Census might deal Asal counties serious blow

North Eastern leaders led by Ahmed Abdullahi addressing the press on some leaders when they opposed the budget allocated to the region claiming there was exaggeration in the last census.He was flanked by Mohammed Mahammud, and Maalim Mohammed. [Tabitha Otwori/Standard]

This week, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji did the unimaginable. He ordered the arrest and prosecution of a Cabinet Secretary and two Principal Secretaries.

Not just any CS and PS, but two individuals who are at the epicentre of where things happen in Government.

This is in connection to the Kimwarer and Arror dams in Elgeyo Marakwet. The Treasury has been unto itself, sometimes acting with impunity and no other branch of government really wants to mess with it.

However, I wish Mr Haji did not announce all the 28 people, at least publicly.

To prosecute such a group of people on one singular offence is normally daunting. Each of the accused usually hires their own lawyers and in the end, the case takes ages or gets dismissed because of lack of sufficient evidence.

Despite my fears, Haji needs to be commended for this courageous move. The expectation now is it should be a no holds barred onslaught; let's see more prosecutions. The public is waiting anxiously to see what happens to the Ruaraka land case and similar high-profile cases of corruption.

If the ODPP prosecutes people aligned to one side of government and avoids to arrest others simply because of their proximity to the centre of power, then this renewed effort to fight corruption will be seen in a bad light.

Let's move on to a totally different subject. This year is unique for several reasons. Kenyans need to prepare for four very important events namely; referenda, Population and Housing Census and thereafter constituencies and counties boundaries de-limitation.

Punguza Mizigo

All these events have a life-changing impact on Kenyans, more so for people of northern and arid parts of this country.

As far as the referenda are concerned there are two initiatives so far. One is Punguza Mizigo being championed by lawyer Ekuro Aukot.

The other is by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team which is focused on changing the structure of the Executive so that more leaders can be accommodated after the 2022 elections.

Some are suggesting that the BBI initiative is borne out of an agreement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga to form a government which shall give the President an extension of his political life by creating the position of a powerful Prime Minister—Putin style.

Nevertheless, the two initiatives are separate and distinct. The only question is whether both referenda shall be held within the same year or not.

In August, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) will undertake a national census which shall form the basis for sharing of revenue and also guide the IEBC to plan for de-limitation of elective and administrative boundaries.

Lose constituencies

Many counties, particularly those with small populations, are likely to lose constituencies and wards.

For example, unless the population of Isiolo goes above 250,000 the likelihood of he county losing one constituency is very high. Lamu County might also face a similar fate.

Another issue worth examining is whether the outcome of the census will have any bearing on the 2022 elections considering time and resource constraints.

The IEBC has a standard formula for determining how many constituencies a county ought to get.

Currently, there are 290 constituencies and expectations are that this shall not change, meaning the number of constituencies will move from counties with lower populations to those with higher numbers of inhabitants.

The counties in the arid parts of the country shall all face a similar challenge while counties with high population density like Kiambu, Meru, and Kakamega might get extra constituencies.

Population, therefore, shall determine many policy and legislative issues. The consequences for resource allocation to the ASAL counties shall be severe for those with low population.

For these counties, a reduction in administrative and constituency boundaries will have consequencies for their piece of the pie of the sharable revenue.

The KNBS needs to ensure nomadic communities of northern Kenya get more attention during the census.

The nature of livelihoods that involves people moving from one place to another might lead to a large number of them not being counted.

Mr Guleid is the Executive Director of the Frontier Counties Development Council