By Ekakoro Emm
NO, THE 2010 CONSTITUTION IS NOT OUR PROBLEM. WE ARE
Are we over-represented? Most likely. I am however not going to go into the comparisons between Kenya and the US or Europe, for the simple reason that 1) I do not have the facts and 2) others have already done that effectively enough.
Is this over-representation responsible for our current unsustainable debt? Or put another way, if we collapsed the counties to less than twenty, would we save a significant amount of revenue? I’d have to give a conditional ‘yes’ or ‘maybe,’ but the correct answer may as well be, ‘hardly.’
Why do I sound sceptical? I shall proceed to answer this in a roundabout manner by way of example.
Let’s look at what some counties have achieved – and not achieved – and make deductions from those examples….
Makueni has universal health care and industries, Lodwar has changed from a rural township a decade ago to a thriving urban centre, others have built modern stadia from scratch and other infrastructure development (e.g. Kakamega), all courtesy of allocations from the central government. If the momentum is sustained for another decade, these are sleeping giants. Of course a few other counties are doing fairly well too.
On the flip side, my county of Busia doesn’t even have one kilometre of modern road to boast about. Yet it benefits equally from all allocations like other counties. And there are many others like Busia. Now we hear that Obado and his family and close associates have been swimming in billions siphoned from the county. There’s no prize for guessing whether Migori is on the least of counties who have shown positive changes resulting from devolution, or not. I’m surprised that the EACC have only fingered the Busia governor for a few millions. I’d guess if they dug deep enough, they’d uncover billions lost.
What do my examples above show? That while the new constitution may have created several levels of governance that are a drain on our meagre revenue, a few counties have demonstrated that we can overcome this negative aspect and make real progress out of it.
And what do we conclude? That while it is worthwhile exploring the possibility of reducing the number of representation units, there’s more to be gained by prudent choice of leadership which ultimately leads to ultimate use of resources. Simply put, we cannot blame devolution while the real problem is the people we have put to manage our affairs – lazy, ignorant, unpatriotic, megathieves whose only loyalty is to themselves. Kivutha Kibwana has shown that devolution is not all woe.
When a county achieves universal health care, or spurs industrial growth, the national government achieves its objectives. There’s is no county-level and national-level development. They both count towards the same targets. And so allocations to the counties are NOT a loss to the country as often insinuated. But only if well-spent. What stops everyone playing their oversight role? Why are we continually excusing mediocrity and theft?
Is it therefore right to blame devolution for the crippling burden of debt we now labor under? I think that’s the lazy man’s excuse for refusing to acknowledge that they’re responsible for allowing thieving idiots to manage their affairs.
Add to that the bad manners at the national level – where the County Lords learnt from anyway – and you’ll see that even if we had six counties and the same leadership we wouldn’t have any respite ever. Take this to the bank.