Friday, 14 November 2014
Devolution is not helping Northerners because of zero- sum game politics.
Twenty months later, residents of Northern Kenya have nothing to write home about devolution. in fact one can authoritatively say that, in the restive North, devolution maintain governors’ lifestyles and those of their stooges -talk of fuel guzzlers, unending seminars at the coast, 24/7 presence in Nairobi and MCAs tripping to where-who-knows just to have selfies with wazungu waiters and flight attendants (of course no one receives them). Devolution is turning out contrary to people's expectations.
Two of NEP counties top the county revenue allocation list. To be precise, one was allocated 8 billion in the recently released proposed allocation - 2015/16 financial year. What can't that do? A lot!
It's unfortunate that 80 per cent of that is going to recurrent expenditure leaving very little for development. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there are ghost workers. Devolution is not about salaries, fuelling vehicles, foreign travels and holding workshops. It seems devolution has been misunderstood and many governors have seen it as an opportunity to create jobs for their relatives, side-kicks and friends.
Governors are particularly spending a lot of money on foreign and local travels yet they had not undertaken any tangible development projects. Even after some have launched irrigation schemes worth billions, famine came and swept all including the trees. One wonders what happened to the crops. 'Birds' have eaten them, they will say, in defence.
The never-ending tribal clashes and cowboy contractors make things worse. Last week, the Star newspaper reported that the bombings in the border county of NEP was as a result of vicious war between contractors. "Three explosions spaced out in one hour sequences rocked Mandera town Wednesday morning as contractors compete for roads tenders. The explosions caused by IEDs are believed to be the work of road contractors competing to get tenders to tarmac roads in the county. In the first explosion that occurred at 7:30am, a tractor that was leveling a section of a road within the town was damaged, the driver suffered minor injuries." How about Marsabit? Wajir? What makes you think the tribal clashes were not financed?
The dwellers of the restive North who have known no real development, literally, were made to believe that they were "marginalised" because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. That is true, somehow. They have always hoped devolution will be a quick fix to “marginalisation” which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region. That is yet to materialize and no signs of big-time change are forthcoming mostly because of the kind of leadership in office and not devolution.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. But we can at least go for the best among the worst. Lets keep changing them. Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.
I challenge you to tell me of any development project worth mentioning, from Marsabit to Mandera County. Which one? Tell me!