President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday put governors on the spot, questioning their failure to spur development.
In his State of the Nation address delivered in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Kenyatta accused governors of using Sh1 trillion allocated to county governments since 2013 to “build palaces” and buy luxury vehicles for themselves and other officials.
This, he said, came at the expense of services like provision of clean water, agriculture extension and equipping hospitals.
“A significant proportion of the funds transferred to devolved units have not met the expectations of Kenyans. You must ask: Is the Sh1 trillion sent to county governments reflected in what you see? Is there clean drinking water and proper sanitation, efficient garbage-collection, medicines in hospitals and are agricultural extension workers visiting your farms?” he asked.
He added that instead of using the funds to eliminate challenges facing Kenyans, a majority of governors were spending the money to satisfy their greed and wasting it on projects “which do not serve the public”.
“We see conspicuous consumption, self-aggrandisement and wastefulness. In some cases, we have seen fleets of vehicles and palaces being acquired to benefit administrators and officials,” the President said.
“We have not seen enough of these hard-earned resources being utilised to provide concrete benefits to the people.”
Mr Kenyatta asked Kenyans to join him in demanding accountability from governors.
“Kenyans must remember that these funds come from their taxes. It is critical that every Kenyan demands accountability from those who manage these resources,” he said to the cheers of MPs and senators.
The demand by the Head of State is likely to elicit a strong response from the Council of Governors, which is chaired Meru County boss Peter Munya.
Mr Munya has lashed out at the National Treasury for failing to release money on time to counties.
Governors say that the government has not supported devolution through late disbursement of funds and refusal to let go critical devolved functions.
President Kenyatta said his administration was committed to devolution and had demonstrated that by allocating more than the 15 per cent of annual total revenue to counties.
“My government’s commitment to devolution means that every year of this administration, we have transferred at least double the constitutional minimum of 15 per cent of shareable revenue to counties,” he said.
He added that devolution was the only system that would eliminate development inequalities. Of the Sh1 trillion transferred to counties, Sh168 billion was channelled to arid and semi-arid areas.
He said the money was made up of Sh6 billion yearly equalisation fund, Sh87 billion as Constituency Development Fund and Sh13.4 billion to the youth, women and the disabled.