REMARKS BY H.E WILLIAM RUTO, EGH, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, AT THE 6th DEVOLUTION CONFERENCE, KIRINYAGA UNIVERSITY, KIRINYAGA COUNTY, MARCH 7, 2019
This is the sixth year since the Devolution train left the station on a one-way journey to an inclusive, just, equitable and united Kenya.
The journey we have travelled has provided us with opportunity to draw necessary lessons and accumulate sufficient experience to better manage our devolution project.
The devolution program is young enough to be flexible to accommodate lessons learnt but old enough to expand the array of possibilities on harnessing it’s benefits.
We are slowly but surely gathering a body of local expertise, knowledgeable leaders and technocrats on the workings of devolved governments , management of devolution challenges and the balance required for intergovernmental relations.
The success year on year on the management of successive devolution conferences is a clear testimony that we are getting better.
The single most important principle of the 2010 constitution is no doubt devolution. The success of our devolution project is printed all over the map of Kenya.
Mandera , the furthest and remotest part of Kenya today has Caesarian section births being carried out and the once dusty town roads are now paved and so is the case for many other northern counties in Marsabit, Wajir and Garissa.
County governments have improved the health sector where we now boast of over 11,000 health centers from about 8,000 in 2012. Turkana county, which, had four doctors before devolution set in, now has 73 while the number in Mandera now stands at 38 up from one.
For the very first time since independence, an open-heart surgery was performed in Mombasa and a brain surgery in Embu. Before devolution, these services were only possible in Nairobi and at great expense.
Overall, the number of doctors in our health facilities has increased from 874 in 2013 to 4,637 in 2017 while the number of nurses rose from 6,620 in 2013 to 25,597 last year. Community health workers now stand at 52,968.
Makueni is successfully implementing a model of the universal health programme that is benefitting hundreds of thousands of people in the county.
Uasin Gishu county has found an innovative programme to expand opportunities for thousands of youths in Tivets to learn and access paid internships as an excellent starting point to managing youth unemployment.
Narok and other counties have invested heavily in civil works equipment to construct, rehabilitate and make county roads usable benefitting thousands of farmers and other county entrepreneurs.
These successes in different aspects of devolved functions in different counties confirms the devolution success story.
To complement the efforts of county governments, the national government has embarked on an aggressive rollout of major trunk roads in the country to connect various counties.
An area of the Big Four Agenda that offers tremendous potential for transformative collaboration between national and county governments is found in the housing pillar.
The development framework guidelines and regulations that will govern the Housing Fund recently approved by the Cabinet is before Parliament.
It is noteworthy that county governments are also laying ground to embark on this programme. Twenty four counties have already signed MoUs with the national government on delivery of affordable housing.
Five of these counties, have identified land on which the housing units will be developed and are in the process of alienating the same in preparation for the rollout.
We have received an overwhelming response from strategic partners including developers, financiers, contractors and investors.
Preliminary assessment indicate that applicants are able to commit upto KSh2.6 trillion to finance the construction of over one million affordable houses.
The affordable housing programme has impact beyond delivering shelter, it has huge social and economic benefits.
These investment and activities will increase the GDP considerably and grow the construction sector by 14 per cent.
It is projected that it will create between 3 and five direct jobs and 8 indirect jobs per house constructed.
This is another opportunity for national and county governments to excel in collaboration.
I urge county governments to seize this opportunity, especially given that the national government has released Sh11.1 billion to counties for spatial planning, infrastructure improvement and capacity building.
There is great incentive for counties to scale up their capacity to implement this programme by institutionalizing affordable housing, fast tracking planning and alienation of land, strengthening public education and engaging the private sector.
I look forward to reports of progress and success stories at the next devolution conference.
The success in different counties in different aspects of devolved functions irrespective of size or population, is a clear demonstration that it is not the size of the county that counts but the innovation, the creativity and visionary leadership of county governments that matters.
American writer and humorist Mark Twain remarked “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters.”
Despite its small size and modest population, Kirinyaga County, has developed her own brand of coffee, which is ready to compete in the international market complete with an outlet to be opened next month in New York. This will benefit the farmers of the county with better farm prices and enhance foreign exchange for Kenya.
Despite its size, Laikipia county, has through innovation and technology enrolled 62 per cent of its residents, the highest in the country at the moment, under the NHIF programme.
Kwale has creatively rolled out the most comprehensive secondary and university bursary programme, benefiting thousands of needy students, in a county that had the highest school drop out rate in the country.
The success and future of devolution therefore, is not going to be determined by size or population but rather by creative, innovative and visionary leadership.
The debate about size and mergers is a treacherous anti-devolution narrative that is simplistic, retrogressive and seeks to reverse the hard earned gains of our reform endeavors .
It is a sly attempt to sneak a selfish, self preservationist agenda into the national conversation with the aim of derailing the country from the development trajectory.
In the face of this harsh and stark reality, suggestions for the creation of other layers of Government and bureaucracy, is reckless, pedestrian and outrightly thoughtless.
The future of our great nation just like the success of devolution, is going to be determined by creative, innovative, bold and visionary leadership.
Many of the Jubilee administration’s achievements from the Standard Gauge Railway, road network construction, electricity connection, the Tivet programme, reform of NHIF are a product of creative and innovative leadership.
Wastage, mismanagement and corruption limits , undermines and ultimately destroys the proper and optimal use of resources.
Appreciating this major threat, the Constitution provided for robust, independent, professional institutions to deal with this danger to our development.
The Government of Kenya, under our watch has provided the human, and financial Resources necessary for these institutions-EACC, DCI, DPP and the Judiciary to function effectively and efficiently.
The Constitution provides that these institutions are independent and professional. Article 249(1) states that “the objects of the commissions and independent offices are to protect the sovereignty of the people, to secure observance by all state organs of democratic values and principles and to promote constitutionalism.
These commissions are subject to only this constitution and the law and are independent and are not subject to direction or control by any person or authority.”
The biggest threat to the war on corruption is selective prosecutions targeting pre-determined individuals or projects; and secondly, rumor mongerers, propagandists and peddlers of half truths, exaggerations and distortions meant for media headlines to execute covert political schemes, which in and of itself constitute obstruction of justice.
Some of these propagandists are so notorious and brazenly incorrigible that sometimes they cannot even remember the last lie they told.
Before the last elections, you told us Eurobond proceeds were stolen by your competitor, this year you’ve conveniently forgotten and started another lie that your perceived future competitor has stolen money meant for dam construction but in both cases you’ve not taken an iota of evidence to any of the investigative agencies.
This is the unfortunate and reckless politicization of the war on graft and you who are engaged in this charade are the biggest single threat to the fight against corruption and are the ugly face of impunity.
Known political frauds whose word means nothing neither have the legitimacy nor integrity to lecture anyone on matters corruption or integrity.