Devolution holds key to tackling challenges hampering progress

Wednesday February 14 2018

Devolution

Participants, including Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (centre), during a panel discussion on public participation in key development issues in counties at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi on February 13, 2018. Daunting challenges will be experienced in pursuit of food security and universal health coverage should the government fail to engage the counties. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By NDERI NDIANI
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The promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010 heralded the beginning of a major transformation of the State.

The creation of two, distinct and interdependent, levels of government, has significantly changed the manner in which policies and development programmes are designed and implemented.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has articulated his agenda for the next five years; which is not only embedded in the proposed Budget Policy Statement, 2018, but also seeks to cement his legacy.

BIG FOUR

He has promised to dedicate resources for the achievement of what he dubbed the Big Four: Food Security, Manufacturing, Universal Health Coverage and Affordable Housing.

It is critical that the two levels of government read from the same script and work in consultation and cooperation.

The Constitution and other laws governing devolution provide avenues to ensure success.

By virtue of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution, the health and agriculture functions are devolved, save for policy and the national health referral facilities.

ENGAGE COUNTIES

Daunting challenges will be experienced in pursuit of food security and universal health coverage should the government fail to engage the counties.

The President should use his position as the chairperson of the National and County Government Coordinating Summit to champion the national plan.

The Big Four plan comes at a time when most counties are developing their second generation County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs).

The County Governments Act provides that counties should facilitate a nexus between their plans and the national planning framework.

GOODWILL

Such linkage is not always guaranteed. Some political goodwill from the governors and a methodical approach to create synergy between the two levels of government are required.

Such cooperation will present enormous opportunities that will not only create an enabling environment for the attainment of the goals, but will also ensure that the target counties pool their resources, and focus their energies on a shared vision.

Public participation is vital and counties provide a critical expanded political space for engagement with the citizens.

SYNERGY AND PLANNING

Indeed, the comments by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who is the chairman of the Council of Governors, during the recent Intergovernmental Budget & Economic Council, illustrate the power of synergy in planning.

He said his county is already pursuing the food security agendum by growing green grams.

Sound intergovernmental relations will catalyse the mitigation of risks.

Notably, the devolved system of governance has been cast as one of the implicit liabilities impeding the achievement of the Big Four.

The risks range from the growing stock of counties’ pending bills to failure by to remit statutory deductions.

The role counties will play in the achievement of these goals cannot be gainsaid.

An intergovernmental approach to the implementation is a necessity.

GRANDSTANDING

The grandstanding witnessed in the last five years between the national government and COG should be eliminated.

There is immense hope going by the outcome of the recent meeting where COG and the national government agreed on revenue sharing without the characteristic impasse that was left to the National Assembly to unlock, having been presented with two irreconcilable figures. 

The two levels of government must deepen engagement in the various intergovernmental forums.

It is every Kenyan’s hope that the plan will live to its promise.

If it does, President Kenyatta’s legacy will not only be indelibly written in the history books, but will also find a permanent place in the hearts of the majority of Kenyans.

 

Mr Ndiani, the Clerk to the County Assembly of Nyandarua, is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. [email protected]