Is Kenya a unitary state?
President Mwai Kibaki yesterday raffled feathers after he told 47 county governors that Kenya is still a unitary state during an induction seminars in Naivasha.
Kibaki told the new county officers to ‘work in line with the constitution’ for the common good of the people.
The president told the Governors that the objectives of devolution of government as laid out in our constitution are to foster national unity by recognizing our diversity and not to create parallel governments.
He told those who though otherwise to read the constitution and understand what is written in it.
“You have a limited time to serve the people and you should not let the trappings of power overwhelm you,” Kibaki said.
Before the president’s speech sunk in the chairman of Constitution Implementation Commission Charles Nyachae told off Kibaki saying Kenya now has a devolved system of government with a central government headed by the president and County government headed by a Governor.
And in a move to show their opposition to the move that analyst see as taking Kenya back to the 1960s where Jomo Kenyatta’s government did away with Majimbo, the Governors and their deputies walked out of the meeting,hours after Kibaki left, to protest what they claimed was an attempt to reduce their stature and powers as chief executives of their counties.
Bomet governor Isaac Rutto in an interview with Citizen TV said Kenya now has 48 separate governments and the sovereignty of each county government should be respected. Rutto must have got it wrong because Kenya has 47 counties and a Central Government that is meant to oversee the running of the government.
Cord leader Raila Odinga has in the past insisted that the central government wanted to derail the implementation of the constitution and usurp on the powers of the County Governments.
Governors have faced many problems in their Counties with some fighting for office space with the Provincial administration which some have argued that was done away with on the onset of county governments.
Kibaki had in the morning warned the governors against engaging in ‘petty politics’ and urged them to ensure swift and efficient delivery of services to the public. The petty politics Kibaki referred to was the demand by Governors to fly flags like cabinet ministers.
The walkout came after it emerged that some officers sent to the county offices to facilitate devolution on an interim basis would wield more powers than the governors.
The governors and their deputies said that they were not ready to play second fiddle to any one. Already some governors from counties that expect overnight wealth in oil like Turkana has maintained that resources should be shared equally between the county government and Central government.
Turkana governor Josephat Nanok yesterday said parliament should legislate laws that will allow equal sharing of resources. Nanok was in the forefront of fighting for equal sharing of oil wealth when Tullow announced mid-last year it had got oil in Turkana.
This looks like the new battle ground for the new government of President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. The two will be sworn in on April 9th.