Cord leader Raila Odinga on Friday accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of entering into a Sh38 billion health equipment deal in a questionable manner.
Mr Odinga declared the equipment deal a scandal in which counties part with Sh95 million annually for the next seven years.
He was addressing the third annual devolution conference and claimed counties had been saddled with the leased equipment, including scissors, trolleys and tongs, that they did not require. The counties, he said, could have procured some of the machines cheaply instead of leasing.
“The scheme is definitely a scandal. An audit must be done. The contract needs to be made public,” Mr Odinga said.
The ODM party leader who spoke before Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa officially closed the conference at Meru National Polytechnic, on behalf of Deputy President William Ruto, said tax payers needed value for their money.
Governors who were reluctant to get the machines were “blackmailed through propaganda”, Mr Odinga claimed.
But Mr Wamalwa said the county chiefs signed the contracts to receive the equipment on their own volition.
The equipment, said the CS, had eased suffering of patients who previously travelled long distances to get services such as dialysis.
Only one county has not signed up for the equipment.
President Kenyatta launched the scheme in October last year, to save millions of poor Kenyans living in the countryside the burden of seeking specialised treatment in Nairobi.
Modern theatres, surgical, sterilisation and laboratory equipment, kidney dialysis machines, ICU facilities, digital X-ray machines, and ultrasound and imaging machines are part of the leasing deal.
Most governors had opposed the scheme as they questioned how the contract was awarded, but they later signed.
At the meeting in Meru, Mr Odinga told the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Philip Kinisu, who was present, to ensure that the Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge revealed the whereabouts of the Eurobond funds. He reiterated that although the money was borrowed it was never brought to the country.
“You owe it to the country and your own integrity to ensure the truth actually comes out because I have it,” Mr Odinga told the Mr Kinisu.
He urged governors to tackle corruption in their administrations.
County governments, he said, must put their fiscal houses in order. “They must rein in corruption and deal with the perception that they are the new centres of graft. According to the auditor-general, counties are losing billions of money through careless spending and disregard for procurement laws,” he said.
He said the Central Bank chief should tell Kenyans how the one billion dollars Eurobond cash was spent.
Mr Wamalwa said Mr Odinga had been invited to National Treasury to get information on the money but refused.
The Cord leader took a swipe at what he termed powerful enemies of devolution, that he said has transformed the country and improved service delivery.
“I am an unapologetic believer of devolution and I am not ashamed of it. I want to assure all of you that devolution is here to stay. Devolution is a baby we have to nurse and babysit to maturity despite its deformities,” said the Cord leader.
He added: “The enemies of devolution are still alive trying to stop devolution which is the right road to development. The national government should allow counties to deal collectively with the devolved functions.”
According to him, despite the unending roadblocks, counties had made tremendous and unimaginable impact.
“Even the national government cannot deny that health care services were in shambles when counties took them over. Everywhere there were very few hospitals and no drugs, no bedding and beds. Some counties were able to construct and equip up to 20 hospitals, dispensaries and health centres within the first year. Ambulance services are now taken for granted in parts of the country where none existed for the last fifty years. The number of doctors has increased from about 3,000 three years ago to over 4,500 today,” he said.
Mr Odinga warned against starving devolution of resources noting that this was what caused the death of Majimbo under the first Prime Minister.
“If you go to the national Parliament library you will find a debate in which the leader of opposition Ronald Ngala raised concern over underfunding of regions. We don’t want a repeat of the regrettable past,” he said.
Mr Odinga appealed to senators, members of county assemblies and governors to end the unhealthy competition between them and work together to secure devolution.
The former Prime Minister took issue with the Jubilee government increasingly borrowing cash, therefore, raising the national debt by up to 20 per cent in one year.
“In the 2015/2016 financial year, the national Treasury allocated Sh362 billion for debt repayment. This figure has risen to Sh433 billion in 2016/2017, an increase of Sh71 billion or 20 per cent in one year. At this rate, in five years, the country will be spending all the tax revenue on repaying public debts with nothing left for capital and recurrent expenditures. Sooner rather than later, debt service will take priority,” Mr Odinga remarked.
The result of increased borrowing would be less revenue share for counties and more trouble for devolution.
“Counties will suffer, yet they are not getting any shares of the borrowed money. Let’s join hands and raise the alarm now. We have been flirting with disaster and we now seem to be embracing it in the name of debts,” he said.
The Cord principal also accused the national government of renaming the provincial administration instead of restructuring it to fit into the devolved system.