|Ali Roba, Mandera Governor.|
Residents and the civil society in Mandera County are protesting against a planned tour by Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) from next week. The MCAs are set to tour Israel, a trip that is estimated to cost the taxpayers some Sh30 million. The residents argue that the tour is uncalled for at this time when they are faced with many challenges. They said the money should have been used for development matters, among them the improvement of infrastructure that has led to pastoralist and farmers incurring losses as they cannot access markets due to bad roads.
Each of the twenty two members of the Assembly led by Majority Leader Robow, the Bulla Mpya MCA, will receive two hundred thousand shillings as an allowance for the trip, exclusive of the Sh30 million. One wonders why Governors and MCAs have to spend big sums of money traveling in this digital era when there are alternative ways of obtaining information.
“We have so many problems affecting our people and it would be a shame to see the county representatives traversing the world with our money. We elected them to address our issues and not to misuse our money,” Says a resident who I sought his view.
As if that is not enough, Mandera Governor, just like his Wajir and Garissa counterparts, has been on employment spree, recruiting political cronies and family relations with abandon. There has been heated debate on the rising wage bill in the national government, but why are we turning a blind eye on county governments?
Avery disturbing report was recently released by the Controller of Budgets, which exposed misappropriation of public funds in scales we never imagined. Counties, including Mandera, have used billions of shillings on allowances and other forms of wasteful spending, besides converting counties in to tribal, family and clan units. The post-independence monster called county government is to blame for the rising cost of living as the devolved units have aped the national government’s ‘eating’ culture.
It’s disheartening that those who have been entrusted with steering our counties-counties that have been marginalized for the last 50 years- towards development are the same ones working to cripple them.
It therefore beats logic that a time when Mandera County and the entire country is grappling with rising inflation and the national government is trying to contain a bloated wage bill, Mandera County Assembly is making an expensive and unnecessary trip to Israel. What happened to Treasury’s austerity measures unveiled last week by Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich?
It’s our job to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of our county funds. The county governments of NEP continue to thrive on concoctions and are hell-bent on misinformation and misleading the public for the simple reason of diverting residents’ attention from the real issues.