OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE GOVERNORS SUMMIT AT SAGANA STATE LODGE ON 11TH FEBRUARY, 2016
February 11, 2016 In Statements and Speeches
Kenya’s struggle for freedom and prosperity is older than our independent nation. And it has been a struggle: poverty and politics, as much as disease and division, have slowed the pace of our progress.
Our historical responses to these challenges have proved inadequate. With Government over-centralised, levels of development differed sharply from region to region, and there was poor provision of even the most basic of public services. Grievance and conflict followed. The system we inherited was unsustainable.
Undaunted, Kenyans returned to the drawing board and fashioned a new constitution for themselves. That document became the blueprint under whose direction we reconstructed the state.
Few nations in the Africa, and indeed the world have ever attempted such a radical change; fewer still have managed it peacefully. Yet, with minimal fuss, trouble or acrimony, Kenyans rewrote our entire supreme law, and redefined the relationship between themselves and their government.
That feat set us apart in the world, and should always be a source of national pride.
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the heart of that new order is devolution: the shift to a devolved system of Government, given life through the establishment of 47 counties. Devolution was designed to meet Kenya’s deepest political needs for effective representation at the local level and fairness in the distribution of national resources.
Indeed, the equitable distribution of resources is central to our achieving sustainable peace, unity and cohesion as a nation. Devolution will not impede unity and cohesion, it will enable it. Yet that unity and cohesion must first exist between us, as leaders. Devolution demands interdependence, consultation and cooperation between the two tiers of Government. Our fates, like the fates of all Kenyans, are tied. The national government and the county Governments are not in competition. The constitution envisioned that leaders in Government would govern in the spirit of give and take.
We have a responsibility to meet and uphold the high standard which the constitution has set for us.
We must continually come together in goodwill and compromise, so that we can govern effectively. We must rise from the petty quarrels of the day to pursue the great prize which awaits our efforts: a Kenya prosperous and free, in which all of us have an equal say. That is how we will succeed. Indeed, that is how we have succeeded over the last three years.
Many predicted, loudly, that devolution was a temporary, shambolic experiment,doomed to quickly fail. Three years later,we have laid the foundation of a system of Government that will outlive all of us. The naysayers have recanted and the prophets of doom have been discredited. They were wrong. You proved them wrong.
All 47 counties have handled the transition period exceptionally well.
Yes, there have been teething troubles. But on the whole you, and your respective legislatures, have all done a fantastic job. It has been a joy to partner with you to fulfill the promise of our independence struggle.
Today, the successes of devolution speak for themselves. Three years on, the enhanced Revenue Allocation to the Counties, which My Government has always ensured is well above the minimum set by the Constitution, has spurred tangible development in all the Counties.
There is now markedly improved access to basic services and citizens can access these services irrespective of their political affiliation.
Under devolution, Mandera County andMbeere Sub-county have had their first caesarian births since Independence. InSamburu, maternal deaths have reduced by 79%. Wajir County has had its first tarmac roads under devolution; and so on and so forth. Every county in Kenya is a vibrant testimony to the success of our two-tier governance model.
County Governments have proven that the national government does not enjoy a monopoly in formulation of policies and strategies that benefit Kenyans at the local level. Indeed, the national government has even learnt from some of the Counties; and at national level we have applied methods and solutions that have been innovated by particular Counties.
Together, we have shown that County Governments and the National Government can move beyond politics, to engage in productive partnership.
The medical equipment scheme, which nearly every county here is a part of, has been a partnership through which Kenyans have experienced enhanced medical service delivery. As a result of the initiative, more counties are equipped with medical equipment for diagnostics and more Kenyans can undertake potentially life-saving screenings for cancer and other diseases. Together, we have also ensured that Huduma Centres have been multiplied across the counties.
Today, some 40 counties boast a Huduma centre and thanks to our partnership,millions of Kenyans can access some of the basic services that are their right.
We are also lighting our schools, wherever they are, so that young people have more time to study and prepare for their future. Iam delighted that a few hundred students from this area, Dedan Kimathi andKaratina Universities, Kamwenja Teachers College, and the Nyeri Medical Training College, have come in to listen to my address. You represent the class that must reap the benefits of our investments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Of course, devolution has not been without its challenges. Counties inherited national and local government staff who were in some cases inadequately trained and in other cases, more than the number required. This created a heavy and burdensome wage bill that has reduced the funds available for development expenditure.
It is also saddening to note that some Counties are not adhering to the principles of diversity and national cohesion
There have also been repeated accusations of waste and inappropriate budgeting and spending.
Members of the County Assemblies in particular have been accused of excessive spending; while reports of abuse of power,privilege and county resources by Members of the county executives have been a feature of our national discourse.
As we build on the successes of devolution,it is incumbent on us to work together to ensure these regrettable occurrences do not put a blot on our accomplishments. We must eradicate them from our political practices.
The National Government is providing the counties with all the necessary budgetary support, technical and human resources,policies and legislative instruments in order to address the challenges that the county governments are facing. We will continue to support them, and we ask for continued cooperation.
I urge the counties not to see the national government’s open hand of assistance as an attempt to belittle or micromanage the devolved units. We are all stakeholders by right in this grand nation called Kenya.
We are bound together by common goals and aspirations; and, most importantly, by our solemn commitment to improving the lives and fortunes of all Kenyans.
The prospects for devolution are bright, but only if we all work together, and play our respective parts. Citizens should pay their taxes, rates and levies, but they should also engage with their County and national government and hold both accountable.
I urge every County Government to stay true to the vision for devolution set out under our Constitution.
I urge every member of the three branches of the national government to remember and uphold our National principles and values in all that they do.
We have come a long way in a short time. We have achieved much more than many thought we could. We have done well. The work, however, is not done. It is just beginning.
As we celebrate the past, let us renew our resolve to forge a brighter future.
Let the success of yesterday inspire us in the work we must do here and in the counties tomorrow and in the weeks and months to come.
In conclusion, we have just ended a two-day summit of the National and County Government Coordinating Summit, which has adopted resolutions that celebrate and entrench devolution. We have agreed bold steps to strengthen service delivery and deliver value to the Kenyan people.
To build on the successes of devolution,the summit agreed that overall funding in absolute terms to County Governments be increased year to year.
The Summit also agreed on the adoption of a policy of austerity aimed at releasing more resources from recurrent expenditure to development. In this context, the National and County Governments committed to achieve a 60 percentreduction in travel and allowance expenditure across all government organs.
In addition, the Summit agreed to commission an analysis of the functions of both levels of Government, to eliminate duplication and wastage.
Towards this end, these resolutions are aimed at ensuring devolution delivers the intended constitutional benefits to the citizens of this great nation.
Thank You. May God bless you. May God bless the Republic of Kenya.
Narok County leading online newspaper.
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