying that it was “shoving figures down counties throats. [Standard]
Governors yesterday held a protest march on the streets of Nairobi on their way to the Supreme Court to submit a petition over deadlock on a crucial Bill on county funds.

Joined by some senators, the county chiefs accused the national Executive of spearheading a plot to kill devolution as the standoff over the Division of Revenue Bill escalated.

The county leaders said that counties were headed for a complete shutdown through a planned plot from the top and executed by the National Assembly.

The leaders also lamented that constitutional institutions such as the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) were being trashed.

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Council of Governors chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya said that the National Assembly and Treasury had been frustrating devolution for the last seven years.

“Maybe we made a mistake when we came up with a new Constitution because the new law was meant to clip the powers of the President but in the process, it has created another imperial institution in the name of the National Assembly and the Treasury. These two institutions have been frustrating us for the last seven years,” said Oparanya. 

Defend devolution

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Oparanya was speaking at Kenyatta International Convention Centre during a high-stakes public participation forum roping in leaders from all the 47 counties including Senators and MCAs at which they vowed to defend devolution.

Council of Governors vice-chair Mwangi wa Iria hit out at the National Treasury, saying that it was “shoving figures down counties throats.”

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“Counties have been closed and that is the reality of the matter. They have been closed down through a deliberate planned scheme,” said wa Iria. 

“Institutions such as Commission of Revenue Allocation have been muted. Treasury has taken over, we are dealing with an imperial Treasury where figures which MPs are discussing are from the Treasury,” added the Murang’a governor.

Iria said that MPs were “highly compromised” through lucrative allowances in order to strangle devolution.

Iria called for a unity among county leaders, saying that they should form a movement to protect devolution that could even produce a President in 2022.

To blame

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Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said that both the Executive and Parliament were to blame.

Muriithi said Kenya was going back to the 1960s when the country's first bid at devolution was deliberately sabotaged by the Government.

Siaya Senator James Orengo urged governors not to bow down to the Government as they were both equals and urged them to hold the planned summit in “neutral ground.”

“The Council of Governors' future engagements and meetings with Government be held in neutral territory, once you go to someone’s office you will be told to wait,” he said.

Orengo said the Government was fighting devolution and spoiling for a split.

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“Even if people are working together it does not mean that now you’ve got a licence to do wrong things. Even in a marriage when you become cruel to the other spouse … you are creating grounds for separation and we don’t want to separate, we want devolution,” he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen had no kind words for the Executive, saying that Kenya was under a “functioning” dictatorship.

He blamed the handshake between President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga for the impasse.

“We are actually a functional dictatorship as a country because at the moment nobody can ask questions, they just sit down and decide whether counties can get money or not,” he said.

He said that if left unchecked, the current Parliament could take Kenya back to the era of one party rule. 

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina accused President Kenyatta of witnessing the death of devolution " just like his father" in the 1960s.

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NairobiSupreme CourtDivision of Revenue BillNational AssemblyDefend devolutionLaikipia Governor Ndiritu MuriithiNarok Senator Ledama Ole KinaMwangi wa IriaCouncil of Governors