In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures.
Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, Mandera Governor Ali Roba responds to your questions:
1. Mandera County’s Health indicators were probably the worst in the country at the advent of Devolution, how have you improved healthcare in your county? John Mbugua Kiambu.
A: Before devolution, Mandera County suffered the worst world health indicators that did not only surpass the national averages but global indicators. For instance, we inherited the worst Maternal Mortality Rate indicators not only in this country but the entire world.
The MMR indicators stood at 3,795 deaths per 100,000 live births, as compared to the national average of 488 deaths per 100,000 live births.
In March 2013, we inherited 53 health facilities in the entire county out of which only three were operational at less than 10 percent capacity. At the same time we inherited from the national Government 154 health care workers many of them being unskilled.
To address these negative excesses, Mandera County government came up with deliberate investment strategy in line with millennium development goals, the national reproductive health policy and vision 2030, whose objective was to accelerate the reduction of maternal, new born, and childhood morbidity and mortality.
Beside overall investment agenda, Mandera County government has made maternal and neonatal child healthcare the top priority area in the health service delivery. In operationalising this priority therefore, we increased the number of health facilities that provide basic emergency obstetric care (BEMOC) from 18 to 70, all operating at 100 percent capacity.
Today, we have 833 skilled healthcare workers including 34 Medical Officers. We have also increased health facilities by constructing 63 new facilities. In the overall the healthcare service capacity has increased by more than 400 percent.
2. Teachers who are not locals in your county are living under threats of them being kidnapped by terrorists and killed. What are the elders who have substantial say on your county affairs doing to flash out those who are behind these barbaric attacks against innocent, unarmed civilians? Solomon Gatobu, Maua
A: Solomon, in the first two years of devolution we suffered 209 terror attacks, 10 of them had serious fatalities. 80 percent occurred in greater Mandera Town area.
Concerted efforts from all has led to zero attacks over the last two years in Mandera Town. Results have been realised through border securitisation and other strategic security inputs, engagement of leadership and the public.
It is unfortunate we cannot move Mandera from where it is and we will remain closely bordered with Somalia. What is encouraging is the drastic reduction frequency of attacks and severity over the last two years. I request all civil servants to be patient as we keep improving security.
3. Your administration had issued numerous unpaid LPOs and LSOs during your first tenure. What plans are in place to pay off such outstanding debts given the economic impact it has had on individuals and companies who delivered on the floated LPOs and LSOs? Aden Mohamed, Greenville, SC. US
A: Mandera County has carried out forensic audit of all liabilities and had to bite the bullet by deliberately budgeting to settle all pending bills. We have a budget for the LPOs and LSOs to settle debts owed to suppliers.
Already health and water-related LSOs have been fully settled last week and the rest will be settled soon. The delay has been occasioned by slow flow of funds from National Treasury, which has not released five months disbursements totalling to Sh4.2 billion. When Treasury releases the funds, we will settle the accounts.
4. It is now three and half years since piping system for water was undertaken in Bulla Garay, Kamor Location, Township Ward and still not a single drop of water comes through the above project. My concern is to know the plans you have for the perennial water problem that is experienced in Bulla Garay which is at the heart of Mandera Town. Alibashir Iman, Mombasa
A: Alibashir, your statement is incorrect. The project was contracted in 2016-17 and involved piping from the river, through Neboi ShafShafey, Tawakal, Bula Mpya and Bula Garay. Everything else has been connected except Bula Garay stretch which will be completed by June. We urge residents to be calm. Water will flow soon.
5. Terrorist attacks are not new to you since on several occasions you have survived by whisker. When the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), decided to grant transfers to teachers affected by the latest attacks, there were uproar from leaders from that region condemning the decision. However, the information emanating from those affected is that the local residents for some time have been guiding these attackers to where the non-locals reside. This movement of teachers have indeed marginalised the children of that region. What is your take on this situation and how can it be resolved in a sustainable manner? Komen Moris, Eldoret
A: Thank you Komen. I want to correct the perception that locals collude with terrorists and direct them to attack non-local residences. The opposite is true. During the bus attack locals used their bodies as human shields to protect non-locals. There are many incidences of similar nature that many non-locals can attest to where the locals hide the non-locals in remote villages whenever info is received. This gesture shows Mandera people care.
6. Now that the High Court has upheld your election. What are you doing to unite the people of Mandera County who since the 2017 elections have been divided by, among others, your disregard of the elders’ decree that you retire from politics? Abdifatah Noor Ali, Mandera
A: Abdifatah, Elections in Mandera should not be different from those in Busia, Siaya Kiambu or Kwale. There is nothing unique in our case. The level of enmity and hatred after a democratic election has been fuelled by retrogressive propaganda and fabricated lies by our opponents. God decides who becomes a leader. However, we don’t ask why it is happening but accept that It is our responsibility to reconcile our communities. We have started this by lobbying for appointment of my opponent Hassan Noor Hassan to a key position in the Jubilee administration hierarchy. I thank President Uhuru and Deputy William Ruto for considering Mandera. Our next course of action is to bring Economic Freedom Party and Jubilee to the reconciliation table. For the record I have no personal difference with anyone in EFP and there is no crime in participating in a democratic election. Inevitably we will reconcile.
