Don't claw back on devolution, governors tell CSs


President William Ruto, DP Rigathi Gachagua, Governors Susan Kihika,  Gladys Wanga and COG chairperson Anne Waiguru with other Governors and Cabinet Secretaries during the second day of Kenya Kwanza retreat in Naivasha on February 20, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The Cabinet retreat in Naivasha entered the second day with the Council of Governors (CoG) calling on Cabinet Secretaries to stop interfering with devolution.

The council accused some unnamed CS of trying to claw back on some devolved functions, leading to a fallout between the national and county governments.

In the last couple of months, the two levels of government have clashed over the subsidized fertilizer programme and the Universal Health Coverage.

But addressing the joint session between the Cabinet and the governors, President William Ruto directed the two levels of the government to work together.

Ruto acknowledged that the government would have made major strides if it had worked with governors from the onset of devolution and shunned toxic relationships.

“The reason I invited the Council of Governors to this meeting, is to make sure that the CSs and PSs’ understand that the counties are our partners and not competitors,” he said.

The President encouraged the Cabinet to work closely with the governors, saying that turf wars would only end up hurting the electorate.

“The government supports devolution 100 per cent, and a loss to the Council of Governors is a loss to the country,” he said.

The President assured governors of the national government’s support irrespective of their political affiliation and challenged them to reciprocate.

“Recently I visited Homa Bay to launch the affordable housing project, and many people questioned this decision but beyond politics, we have a country,” he said.

CoG Chair Ann Waiguru told the President how governors had been forced to restrain from fighting some CS who were taking up their duties.

She said that the Council fully supports the government’s development projects but called on the Cabinet to give counties a chance to deliver.

The Kirinyaga governor took issue with incidents where some CSs were appointing officers for jobs that could be done by the county governments.

“Some CSs feel like their portfolio is holding them back in office, and they are trying to claw back the gains of devolution, and we shall not allow this,” she said.

Waiguru warned that any attempts to take over some devolved functions by the Cabinet would be rejected by the governors.

“We have had issues in the health and agriculture sector where some roles are being duplicated, and if this was resolved, we would have made major strides,” she said.

The National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u noted that the appreciating Kenya shilling would help address rising inflation.

“The noise over the weak shilling has gone down, and we expect interest rate and the high inflation rate to come down,” he said.

Treasury Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo, said that the country’s revenue could rise higher if all Kenyans agreed to pay taxes.

He noted that of the 20 million Kenyans who had Kenya Revenue Authority PIN, only 8 million were remitting taxes saying that there was a need to engage the public further on the matter.