Graft war can't be a Ruto, Raila chess game

President William Ruto & Azimio leader Raila Odinga. [PCS]

Give it to him, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei has a way with words. He often drowns critics and unapologetically drives home his point even if false-heartedly.

A shrewd political wingman, Cherargei can talk the hind leg off a donkey to defend the interests of President William Ruto and other Kenya Kwanza honchos.

But the glee with which the senator defended Siaya Deputy Governor William Oduol at the Senate on Monday spoke volumes. His brisk walk and bullish mien gave him away. He was a man on a mission. In Swahili, it's said when you see vessels afloat, know they have been built.

Oduol was impeached three weeks ago following a protracted tiff with Governor James Orengo prompted by shocking graft allegations. MCAs defended the governor and accused Oduol of interfering with procurement processes involving roads and delivery of seeds and fertiliser.

The push and pull saw ODM mandarins bay for Oduol's blood. A senate committee took up the matter. In the end on Monday, the deputy governor carried the day with a vote of 27 against 16. Keen observers say Oduol became an instant beneficiary of Opposition leader Raila Odinga's political wars with Ruto. Maybe and maybe not. Politics has no formula, and only the end justifies the means.

In Oduol and his ilk who have succeeded in making corruption - real or imagined - a matter of national debate, Kenyans find the much-needed hope that a broad rebirth of the nation is possible through enhanced accountability in counties.

In my view and indeed that of many Kenyans, the hitherto overlooked position of deputy governor is slowly becoming useful, and governors will soon smell the coffee. A big brother, or is it a small one, is watching!

You will agree that in 90 per cent of the 47 countries, funding gaps, inept management, graft, or simply failure by the leadership to appreciate the workings of devolution, have been the elephant in the room. But graft takes the lion's share of the blame. The malady must be crushed.

Take this to the bank. Devolution and the philosophy behind it is way beyond Ruto and Raila. It will outlive them. Senators who voted in public interest deserve praise. Those who voted to settle political scores need honest retrospection.

Saving devolution, not humiliating the Azimio leader in his home county, should have been the in-thing.

Making graft war political will not erase its repercussions on the taxpayers and Kenya's future.

Oduol's lone fight in Siaya, in a big way, may be a warning shot to political parties that they may no longer hold sway or wield the big stick. It is also a warning to party chiefs who may be having their hands in the cookie jar at the expense of county projects.

All deputy governors must make bullying their foremost anathema. They must be seen, heard and felt. However, rogue ones must be shape up or ship out. Perhaps we need a rule book on roles of top county officials.

Importantly, Kenyans must challenge authorities to probe the Siaya case with a tooth comb. No one is above the law. Similarly, other counties must be made to embrace the highest levels of budgeting and procurement efficiency.

Devolution has improved lives since 2013. The Northern counties can't agree more. But it is also true that some, if not most counties, have wasted the chance to improve Wanjiku's life out of the billions they get from the exchequer annually. Something has to give way.

Since 2013, incompetence by some governors has led to an inclination by the national government to desire to 'take back' some devolved functions.

Every country must now strive to become a success story. Let's not allow devolution tumble along the way because of graft and petty wars among officials.

-The writer is a communications practitioner. Twitter: @markoloo