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President Uhuru Kenyatta under fire over Kwale devolution forum

COAST
By Roselyne Obala | April 2nd 2014
 

By Roselyne Obala

Kwale, Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta has come under scathing attack for terming the devolution conference that kicks off today in Kwale County as a waste of public resources.

The Council of Governors (COG) reacted strongly to the President’s exclusive interview aired on Monday with a local station, where he indicated that public funds are being misused in the devolution forum.

This comes few days after governors accused the Jubilee government of scheming to derail the forum.

However, The Standard has reliably learnt that on Monday, President Kenyatta held consultative meetings with the parliamentary leadership to discuss allocation to the counties.

In attendance included Deputy President William Ruto, Majority leaders Kithure Kindiki (Senate), Adan Duale (National Assembly) Budget commitees chairmen Billow Kerrow (Senate) and Mutava Musyimi (National Assembly), Senate Devolution Chairman Kipchumba Murkomen, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and  PS Kamau Thugge.

They discussed the increased Sh226 billion allocation, which the Government argues translates into more than 30 per cent.

The President has been accused of trying to sabotage the Kwale meeting by urging senators, a section of MCAs and County Speakers to snub the conference. “This is the wastage that we are all saying we should stop. I was with MCAs only a week ago in Mombasa and I was with him (Isaac Ruto). What is it now that the governors want to discuss that they could not at that time?” asked the President.

But COG Chairman Isaac Ruto did not take the President’s sentiments lightly and questioned where the unaccounted-for Sh500 billion disclosed by the Auditor General Edward Ouko goes. “The country is set to raise Sh996 billion in internal revenue, yet when the governors ask for additional funds to facilitate development in counties, it becomes a major issue,” he said.

However, the President has publicly denied the accusation, stating that the MCAs who paid him a visit at State House had gone to discuss matters touching on their welfare and that the Kwale meeting was not featured.

Snub meeting

This position is contrary to text messages by County Assemblies Forum secretary general Elgeyo Marakwet Speaker Albert Kochei, who urged MCAs that it was advisable not to attend the conference.

A senior Senate leadership member also revealed that they had resolved to give the forum a wild berth, saying they were not involved in the planning and the process of invitation was not in order.

However, despite the President skipping the forum as he is out of the country on official trip, the new programme in our possession has now included Deputy President William Ruto, the Senate and cabinet secretaries.

This indicates that the Senate has reviewed its earlier position and will attend the conference. Kindiki however welcomed the inclusion of Senate but faulted COG for their manner of invitation.

“We are happy that now some leaders have been invited. Senate is a key player in devolution and you can only afford to ignore it at own peril,” he said.

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