Governors say they did their best with devolution

The Council of Governors paused for a photo after a devolution address on July 8, 2022.  [Elvis Ogina, Standad]

The Council of Governors (CoG) has listed the hits and misses of devolution since 2013 when the devolved system of government was introduced.

Speaking during the last State of Devolution Address, CoG chairman and Embu Governor Martin Wambora said devolution has brought meaningful gains in various sectors despite the impact of Covid-19 in the last two years.

Sectors that recorded gains were health, arid and semi-arid lands and disaster management, infrastructure, environment, agriculture, urban planning, housing, lands, infrastructure and energy, trade, investment and manufacturing.

Others were tourism and natural resources management, blue economy, gender, education, youth, sports, culture and social services.

“In Disaster Risk Management Legislation Policy Frameworks, 12 counties enacted Disaster Management Acts and 10 put in place disaster-management polices, while 13 developed county emergency operation plans,” said Mr Wambora.

In addition, eight counties have allocated two per cent of their annual budget to the County Emergency Fund Kitty. He said health facilities increased by six per cent from 13,190 to 13,772 currently.

“Public facilities account for 46 per cent (6,332), private at 44 per cent (6,022), faith-based organisations at seven per cent (1,027) and non-governmental facilities at three percent (391),” he said.

The council also decried delayed disbursement of the equitable share of revenue to counties, thus affecting the devolved units in performing their mandate.

“Nine years in the devolved system of government, disbursement of county funds continue to delay unjustifiably in contravention of Article 219 as read together with section 176 of Public Finance Management Act 2012,” said Kisii Governor James Ongwae.

“These legislation frameworks clearly provide for the timely disbursement of equitable share to help counties procure goods and services,” he added. 

Mr Ongwae, who is also the CoG vice chairman, said all county governments are in arrears of pending bills and unable to pay county staff, suppliers or offer essential services.

“At the moment, the National Treasury is yet to disburse Sh29.6 billion owed to all the 47 counties for June for financial year 2021-2022. We implore upon you to direct the National Treasury to disburse the remaining funds to counties,” he said.

The CoG also asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to direct National Treasury to allow counties use the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) until July 15, 2022.

“This will enable counties process and complete transactions already in progress under the IFMIS in the counties,” he noted.

Defence Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa, who is also the current acting Devolution CS, thanked the first CoG chairman Isaac Ruto, followed by Peter Munya, Josphat Nanok, Wycliffe Oparanya and now Mr Wambora for conducting peaceful elections whenever there was a transition.

“After ten years of devolution, we are going through a transition and we will have to work together with a new crop of about 35 governors,” said Mr Wamalwa.

“As we look ahead for the next ten years of devolution journey, and as the national government we shall be reviewing our devolution policy,” he added.

Chief Justice Martha Koome, in a speech read by Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala, said the first phase of ten years of devolution has acted as a leadership laboratory for leadership, where some governors have emerged to top national leadership.

She said it is through devolution that some counties were able to offer cesarean section operations for the first time, while other marginalised areas got tarmacked roads for the first time.

The event also saw a farewell party for 21 pioneer second-term governors whose tenures have ended. 

CJ Koome lauded the outgoing governors for their support to the judiciary by providing land and allowing setting up of courts to expand access to justice.