Misuse of resources curse to development, service delivery
Devolution is touted as one of the most critical outcomes of the 2010 Constitution. It was meant to ensure dedication of funds to the grassroots for development and service delivery.
Its proponents saw it as a cure for the old system in which resource allocation was seen as the benevolence of the national Executive.
Indeed as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report reveals, the sharing of resources was among major causes of violent elections that divide the country every five years.
Lots of Kenyans hold the view that winning the presidency results in more allocation of resources to the winner’s region.
The general consensus is that devolution has been largely successful despite challenges. There has been significant progress in delivery of health services, agriculture and expansion of rural roads.
This is despite the perpetual cries by county governments over delay in release of funds by the National Treasury.
And as one governor pointed out last week, 80 per cent of the cash meant for devolved functions is still retained by the national government.
But even as governors demand more funds, there are serious concerns about accountability in its use in the sub-nationals.
County officials stand accused of shameless enrichment through corruption and misuse of allocated funds. This defeats the spirit of devolution, as the cash does not reach the people it is supposed to benefit.
Notably, Kenyans who submitted views to the BBI task force not only advocated for more resources for counties but demanded accountability.
The country has been treated to bizarre spending habits by county governments, including huge allocations to foreign trips by ward representatives, needless seminars, purchase of fuel guzzlers and office furniture for county leaders.
While the role of counties oversight was entrusted to Senate and County Assemblies, the former has been actively executing its mandate, but the latter have failed dismally.
Not only are they major culprits of corruption and ugly wrangles, they have also failed to call governors to account.
County leaders should be reminded that devolved funds were meant to transform people’s lives and not for the enrichment a few individuals through corruption.