5 reasons why Kenyans are losing faith in devolved county governments

Kenyans trust, aspirations and enthusiasm that devolved counties will improve development and  services delivery, is diminishing fast.  

Devolved units are getting more ridicules than praise. Ugly missteps of a few  greedy governors, Members of County Assemblies (MCAs)  and county  executives is  a blot on devolution.

If indeed inflated gates, complicated wheelbarrows, foreign trips for MCAs, bloated staff  and unabated wastage was what Kenyans aspired on devolution, then we have lost.

Reports of the Auditor General on financial operations of county executives and assemblies, paints a grim picture of misplaced priorities of county leaders. 

It demonstrates that majority of the elected Governors and MCAs seldom  understood or internalised the objectives and principles of devolution. 

Once again, in 2013, Kenyans overwhelmingly failed to elect  leaders with integrity. We failed to get honest, humble, patriotic leaders who can held accountable to citizens.  

We succeed in giving power to a bunch of greedy villains always scheming to enrich themselves at the expense of citizens.  

These are five reasons, today if Kenyans were asked to vote for devolution, they will say No. 

1.Inflated egos among the county leaders and executives

Governors and their entourage are becoming a nuisance in dusty, poor remote villages. It is annoying that poor villagers are getting accustomed to ego-seeking protocols when governors open nursery schools, milk coolers, hospital gates, visiting friends and other sundries.

We are getting more village Honourables who rarely deserve to be called Mheshimiwa. 

2. Undelivered promises

It is becoming a reality that majority of investor conferences that were held on 2013 to 2014 by various counties was just a hoax.  It was hot air. 

Factories, processing centres and grand projects were announced when governors took office.  However, time has run so fast and it is becoming impossible for some governors to realise those dreams. 

The motor racing circuit of Machakos, the high slaughter houses of Narok,  the renewable energy of Homabay, the agro processing and value addition cottage industries are yet to be realised. 

3. Corruption and greedy 

The Auditor General is currently overwhelmed with suspect audit queries.  Reading county audit reports sends a feeling that the County  Executive and Assemblies are hell-bent in get sitting allowances, cheat on meals and travel allowances, fake conference packages, and even hosting "virtual" investors. 

Expenditures in the counties are exaggerated. 

“The information that I am getting from the veterinary department is that these are not the ordinary wheelbarrows that we know. These are wheelbarrows that are made of stainless, non-carcinogenic material and are used in the food industry,” said Bungoma County Governor, Lusaka  when justifying why a wheelbarrow was bought for Kshs.109,000.

4. Limited funds for development due to high recurrent expenditures 

High wages paid to bloated county staff has made it difficult for counties to deliver on development projects. 

"High wage bills that refuses to go away. Our hands are tied by huge number of staff who were inherited from the defunct county councils," said Kisumu Governor, Jack Ranguma. 

Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation of the public service report noted that majority of county governments were burdened with excessive staff. 

These included large numbers of poorly educated and unskilled and yet over compensated employees inherited from the defunct local governments. 

The launched county integrated development plans are not implemented due to limited funding for development.  Most these development plans are now gathering dust.   

5. Increased ethnicity and nepotism 

Ethnic and Diversity Audit of Counties surveys indicates that majority of counties have up to 90% of their employees from one tribe. Such moves goes against the spirit of national cohesion and integration. 

Further, some counties have personalised county affairs, this is to the chagrin of other citizens. 

Conclusion

Despite these challenges, devolution has brought essential services closer to the people. 

We have seen grading of feeder roads in Bomet, Kisii, Baringo, Meru. Some counties in North Eastern are getting tarmac roads for the first time due to devolution. 

Solar street lights with rechargeable batteries and has increased business hours among residents of Kisii, Homabay, among others. 

Devolution is revitalising service delivery in agriculture, health, infrastructure and other innovations. 

Despite these success, we should take collective measures to address growing corruption, greedy and self-aggrandisement among county leaders and staff.  

Such selfish and retrogressive practices can easily erode positive steps already realised through devolution. 

Submitted By Elizaphan Ogechi