Distinguished Ambassadors and High Commissioner,
I am happy to join you today in the great city of Kisumu during this very important event to celebrate devolution in our country. Devolution lies at the heart of national transformation. Devolution is the single greatest economic and sociopolitical innovation of our constitution.
It is the core around which every component of our dispensation’s paradigm shift is arranged. Devolution is at the heart of our national rebirth and because of its significance; my Government is totally committed to its success.
I thank the county Government of Kisumu for putting together such excellent arrangements to host this year’s edition of the Devolution Conference.
Devolution ranks at the very top of my government’s priority list. That is why this Conference is important. I am keen to actively participate personally in every initiative that moves the Devolution agenda forward.
As a Nation, we have tasted the fruits of Devolution. We have seen its promise. Although we are in the early years of entrenching the system, we are all aware of its prospects. Kenyans therefore look forward to national and county leadership working harder to mature this promise.
Expectations are high, and rightly so. There is no turning back. We are gathered here on the understanding that at both levels of government, we are in this together. We therefore need to form a consensus on how best each of us can do our part to make devolution a resounding success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This conference is a further testimony of our 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. It is only when we take up the challenge of dedicating our efforts to fulfill the vision and philosophy which inspired this innovation of devolution that we will succeed.
We must never lose sight of 3 principal goals of devolution:
• First, 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.
• Second, Devolution is aimed at strengthening national unity by building stronger sub-national units that underscore our diversity. In other words, the new approach to unshakeable national unity is through recognition that our diversity is legitimate and holds the potential for even stronger unity and cohesion.
• Third, Devolution is aimed at greater, more equitable and efficient sharing of national resources. The County Integrated Development Plans are an excellent starting point to make this noble goal a reality.
By setting as a minimum on allocation of 30% of county budgets towards development programmes, we have laid ground for devolution to realize visible impact in our communities.
My Government has undertaken a great deal of initiatives to implement its mandate as regards Devolution. It has also provided the support and facilitation necessary for a quick and smooth transition, and the creation of capacity within 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the moment, my Government is implementing the National Capacity Building Framework and a Civic Education Framework. These are excellent opportunities for both levels of government to empower government and the people so that each can play their part in entrenching Devolution. The public need to understand the scope of the promise of Devolution. The people need to effectively participate in the important processes of planning and financial management.
In addition, my government is implementing Capacity assessment and Rationalization programme to evaluate skills and competencies in county governments, and direct the institutional review modes that will match skills and mandates. The biometric data capture exercise was one component of this programme. We want government at all levels to be lean, efficient, transparent, citizen-centred and competent.
The entrenchment of Devolution is ongoing. It is the eternal monument of our national consensus to unite and share both the rights and obligations of citizenship and service to Kenya. 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.
This process has, however, been replete with misunderstandings. Some of them have escalated into fully-blown conflict which has paralyzed county governments and disrupted devolved services. Indeed, it was with great sadness that I appointed the Commission to inquire into the affairs of Makueni county government.
We operate in a robust democracy that must be maintained at all times. All legitimate viewpoints must be accommodated in all their diversity. However, we must not let this freedom and democracy and diversity divide or destroy our common aspirations. We must dedicate ourselves to accommodate difference and resolve misunderstandings in a peaceful way.
I therefore commend the convenors of this Conference for deliberately including a session on Alternative Dispute Resolution. I hope that this discussion will open our eyes to the possibility of various ways and means through which acrimony and disruptive hostility can be avoided without sacrificing legitimate interests.
Disputes have undermined the public confidence in the capacity of county governments to meet their expectations. This is dangerous for devolution. Functional overlaps are occasionally inevitable that they should not be 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While devolution holds the key to a prosperous and equitable Kenya, this promise is being undermined by bad financial governance: simply put corruption. We as a people must, without exception, be prepared to eliminate this evil practice. I am pleased to note that the people of Kenya demonstrated their support categorically rejecting corruption at all levels of government and in all sectors of our national life.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The resources available to develop this country have been generated through toil and sacrifice. They must be utilized prudently and for the intended legal purposes. 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 2 years old now. You have an opportunity to start clean and entrench traditions of professionalism, diligence and integrity in county governments. Do not waste this opportunity. Let’s make the people of Kenya proud by rejecting corruption and embracing integrity.
Finally, I want to reassure everyone that my commitment and that of my Government, to the success of devolution is absolute. We will not waver, hesitate or flinch when it comes to delivering it to our people.
Our various interactive fora, including Inter-Government frameworks and our regular summits, testify to this. Let us work together, and continue working hard to perfect the promise of Devolution.
Let history assign us the legacy of those who did their best and succeeded in laying a perfect foundation for continued prosperity, unity and self-determination for our people. This is a commitment we must never surrender.
Thank you and May God bless you all.