SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING INDUCTION PROGRAMME FOR COUNTY GOVERNORS AND DEPUTY GOVERNORS AT DIANI BEACH RESORT, KWALE COUNTY ON 14TH DECEMBER, 2017

On July 18, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Cabinet Secretaries,
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Good Morning,
 
It is a great pleasure for me to join you this morning at this important Induction Meeting.
 
Let me start by congratulating each one of you on your election. Indeed, I am proud of our voters for choosing three of our distinguished women as governors. This choice by our voters clearly demonstrates we in Kenya have come of age; and we value equality and are ready to choose a Lady as our next President.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
You won the confidence of the electorate; it is now your responsibility to deliver on their aspirations.
 
I know how tough it is, but I believe in you. I believe in the good judgment of the Kenyan voter. And so I wish you every success over the next five years.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I consider this meeting important and timely. Having walked the devolution journey for the last five years, this meeting should afford us the opportunity to reflect on what has worked well -- and what has not worked as we would have desired. And then come up with a common strategy to implement over the next five years to further deepen devolution.
 
Hon. Governors and Deputy Governors,
 
There is no doubt much has been achieved in the last four and a half years. We have much to be proud of; I have said it before and I will repeat it here: devolution is working.
 
We have turned every county into an important cog in the wheel of our collective aspirations as a nation; every county is now a full-fledged centre for economic development. This time, no one has been left behind on the road to prosperity.
 
Time and again, we hear the stories that confirm that conclusion. There have been many firsts across the nation. The first stretch of tarmac; the first fully-equipped early-childhood education center in some constituencies and only recently, Marsabit county enrolled 10,000 new members into NHIF -- the list just goes on.
 
However, while much has been achieved in furthering the devolution agenda, much more still remains to be done.
 
But we must celebrate the distance we have covered, and turn our attention to the road ahead of us.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Like some of you, this is my second and final term. That means one has to choose one's priorities carefully; priorities that will meaningfully impact on the lives of our people and for which you will be remembered.
 
Here are my development priorities that I announced during the celebrations of or independence on 12th December, 2017. These are:
 
To strengthen the unity of our people at all levels;
 
To improve the quality of life through the provision of universal health care;
 
To increase access to affordable housing;
 
To ensure food and nutritional security;
 
To enhance job creation and opportunities for our young population by focusing on the expansion of our manufacturing sector.
 
These priorities are ambitious, but Kenyans who elected us to represent them, expect no less. It is our responsibility to get to work on the agenda they chose. It ought to go without saying that Kenyans expect their two levels of government to work in partnership: they expect us to consult, to co-operate and to coordinate.
 
No Kenyan voted for disorder, disarray, or dispute in government. Regrettably, the last four years have not been free of those ills.
 
Consultations and dialogue took a back seat as institutions, in both levels of government, rushed to court to settle matters that could easily have been achieved through administrative processes.
 
At our Summit Meeting in Sagana last year, I directed the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning, to work with the relevant stakeholders, to develop alternative dispute resolution mechanism as envisaged in the Intergovernmental Relations Act. This way, the two levels of government would not need to go to courts, except as a very last resort. A draft dispute resolution mechanism is now ready for validation by stakeholders. I urge you all to make use of it when it is ready.
 
For my part, I promise to do everything in my power to satisfy myself that intergovernmental institutions and forums for dialogue, consultations, and agreement are operational and vibrant. In this regard, it is a pleasure to remember that the Judiciary has, in recent pronouncements returned a number of disputes for resolution through intergovernmental mechanisms, reaffirming the duty of both levels of governments to avoid litigation. We should adhere to the constitutional provision that alternative dispute resolution ought to be a first resort; and litigation a last one.
 
Honourable Governors,
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
As you will recall, our Second Medium Term Plan, 2013-2014 had, as its theme; “Transforming Kenya: a pathway to devolution, social economic development, equity and national unity.” What was true then, in that first five year period of devolution, is true now. What remains of us is to renew our vigour, our commitment and our focus. Devolution remains our flagship reform programme.
 
