Devolution was hailed as a milestone in addressing regional inequalities that had marginalised some areas for decades.
Through devolution, government services were decentralised and taken closer to the people. Devolution allowed people to determine their own fate through engagement with leaders in addressing their unique challenges. Ideally, devolution bestowed upon the people participatory democracy that makes them feel they are directing their own destinies.
Devolution, therefore, became the cure for skewed allocation of resources. Rightly so, it has achieved a lot, bringing to the people services hitherto unheard of. Mandera County, for instance, was able to carry out its first Caesarean Section under the devolved system of governance while Samburu and Lamu county residents got their first ever tarmac roads post devolution.
Yet despite all the great achievements of devolution, there is a downside many thought they had escaped; corruption. Annual reports from the Auditor General’s office paint a gloomy picture of sleaze in which most of the Sh1 trillion allocated to counties is pilfered.
While many thought corruption only permeated national government offices, the vice appears to have found a firm foothold in counties where a number of governors face charges of graft which, cumulatively, amounts to Sh100 billion according to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
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Against public expectations, many governors have chosen to go against the spirit and letter of devolution by diverting public funds to benefit themselves, their relatives and cronies through shady procurement deals.
Some of the counties whose governors have been charged with corruption include Migori, Garissa, Tharaka Nithi, Kiambu and Nairobi. Wastage and extravagance in counties should be stopped. Emphasis should be placed on viable development projects that have value for the taxpayers.