Wambora’s big plan for counties
The newly crowned Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Martin Wambora, has promised to rally his colleagues to eradicate corruption in the 47 county governments, which he says has hindered Kenya’s long-term economic growth.
Wambora has also pledged to mobilise for “extra and adequate” resources from the national government to the devolved units.
In an interview with People Daily on Friday, Wambora said corruption still remains the greatest impediment to the realisation of the objects and purpose of devolution.
“To address the menace, I commit to ensure that the CoG will collaborate with other relevant agencies, to address the vice and ensure that resources meant for service delivery across the counties do not bleed through this vice,” he said.
Wambora who previously chaired the caucus’ Committee on Trade was elected as the fifth CoG chairman, taking over from Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who served the maximum two terms.
He will serve alongside CoG vice-chair James Ongwae (Kisii) who until his election served as the council’s committee chair for Labour and Human Resources, as well as Elgeyo/Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos who is the new whip.
With this change of guard at CoG, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM’s Raila Odinga, have cemented their firm hold on the governors following the election of a pro-Handshake team.
Wambora, Ongwae and Tolgos are ardent supporters of Uhuru and Raila and are among the proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The Embu county boss has also promised to rally his colleagues behind the Handshake and the proposed changes through BBI.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the BBI process which is a culmination of views from the public on the desired Constitutional amendments, with the possibility of a referendum later in the year,” he said.
“This should however not deter us from achieving our objectives as a council.
As the new Chair, I urge all governors to remain non-partisan and focus on delivering services to wananchi,” he added.
Wambora said he is alive to the challenges facing counties, key among them being inadequate and untimely disbursement of funds.
According to the Embu governor, many Kenyans pinned their hopes on devolution to realise the dreams that for decades were frustrated by skewed appropriation of resources.
Owing to this expectation, Wambora said devolution would provide a remedy for the economic injustice that the county governments are under pressure to deliver on.
“Jointly with the Executive, we shall ensure timely disbursement of funds to ensure service delivery to mwananchi,” he said.
Said he: “We are all witnesses to the fact that effective implementation of devolution, requires a comprehensive and well-coordinated system, based on consultations and cooperation among the various arms and departments of government.”
“As the new chairman, I commit to work with all the stakeholders for the success of devolution in the spirit of dialogue and negotiations,” he added.
Among his first tasks will be facilitating the implementation of the recently launched County Covid-19 Social Economic Re-engineering Strategy by all 47 county governments.
This, in addition to spearheading negotiations to ensure adequate resourcing to devolved units to at least 35 per cent of the nationally raised revenue.
He will seek to provide leadership towards strengthening collaborations, cooperation and coordination between the national government, county governments, development partners, private sector and other key stakeholders.
“To this end, I will purpose to build on the current good relations while remaining firmly committed to the course,” he said.
He also promised to lobby for adequate resources to the CoG, by ensuring that all the 47 counties remit the agreed subscriptions in support of the council’s activities.
“We cannot underscore the critical role played by the Secretariat; I wish to state that it is perfectly in order for county governments to budget for funds for intergovernmental contributions,”
“It is not illegal for a county government to include in its budget an expenditure item, that will assist the council to promote its inter-governmental relations agenda,” he advised.
Together with other governors and County Pension Fund, he said he would ensure actualisation of the recently launched G-47 Ugatuzi Towers for the benefit of the devolution family.