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Governors should be subjected to full probe, including prosecution

OPINION
By Eliud Owalo | January 14th 2020
Council of Governors members led by Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya at a past media brief. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Allegations of corruption perpetuated by some county bosses, arising from pilferage of colossal sums of public funds, have raised great concern amongst the people. 

This has been necessitated by the fact that governors are elected to offices to, inter alia, responsibly and prudently manage public resources for the benefit of the people by initiating relevant projects and providing the necessary services.

In the same vein, as an executive officer of the county government, the governor is expected to be above reproach in the management of county affairs, including public resources. This is critical for the realisation of the objects and principals of devolved government as articulated in chapter 11 of the constitution.

However, it is now clear that a good number of sitting governors have failed the high standards of rectitude, integrity, administrative and financial propriety required of them in the management of public resources.

By virtue of being the second and lower tier of government in our devolved system, county governments are expected to improve the welfare of the people at the grass roots by keeping abreast with, and addressing the problems and needs of the people.

However, some governors have used their offices to mercilessly and inhumanely deny development and services to the people in their counties.

Full probe

Instead, such governors have enriched themselves through appropriation of public resources, including funds through malpractices in the award of contracts to business associates and relatives, hiring office staff in a partisan manner and providing services and initiating projects without any sense of social justice to every group in the society.

This is why such governors must be subjected to full probe and if found culpable, be prosecuted and disgracefully ousted from office.

Accordingly, therefore, the recent High Court ruling by Justice Mumbi Ngugi barring governors under probe from accessing their respective offices while allegations against them are still under judicial determination is sound and spot on. Indeed, the judge has through that ruling not only emerged as the beacon of hope, but also the voice of reason in the fight against graft.

Her insightful ruling needs to be upheld and should indeed be instructive and inspiring to other officials in the judiciary. The expected end results of her ruling will be effective investigation and prosecution leading to asset recovery and jail terms for the miscreants.

Instructively, our country’s laws, policy and regulations governing the management of public resources, including funds by public officers, is largely clear and explicit.

For instance, Article 201(d) of the Constitution states that “public money shall be used in a prudent and responsible way”. This position is further underscored by Article 10 on national values and principles of governance and Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity, both of which expect high standards to be espoused by elected or those appointed to public offices.

Corrupt governors

Thus, going forward, all citizens of Kenya must resolve this year (2020) to consistently and courageously confront corrupt county officials, whether elected or appointed to public offices. Such confrontation should be ruthless, drastic and decisive so as to serve as a lesson to would be corrupt officials in future.

In view of the underdevelopment, our society and counties are subjected to as a result of pilferage of public resources and funds, the reported intended move by the Senate to shield corrupt governors from probe and prosecution while in office is not only ill-advised, but must also be aggressively opposed by all Kenyans in the interest of the larger present and future generations.

In any case, since the Constitution is a promulgation of the people, it therefore follows that the raison de’tre for the existence of institutions, such as Parliament, is to function in the interest of the people and not to perpetuate the interests of a few greedy and selfish governors.

In particular, the Senate is required to oversee the functions of county governments headed by governors and thereby ensure that their activities are consistent with the law and in the interest of the people.

In the same vein, the Council of Governors should provide advisory opinion to county bosses on matters relating to affairs as opposed to sanctioning and protecting financial impropriety within county governments.

 

Mr Owalo is a Management Consultant in Strategy’ formulation, implementation and control.

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