President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged County governments to accommodate legitimate viewpoints to maintain the robust democracy in the country.
He said differences at the county level should not be allowed to interfere with freedom, democracy and diversity or destroy Kenyans’ common aspirations.
“Disputes have undermined the public confidence in the capacity of county governments to meet their expectations. This is dangerous for devolution,” the President said.
He spoke today when he opened the 2nd Annual Conference on Devolution at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu. The conference was attended by Governors from across the country, Senators, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and chairpersons of Constitutional Commissions.
The President said the inevitable functional overlaps should not generate to an arena for conflict, but opportunities to maximize synergies.
“Negotiation and cooperation, when sustained and applied consistently, will open our eyes to the great promise of devolution,” the President said.
President Kenyatta described the ongoing entrenchment of devolution as the eternal monument of the national consensus to unite and share both the rights and obligations of citizenship and service to Kenya.
He said: “It is our testimony to our pact to do our part in bringing the people together to build Kenya, and to share the fruits of a prosperous Kenya.”
The President said Kenyans have tasted the fruits of devolution and look forward to national and county leaderships that work harder and closer to realise the desired effects.
On the war against graft, President Kenyatta called on all Kenyans to pool resources in fighting the vice that denies country quality services.
He said resources available to develop the country have been generated through toil and sacrifice and should only be utilized prudently and for the intended legal purposes.
The President asked Governors to utilize all opportunities at their disposal to entrench professionalism, diligence and integrity in county governments.
“I am busy fighting corruption in the national government. I do not wish any governor to ever have that problem on their hands. Devolution is two years old now. Let’s make the people of Kenya proud by rejecting corruption and embracing integrity,” the President said.
He stressed the need for county and national leaderships to agree on how each of them can do their part to make devolution a resounding success.
“The conference was a further testimony of the commitment to Article 6 (2) of the Constitution, which enjoins the national and county governments to conduct their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and cooperation,” the President said.
He said devolution will only succeed if implementers take up the challenge of dedicating their efforts to fulfill the vision and philosophy which inspired the innovation.
“Devolution is meant to strengthen our sovereignty by giving people greater access to their sovereign power.
This is aimed at expanding the scope of our self-determination in the character and direction of our development,” he pointed out.
Devolution, the President said, is also aimed at strengthening national unity by building stronger sub-national units that underscore diversity as legitimate tools for stronger cohesion.
President Kenyatta said the national Government has undertaken a great deal of initiatives to implement its mandate as regards devolution and has provided support and facilitation necessary for a quick and smooth transition by boosting capacity for devolved units to successfully take off.
“Over the past two years, my Government has accelerated the expansion of resource allocation to county governments. In 2013/2014, when my Government assumed office, 32% of national revenue was allocated to county governments. In 2014/2015, we allocated 43%. This will cause profound economic transformation of our rural areas,” he said.
During the occasion, the President launched the Lake Region economic blueprint that will guide the region’s cooperation in development.
Council of Governors Chairperson Isaak Ruto pledged the county governments’ support in the fight against corruption.
Mr Ruto, who is the Governor of Bomet, said all Kenyans are obliged to obey the rule of law even as devolution was under various stages of implementation.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru said the success of devolution is a collective responsibility of all Kenyans and leaderships in both national and county governments.
Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro called on counties to combine efforts with the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s initiative “Beyond Zero” campaign to address mortality rates among mothers and children.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga pledged his support to the Government’s initiatives to address security challenges facing the country
Mr Odinga said devolution had put the country on the right track and will benefit all Kenyans.
Other speakers included US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godek and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who presented the devolution status report for the last two years.