Governors’ council supports proposals to boost devolution

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 00:00 |
A section of political leaders including governors, their deputies and MPs who attended the BBI report launch at the Bomas of Kenya. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The Council of Governors (CoG) yesterday welcomed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposals to strengthen devolution but said there are still pending issues that need to be addressed.

CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said it is through dialogue that the country will progress and while equity is guaranteed, economic development should reflect the resources in the country.

Governors seek at least 45 per cent allocation to counties, saying it will go a long way in implementing devolved functions.

Oparanya said the joy of governors, who he described as the champions of devolution, is that among things the report addresses is the challenge facing devolution.

“We will look at this document and our Ugatuzi initiative and see where we can meet. The devolution family will be robust in ensuring that devolved units are properly resourced and facilitated,” he said in his address at the Bomas of Kenya.

Oparanya said BBI provides an opportunity to develop a governance system devoid of tribal coalitions and electoral civil strife. 

He said the country’s resolve should be to interrogate the proposals contained in the report without bias and seek answers as to why President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga chose the path of dialogue

Other issues Oparanya said require a critical emphasis is whether the country is able to achieve good governance and leadership and whether there is a clear path towards achieving gender parity 

“We need to analyse the recommendation to have more resources channelled to counties and the ability to disburse power and how to guarantee that going forward corruption is not the way of life,” he added.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said as much as they support the initiative as CoG, they will consult further and give greater details. He said when they first heard rumours that BBI was about division of seats, governors decided to have their own Ugatuzi Initiative. 

He said they then issued a statement, firmly indicating they require 45 per cent of the national resources going to counties and vowed not to support BBI if that provision was not provided for.

“I am a happy man today after I saw the brief report pointing to between 35 per cent and 50 per cent ... we will be there to try and persuade you to move it from 35 per cent to at least 45 per cent,” said Kiraitu.

He welcomed recognition of wards as centres of development, saying  the move would open up villages. 

“Eighty per cent of resources even in devolved sectors are still with the national government for instance in agriculture only 20 per cent is with counties ...  and the situation is similar in the health sector,” said Kiraitu.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho urged Kenyans not to shy away from insisting on an inclusive government.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru  welcomed the proposals on gender representation.

“We have seen the issue of alternative gender addressed, for instance if a governor is male the deputy is female and vice versa, we would like to further ask that this is also replicated in all spheres of government,” said Waiguru.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko welcomed the proposal to appoint a deputy governor within 90 days in the event of a vacancy, failure to which the Speaker of the County would have powers to appoint one.

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