By Andrew Ombuni
National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga has said corruption in the county governments is hindering full realization of devolution fruits.
In an interview with The County Guardian News on the sidelines of the 5th annual devolution conference, Raila pointed out that Members of the County Assembly, county speakers and leaders of majority were working in cohorts to siphon county money.
He said county assembly clerks, procurement officers and the finance department and officers from the department of public works had also positioned themselves to enrich themselves using the public coffers money.
The NASA leader regretted that the MCAs instead of passing legislations to help the governors achieve on their mandate and provide oversight role to the executive, they were on a mission to paralyze and stall development in counties.
According to the Opposition leader, the MCAs have conflict of interests with the Executive and as a way of solving the fallout, the governors’ fall into the trap and end up awarding contracts meant for the electorate to them.
“The MCAs are the contractors and yet they purport to carry out the oversight role in the assembly. Governors even pay speakers of the same assemblies for their cabinets to be approved,” he said.
He said there are some counties where the composition of the executive has not been fully put into place. The MCAs send emissaries to the governors to get kickbacks before they can approve the nominees and passing legislations especially those from the executive,” said Raila.
Adding “Governors are forced to take MCAs on bench marking trips so that they can get allowances, per diems and kickbacks. The MCAs are killing devolution from inside out and if we don’t stop it, it will kill all of us,”
But last year after governors were sworn into office, nominees to the County Executive Committee Members (CECs) and other top officials were rejected by the MCAs.
Some of the counties where governor nominees were rejected are Mandera County where the MCAs rejected all the names and in Machakos County, five nominees were rejected.
Other counties were Lamu, Siaya, Kericho, and Nakuru among others.
Vihiga Governor Dr Wilbur Ottichilo is the latest victim to flex muscles with the MCAs after they rejected three names of nominees to the chief officer’s positions.
They are rejected Ms Naomi Esiaba for the Youth docket, Jerry Kugo – Cooperatives, 25.9 per cent and Pamela Kusa-Agriculture docket. The positions have not been filled to date.
Raila said procurement officers, finance officers and officers from the department of public works were also a great let down to devolution.
He said the trio was conspiring to defraud the public coffers money by approving inflated estimates before awarding contracts so that they get kickbacks from contractors.
Raila also wants the Ethics Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to carry out objective lifestyle audit of all suspects in county governments who are under their investigations.
“Internal audit and procurement departments are a breach to good governance. Officers working in these departments are living beyond their limits,” Raila said.
Raila asked the MCAs to work together with governors for full realization of the fruits of devolution, saying counties are next centres of industrialization.
“Progress is impossible without change. We need a paradigm shift in the management of the affairs of the devolved units,” he said.
Adding “The MCAs should come out with legislations that will to it that pro-youths programs are given first priority by getting adequate funding to them start their own businesses for self-sustainability”
He said the MCAs are the only people who can make devolution succeed or fail and urged them to avoid supremacy contests between them and the executive witnessed in the last five years.
“MCAs threaten governors with impeachment motions as a way of getting bribed, that must stop and let them work towards realizing vision 2030,” said Raila.
He said is committed at fighting corruption at all levels of government so that the country can prosper economically.