10 Years of Devolution: A Thin line between devolved growth and devolved corruption

By Charles Okech

On 27 August 2010, Kenya promulgated what has been viewed as one of the most progressive constitutions globally. Whilst several issues warranted the country a paradigm shift, a devolved system of governance was of key concern. Chapter eleven of the Constitution provides anchorage to the new ship: “Devolved Kenya”, an emblem of hope that reimagines governance in the country, bringing power and its benefits close to the people as spelt out in Article 174 in the Constitution.

Currently, the country is marking a decade of a decentralized system of governance. Let’s spare a moment of reflection as we, the people, mince and bite on the pros and cons of devolution. As to the pros, and using Article 174 as the marking scheme, a somewhat level of satisfaction cannot elope Kenyans.

To begin with, the decentralization of state organs, except education, has proved beneficial in-service delivery and accessibility. Miles that would have been taken to save lives have been shortened as health facilities and roads are accessible to the people. The farmers need not travel to the capital to have their issues addressed; they can be served in the comfort of their environments. These are a few positive pinpoints of how devolution has eased service delivery.

Furthermore, with the growing literacy levels and vibrant youthful population, devolution has created job opportunities. Recently, Nairobi City County conducted interviews to employ about 3000 residents of Nairobi city, hoping to ease the burden of unemployment. Several projects have equally been rolled out in other counties that will spur economic growth through employment for its people.

Moreover, over the decade, we’ve had great moments when the rubber meets the road. Such moments can be defined by counties being flawed with corruption scandals. As sung by Eric Wainaina, the culture of Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo (corruption) has long been practiced in the country. The country has defected from Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo to Nchi ya Kitu Kikubwa, where corruption is ona scale of billions.

While speaking at the University of Nairobi on its 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the EACC CEO Twalib Mubarak highlighted that it had charges against almost all governors for the terms 2013-2017 and 2017-2022. What a shame to the nation! The absurd reality is that devolution has become the decentralization of corruption. To exacerbate the toxicity of corruption is the unfolding situation in Uasin Gishu County over fraud scholarships to Finland. County officials have blatantly stolen from its citizens, mothers, and fathers who sacrificed their sources of livelihood only to be the pocket money for a few rogue officials.

To our county leaders, this is not what Kenyans signed up for when they yearned for a devolved state. Let us sanitize devolution and give it the dignity it deserves. There is potential in this course; however, let us start first with the mends.

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