Governors are divided over a plan to hold a publicity event that will cost the 47 county governments a total of Sh103 million.
The event dubbed the Devolution Torch will see an Olympic-style torch hosted in each of the 47 counties for one week before being handed over to the neighbouring county.
Each county government will be required to donate Sh2.2 million towards hosting the event, says the Council of Governors (CoG) secretariat which is spearheading the event.
During that week, the torch will be taken to various sub-counties for events to showcase the county government’s success stories, according to the Concept paper sent to the 47 governors to lobby support for the event.
The event was initially scheduled to be launched mid last month but has been repeatedly postponed due to stiff opposition from a section of governors.
Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka however down-played the disagreements, saying that even though most county governments are not opposed to the event, they were too constrained financially to host it.
“We are aware of the event, it was discussed during the CoG meeting. It is not that county governments are entirely opposed to it,” he said.
Sunday Nation, however, learnt that at least 10 governors have shown willingness to host the event.
A meeting convened by the CoG Secretariat last Monday ended in disagreements after a section of the county Directors of Information openly opposed plans to host the event.
“We realised that many of us did not understand what the event is all about and the benefits county governments stand to gain so we resolved to consult further,” said a county director of information from Nyanza who attended the event but did not want to be quoted on a matter that is increasingly becoming divisive.
CHALLENGES OF DEVOLUTION
The initial letter from the Council of Governors (CoG) Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mogeni to all governors dated June 10 reads: “The Council of Governors secretariat plans to launch the Devolution Torch on the 17th of June 2016. The purpose of the Devolution Torch is to collect and receive feedback from county residents on the successes and challenges of devolution at the counties.”
“The Devolution Torch plans to ape the relay method of delivery. You as Excellency Governors will pass the Devolution Torch to the next Excellency Governors at the county borders,” it goes on.
“Only those counties that will have paid their contributions will receive the torch. Ideally, the Devolution Torch should pass through each county,” it concludes.
The letter states that the Devolution Torch will start in Meru, home of CoG chairman Peter Munya before moving to Turkana County. It will be streamed live and viewed on all the local television stations, Ms Mogeni says.
“The torch will be housed for a week within each county, being taken round the county governments, interacting with county government officials and residents,” states the Concept Paper titled “Celebrating four years of Devolution in Kenya.”
“The Devolution Torch will be carried on a caravan that will consist of a fully-fledged media team. There will be a dedicated website which will be updated where Kenyans can follow the Devolution Torch on a livestream channel,” the paper states.
The latest letter from Ms Mogeni, dated June 29th, indicated that the event will now commence in early August but did not explain why it had been postponed from the initial April date.
A county communications director who boycotted the Monday meeting said majority of governors were opposed to the event.
“We already have outstanding bills to pay. Many governors do not support the idea of donating Sh2.2 million to host a PR exercise when people need basic services,” he stated.