7. Your previous administration was criticised for involving itself in corruption. What measures have you put in place to ensure cases like those won’t happen and define your second and final term as a governor? Abdifatah Noor Ali, Mandera
A: Corruption is evil and criminal. We are transparent and accountable. We do not condone graft. While we do not have anyone convicted of corruption in my staff or any formal complaint launched against a given individual on record, there has been rumours of these nature. To increase public confidence, we implemented a raft of safeguards whose impact is being felt in healthcare, lands, and administrative services. We cleaned up our payroll and rid the workforce of ghost workers and we are compiling files for forwarding to the EACC for action. We urge members of the public to report any corruption case to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
8. You bit the hand that fed you in going against the elders’ wishes. Do you think if things could have been done differently you would still emerge the victor? Abass Katte, Rhamu.
A. I would like to inform the general public that in modern day Kenya Mandera’s political playing field should not be any different from the rest of the country.
Kenyans have moved beyond clan politics to pure democracy based on the merits and the appeals of the leaders. That is why we have Somalis and Indians getting elected by other Kenyans in different counties like Nairobi, Kisimu, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia and Meru among others. That is the level of integration that our country is headed for.
When that is happening in the rest of the country, Mandera is disadvantaging itself by practicing politics of exclusivity of some of the clans and dictatorial politics. I felt obligated at that level of leadership to guide my people in the right path to democracy in line with where our country is headed.
We must understand the importance Mandera’s leadership profile in this country and jealously guard it. That profile can only be earned over time. Retrogressing by asking its brilliant leaders not to vie is, to say the least, evil. Leadership position is not food to be dished out through rotations. Changes should only occur by the will of Allah and the voters through voting.
9. What is your county administration doing about the alarming insecurity that has rendered the Elwak-Lafey-Mandera road one of the most dangerous because of ambushes by terrorists? Abdiqafar Khalif, Lafey Town
A: County government has lobbied for security in puts from national government even though security is not devolved. We carry the mandate of ensuring socio-economic wellbeing of our people as well feeling of security and we will continue our efforts of partnership with county and national security to improve the security of Mandera.
10. The residents of Lafey Constituency who are the victims of the wanton terror-related attacks have turned pessimistic on how you have seemingly segregated them. From the onset of devolution till today, Lafey Sub-County remains underdeveloped and is lagging behind from the other sub counties. What are your plans to improve the status of Lafey constituency in terms of health facilities and road networks? Abdiqafar Khalif, Lafey Town
A: Abdiqafar, quite the opposite of your statement is true. Everything that every sub-county has gotten, Lafey has gotten. It has the first sub-county headquarters. The road between Lafey and Mandera has been done in all its segments from Mandera, Arabia, Arabia-Fino, Fino-Lafey and Lafey to B-9 junction. The Lafey-Waranqara road has been done and Mandera to Salaa paved. Lafey is the most water-secure sub-county. We continue to develop all counties indiscriminately.
11. I would want to hear from the governor on what plans he has to create jobs especially for the youth of Mandera. Adan Hassan, Mandera
A: Good question Adan. Mandera County government has the most youthful employees in Kenya. During recruitment we gave special consideration to the youth aged below 40. We made many attempts to attract private investments but lack of an enabling environment such as roads, and sufficient electricity to support industrialisation and the challenge of insecurity hindered our efforts. We have invested in tertiary institutions and colleges to build capacities of youth and prepare them for job market. We have invested in technical college, ECDE college, medical training college and teachers’ training college which are all operational for the first time since independence. Some will be graduating their first candidates soon. We plan to have a veterinary college as a strategic investment also soon.
12. As residents of Mandera, what major capital projects should we look out for during this term following your re-election? Ugas Cade Hassan
A. Ugas, to enhance food security we look forward to putting at least 1,000 acres under irrigation in each sub county with full infrastructure to support it. We will tarmac all sub-county headquarters and build inter-ward roads to allow connectivity to take shape firmly.
Expect increased water security through heavy capital investment. We will improve health in all sub counties to fully-fledged level 4 hospitals and upgrade Mandera Referral facility to level 5 hospital.
By end of the term expect five fully operational colleges and a regional livestock disease control centre. Expect at least three industries to be up and running by 2022.
Inevitably we must absorb the initial cost of triggering industrialisation in our county. That is what governments have done to trigger industrialisation.
13. There has been water shortage in Mandera since independence. As the county manager what strategies do you have to end this problem once and for all? Phillip Ochieng Otieno, Kenyatta University
A: Water sector has witnessed tremendous investment. We drilled 70 successful boreholes, 69 new water pans, 96 underground water tanks, 85 rural water supply systems and one urban water supply system on going at Elwak.
