It is exactly One Year and Five Months since the celebrated and castigated concept of Devolution was finally introduced into the Republic of Kenya after the failure of Majimboism in the 1960s. Under the new order, national resources will no longer be buried in the National Treasury at Nairobi but will be cascaded down to the 47 Counties; each with powers to use or misuse the said funds as they wish. The mitigation measures including the Monitoring and Evaluation put in place by the Public Finances Act and other laws to curb any cases of embezzlement of Public Finances by the “Trustees” are not satisfactory. As a result, the citizens languish in poverty as the resources are directed towards enriching the already rich “municipal tycoons”. One may even wonder whether Devolution was meant to Decentralize Services or to Decentralize Corruption. In the most objective manner possible, Get It From Me delves into the realities of Devolution in Turkana County, rated by independent analysts as one of the “Richest Poorest” Devolved Units in the country called Kenya.
Security: It has been said that you can do everything else to a citizen and they will be satisfied but if you do not provide security, the latter will negate the former in what I refer to as “underdevelopment negating development.” Since March 4th 2013, the security situation in Turkana South specifically and Turkana County generally has been in a mess. Week in, week out, bodies of innocent young children, men and women are found scattered in the bushes and homes in Turkana South after repeated and rapid attacks from the aggressive and ambitious neighboring community. Within the past one year, tens of raids have been reported in different parts of Turkana County, Cases of a whole village being held hostage in their own territory by armed gunmen from yonder hit the headlines early this year and sparked national and international outrage. The leadership of the county has failed in this area and the concerned authorities have often hidden under the mantra, “Security is the Duty of the National Government”. Little do they know that the voters in the affected areas do not know and do not care to know about the Son of Jomo, they know the Son of Koli. They will spit on your face if you read them the part of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 that states: “Security shall be the Duty of the National Government”. They want to see action done. They want to see more KPRs whether or not it is Uhuru paying them. They don’t want their local security guys to be deployed to take care of the snake-eating Chinese in the Tullow Oil’s Camp Site. So far, no robust strategy has been put in place by the County Government or the National Government at the instigation of the County Government. Governor Nanok campaigned and was elected on a “I will Drive Away the Enemy” platform but the current situation might punish him harshly in August 2017. It was a distinguished Governor of the City of New York who once remarked that Politicians like Campaigning in Poetry but Governing in Prose. The truism of this statement has been witnessed in the past one year.
Development Projects: One year after devolution, there is nothing to write home about in as far as tangible development projects are concerned in Turkana County. It was rumored during the post-election period that Governor Nanok will develop Turkana South more than other parts of the county but even the said Turkana South hasn’t benefit a lot from the incumbency despite producing one of their own to sit on one of the hotly-contested County seats. Some people say that if all factors are kept constant, it might be politically-tricky for all the current leaders to defend their seats. It is also rumored (and I can confirm this) that the current stand-off between the Senator and the Governor is not good for the development of the county. A critical look at the Budgets for the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 fiscal years also indicates that the priorities of the county have been largely placed upside down, with a greater focus on luxury and allowances while negligible amounts of the many billions pumped to us are allocated to sustainable projects. Governor Nanok has to do something on this Subject otherwise he will not be given a second bite on the cherry but an “E” and sent home.
Food Security: The Kenya Red Cross has predicted (and correctly so) that Turkana County will face a huge hunger problem that will be a result of the drought and famine expected in the coming months. After March 4th, the Turkana people wrongly thought that the “dog-eating” story will stop hitting the headlines. They also thought that many irrigation schemes will be established in many parts of the county after the good produce realized in Kangalita, Morulem, Nadoto, Katilu and other successful irrigation schemes. They also believed that the Todonyang Irrigation Scheme that was being fronted by Former PM, Hon Raila will be fast tracked so that the county can for once dream of being food secure. This hasn’t happened.
In grown-up democracies like the US and UK, politics is never done on the basis of winner takes it all. After March 4th, people expected Governor Nanok to “reach out” to his political enemies and bring them on board for the development of the county. However, what was witnessed was the exact opposite. The Obama-Hillary Principle was not applied and what ended up was a divided county with one side allegedly eating while the other one is starving.
Ekai Nabenyo is a Youth Leader and Law Student at the University of Nairobi. He serves as the Director & Co-Founder of Article 43, a Youth-led Organization based in Turkana County and which works to Empower Communities with focus on Alleviating Poverty and Improving Livelihoods.