Let me, therefore, remind you that, as today’s leadership in our counties and national government, our people look up to us to liberate them from economic bondage. The journey to prosperity is long, but we must not grow weary, and we cannot leave anyone behind. You are our leaders. It is your responsibility to protect the weak, and enable the strong. Over the next five years, we must, and I repeat again, we must strengthen and deepen devolution in ways that make a real difference in the lives of our people.
 
Luckily, our Constitution and the various laws and policies that we have enacted, if faithfully and earnestly pursued, will undoubtedly help us achieve our shared development objectives. We are like the man in the parable who found a firm rock, and there built his house. The wind came, and the house stood strong. Devolution is our rock and our nation will emerge stronger as we deepen it.
 
We have all we need to make devolution work. Our intergovernmental structures are well beyond the learning curve; our fiscal framework for sharing revenues is working; we have the requisite human capacity; and, during the last election, we heard the desires and aspirations of our people. We have all we need to meet the aspirations of Kenyans for growth and shared prosperity.
 
Let me, therefore, share with you my own expectations of what we need to deliver for Kenyans, having traversed this country and listened to them.
 
At the county level in support of the priorities I outlined earlier, I would like to propose what I shall call “Devolution Deals”, for your consideration:
 
Establishment of Decentralization Units: Decentralization and resourcing of such units as contemplated in Part IV of the County Governments Act have the potential to mobilize and engage our youth more meaningfully. The presence of government structures can trigger economic activity that can transform our villages. At this level, our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector employs 14.9 million Kenyans.
 
Affordable credit, and provision of requisite infrastructure at the lowest levels of the decentralized units, would bring the fruits of devolution far faster to many more Kenyans; it would also help us meet our development goals inclusively.
 
Further Fiscal decentralization: We all recognize the need for identifying and investing in programmes that lead to more equitable access to public services everywhere.
 
Our resource sharing formula is crafted to address inequalities across the country. I am proud that my Administration has ensured that, over the past 4years, disbursements to counties have been far above the constitutional minimum threshold. The difference that equitable distribution of resources has made in the country is there for all of us tThe devolution deal here is this: Can county governments adopt elements of the resource allocation formula so that sub counties, wards and villages receive allocations from the center? The potential impact in the next five years, I believe, would be enormous.
 
Private Sector Involvement: The private sector, as we all know, is the engine for economic growth. Both at the national and county levels, we need to reach out and engage more with this sector with a view to getting them to investment more.
 
More importantly invest in the small and medium scale enterprises. Such investments will help in creating jobs and harnessing the creativity of our youthful population. To do this we need to create the right investment environment for initiatives like these to take place. I am happy that as a country, in three years, we have moved 56 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index from 136th to 80th. I challenge us to work a lot more to ensure our local businesses enjoy similar ease in doing their business so that we can intensify them to expand their operations.
 
Transformation of Public Service: None of this will be delivered if it is not accompanied by the right transformation of public service. I, therefore, ask you to join me in putting the public service on notice. Let us not allow faceless bureaucrats and functionaries to deny the public the quality of service they deserve. Let us, working together, strive to provide Kenyans with the highest quality of service in every sphere.
 
I expect to see greater partnership between county governments and the national government, in the expansion and integration of services through expanded and improved Huduma Centres. I also expect to see decisive action taken against public servants under your supervision who deliberately through their actions deprive Kenyans of quality services.
 
This way, I am confident we can make the strides we need to realize our national aspiration as articulated in the National Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
In concluding my remarks, I want to re-assure you that my Administration will, as we have done over the last four years, continue to support county governments to deliver on your mandates.
 
Over the next five years we expect to establish a robust framework for development that integrates citizen priorities with balanced budgeting, strengthened fiscal discipline, and accountability, at both the national and county levels.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Kenyans expect us to deliver on the promises we have made to improve their well-being. They expect us to ensure our young men and women get jobs; and that they have food on their tables.
 
They want quality healthcare to be accessible to all; and they want decent affordable shelter and nothing less.
 
We, therefore, must commit to make sure that every shilling of their money works for them. That responsibility is ours, the county government and the national government.
 
Finally, I wish you productive deliberations and all the best as you settle into your jobs.
 
It is now my pleasure to declare this “Induction Meeting”, officially open.
 
God bless you. God bless Kenya.

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