Rural water supply system improved by 43 percent to 68.3 percent. Urban water supply system improved by 31 percent to 48 percent. We are soon commissioning a Water and sewerage programme worth Sh2.4 billion in Mandera Town. In partnership with IGAD and the riparian states we are negotiating for a mega dam upstream of River Daua very soon.
14. What is the governor doing about the contractor who has deliberately stopped the construction of the bridge that links the town population to the most essential amenities like hospitals, main markets and most of the government offices) in Mandera? Ali Issack Mohamed, Food security & Livelihoods program Coordinator, Mercy-USA, Nairobi/Somalia
A: The contractor has resumed operations. The progress is on course and I invite you to visit the site.
15. People of Mandera County are suffering a lot when applying for birth certificates for their children because there is only one office serving the entire county. What plans are there to open more offices to offer the vital services across Mandera County? Hussein Billow, Rhamu sub-County
A: Birth certificate issuance and registration of persons is not a devolved function. I will engage the respective arms of government to address this challenge.
16. Do you hold similar sentiments by devolution and security experts that if policing was a devolved function, counties that have been hard hit by terror incidents could have managed to arrest incidences of terrorism in time? Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi
A: Andrew, there is nothing I wish for than a secure Mandera and Kenya. At times we feel handicapped when you receive actionable intelligence on terror cell movements but nothing happens.
We can only forward information but we cannot act on it. It is frustrating when actionable intelligence volunteered comes to pass un-actioned and people are attacked.
It is very easy for people to share information with elected leaders and local administrators. You cannot be entrusted with huge resources of a county government and to be treated with suspicions on security front. Virtually all devolved systems globally have involvement in security. The President and Deputy President are elected leaders and they have roles in security.
17. The 2009 national census figures for Mandera raised eyebrows and to date, sections are asking how that was possible. As the country heads to another census in 2019, what should we expect from Mandera, taking into account the impacts terrorism has had on Mandera County? Githuku Mungai
A: Government should deploy all technology and personnel at its disposal to get accurate figures in 2019 census. I believe strongly that our census figures were accurate and the 2019 exercise will validate this.
18. During your first term, workers were employed after their names were forwarded by their respective sub-clan elders without merit consideration. Ghost workers were also a nightmare. What solution do you have for this in your final term in office?
Mohamednur Barre, Rhamu
A. The record at the County Public Service Board will clearly indicate the opposite to be true. Mandera undertakes professional credible impartial recruitment of workforce and tries its best to include all communities of interest within the merit equation. Our recruitment exercises are above board.
19. Sir, it is in public domain that there has been a political storm between the county executive the county assembly mainly pitting members of assembly members from the Economic Freedom Party and your Jubilee Party. What impact has these supremacy battles had on service delivery? How do you wish to tame this rivalry for the realisation of the dream legacy you have for the people of Mandera County? Issidin Noor Abdi, Wargadud
A: No impact on delivery of service. In fact, we have registered improved healthcare, water, sanitation and staff discipline. It is normal to experience teething problems with newly elected members of the County Assembly take office. A lot of capacity building and learning has happened over time that has lead more appreciation of roles and responsibilities and the importance of close working relationships for the greater good of Mandera which is always a win - win for all. I believe The assembly is more objective, better informed and more cohesive today that before. I will closely engage MCAs for the greater good of the population. I believe they are ready for the same.
20. It is sad how degree graduates in health-related courses have been battered by Mandera Public Service Board. Some of us have had to stoop to low paying jobs just to make ends meet because county prefers to recruit diploma holders. What measures will you put in place to ensure that degree graduates get their fair share when it comes to recruitment? Abdi Mohamed Edin, Elwak, Mandera South Constituency
A. This is news to me. If you have any adverse information on the same see the County Secretary immediately. Mandera County government is an equal opportunity employer.
21. Mandera being a tri-border town, which socio-economical plans do you have to minimise the issue of food insecurity and youth empowerment thus making the town an economic hub of the region? Ibrahim Adan, Nyahururu
A. We have revived all the irrigation schemes along River Daua over the last five years and reclaimed the farmland that was taken over by Mathenge plants (Ali Garoob) and today about 4600Ha have been put under irrigation along the river with surplus production of onions, water melons and other fruits.
We are trading with Ethiopia and Nairobi already.
While it might not be sufficient fir food security but it definitely puts us directly trajectory to food security. We plan to put thousands of acres under irrigation in each sub-county. Mandera is the largest town in a radius of 400km with a market population of over 2.5 million people across the three countries. We intend to strategically invest to make use of the huge market population.
22. The pace of improving the Mandera livestock market leaves a lot to be desired. The work has not started yet the contractor who apparently enjoys patronage from top officials of the county executive has been paid almost in full. Could the governor enlighten us more on what is being done to speed up the work for a modern livestock market? Ibrahim Adan
A. The contract has not been fully paid. The payment is commensurate to the work done which normally is the nature of government contracts. However, it is true that the project has suffered delays in its deliver which has necessitated its cancellation.
I confirm that the contract has been cancelled to be re-tendered very soon. We plan to have the project fully finished by the end of the next financial year.
For more questions and answers go to www.nation.co.ke