Uhuru, governors in talks on county chiefs

Tuesday May 20 2014

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the public at Chuka University during the 100th year celebrations of Chuka town on December 6, 2013. President Kenyatta on January 31, 2014 appealed to parties to the South Sudan crisis to comply with the peace agreements they signed. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

President Uhuru Kenyatta. He on Tuesday held talks with governors and promised to ensure that the County Commissioners, whose powers were enhanced last week, will not undermine devolution. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ISAAC ONGIRI
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By JOHN NJAGI
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President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday held talks with governors and promised to ensure that the County Commissioners, whose powers were enhanced last week, will not undermine devolution.

The President was confronted with several questions following his move to give more powers and responsibilities to the County Commissioners.
Governors led by their council chairman, Mr Isaac Ruto, had sought an explanation from Mr Kenyatta on the appointments.

“Some of us have had ideological issues in regard to the existence of the office of County Commissioners and we took our questions to the President regarding this matter,” Mr Ruto told the Nation after the meeting.

He said the Council of Governors accepted the President’s explanations regarding the commissioners after they were told that their role would have nothing to do with devolution.
“The President explained very well that the role of the County Commissioners will strictly be the co-ordination of national government issues. As long as they stick to that we seem to have no issues with them,” Mr Ruto said.

A governor who attended the meeting but asked not to be named said his colleagues made a push for more recognition as elected leaders following recent changes in county administration.
“At the meeting it was agreed that Governors are elected leaders just as the President is an elected leader and that there should be mutual recognition of that,” he said.

The opposition and the civil society has criticised Mr Kenyatta’s new move to enhance the powers of the commissioners which was seen as an attempt to undermine governors.

However, Mr Kenyatta said that just as governors had appointed officials to assist them in running counties, he too had picked the commissioners to co-ordinate the activities of the national government in the counties.

In yesterday’s talks, governors also agreed to work with the national government to combat terrorism and restore security to the country.

“In this issue of security we are working together, if we share information and move together then we are able to make our country safe,” said the chairman of the security committee of the Council of Governors who is also the Tana River Governor Hussein Dhadho.

The meeting at State House Nairobi was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, several cabinet secretaries, and members of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution led by their chairman, Mr Charles Nyachae.

Governors present also called for the full control of roads funds still held by the National Treasury to address some of the challenges involving the initiation of road projects under county governments.

The governors wanted roads under class C to be put under the management of county governments.
They also wanted the agreements on management of roads to be captured in the proposed Kenya Roads Bill 2013 to avoid future intergovernmental conflict.

“We have also talked about roads and we are almost striking a deal on this matter,” said Mr Ruto.
At the meeting, the issue of amending 25 laws said to be undermining devolution was also discussed.

The governors also demanded that the National Treasury immediately release billions of shillings meant for salaries of workers in the devolved functions.

The council told the President that the retention of the salaries was irregular.

The meeting also discussed economic issues affecting the people both at the county and national level and how to deal with them.