President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday launched two programmes that will see the National Government inject Ksh 50 billion as performance-based conditional grants to boost the capacity of county governments to deliver quality services to Kenyans.
The President announced the launch of the Kenya Devolution Support Programme and the Kenya Urban Support Programme in a speech delivered during the opening of the 5th Annual Devolution Conference in Kakamega.
His address was televised live from State House, Nairobi.
“Both, combined, will inject Ksh 50 billion into your county governments, to help you build and improve the systems that support your staff, and your delivery of services,” the President told county governments.
He added: “Just like us in the National Government, you must also strive to perform to the very highest standards; and must be ready to take a stern view of public servants who give in to lethargy and sloth,” the President said.
The theme of the five-day 5th Annual Devolution Conference held at Kakamega High School in the Western Kenya traditional capital of Kakamega is ‘Sustainability, productivity, effective and efficient governments for results delivery’.
President Kenyatta emphasized that the adoption of the two programmes demonstrated his Administration’s commitment to a devolution that truly works and serves every Kenyan.
The President lauded the success of devolution, saying more than Ksh 1 trillion was transferred to counties to take essential services closer to the people in the last five years.
The Head of State said the successful implementation of the devolved system of government has proved many ‘doubting Thomases’ wrong.
He observed that eight years ago when the country ushered in a new constitutional dispensation, few could have imagined that Kenyans would today be celebrating five transformative years of devolution.
“There are, indeed, many doubting Thomases out there, who did not expect a democracy as young as ours to so effectively manage the most fundamental change in our governance since independence,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “But to the surprise of many, in a short period of five years, we have firmly established a new tier of government, and held two sets of elections to it.”
The President cited, as some of the key milestones of devolution, the establishment of a legislative process firmly rooted in the county assemblies and the election of three distinguished ladies to the position of Governor for the first time in the country’s history.
Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Dr. Joyce Laboso (Bomet) beat their male competitors in the fiercely contested last General Election to clinch the gubernatorial seats in their respective counties.
“This, indeed, is yet another milestone in our political history: a reflection of how far we have come as a people, and how our democracy has matured. I, like other Kenyans, look forward to a future when at least half the leaders in this room are women,” the President said.
The Head of State expressed satisfaction that devolved governments are finding their feet and transforming the lives of the communities they serve for the better, thanks to the diligence of Kenyans and their leaders.
“Today, Makueni – under the leadership of Governor Kivutha Kibwana – has made good progress in rolling out its version of subsidized healthcare provision, and in fruit processing too; in Mandera, child mortality has halved due to the County’s investment in medical facilities; and Kapenguria now has its first Medical Training College,” he said.
President Kenyatta warned against complacency even as he praised the success of devolution, saying there was still a long way to go in truly realizing the development goals set under the country’s Vision 2030 blueprint.
The President underlined the need to utilize the five years of experience to build on the next phase of devolved government.
He called for close consultation, coordination and better communication between the two levels of government to ensure continued success of devolution.
“All of us were chosen to fulfill the will of the Kenyan people. Therefore, in our different capacities, we must all work closely to tackle any challenges standing in the way of a better Kenya for our people,” President Kenyatta said.
Devolution and ASAL Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, and Governors Josphat Koli Nanok (Turkana) and Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) – who are the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Council of Governors – commended the improved working relations between the county and national governments.
Other speakers included Senate Speaker Kenneth Marende, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court Justice David Maraga and host Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.