Mr. Speaker, honourable members invited guests, ladies and gentlemen……….

First and foremost, I want to thank God for the opportunity to be with you today.

I was pleased and indeed honoured by Mr. Speaker’s invitation for me to address, this August Assembly of the Kitui County. Mr. Speaker, on 27th August 2010, we, the citizens of our beloved country promulgated a new constitution after two decades of agitation for it. Among the key pillars of the new constitution is devolution, which is enshrined in chapter eleven.

 Mr. Speaker, in March 2013, exactly two years ago, Kenyans went to the general elections and elected their leaders. All of us seated in this chamber today were honoured by the people of Kitui County and elected as their leaders. We are all products of that election. County Assemblies, like all other elective institutions therefore, are very important institutions of the new devolved County governments. No one, not members of the National Assembly, not Senators, Not even governors can down play your importance in ensuring that County governments succeed, because they must succeed. Do not be intimidated by anyone! I want to pledge to you that as your Senator for Kitui County I will do everything to support and protect this County Assembly both in and outside the Senate to ensure that you exercise your mandate fully. In this connection, I would like to confirm that the National government has, through the Senate allocated the following resources to Kitui County:

 2012/2013            Sh.273,698,415

2013/2014            Sh.5,314,985,989

2014/2015            Sh.6,540,498,549

 Already there are indications that during the coming 2015/2016 financial year Kitui County’s allocation will exceed Ksh.7billion. I am also vigorously pursuing allocation for the Equalization fund which I am hopeful will also be forthcoming. While on the issue of allocations, I am aware, and indeed the Senate is aware, that County Assemblies, including the Kitui County Assembly are currently unable to effectively execute their mandates because of shortage of funds following the imposition of ceilings in the budgets by the CRA and the Controller of budget. As far as the Senate is concerned these ceilings are unlawful and were not approved by us. We will do everything to have these ceilings removed so that your work is not hindered.

Why is devolution so important in Kenya? Mr. Speaker, 52years ago, Kenya attained her independence after a serious struggle whose history you all know or ought to know. However, despite the over five decades of independence, the Country has been characterized by uneven development. During the over 50 years of independence, National resources were and have always been distributed to the favored few areas, based on the people in power.

Consequently, many counties, including our own, have remained seriously marginalized. Take infrastructure and water for example: there are today counties which do not have even a single tarmac road when other counties have these roads crisscrossing their landscape. Can anyone here tell me why the Kitui-Kibwezi Road which is category B is to date not tarmacked? Today, our county is experiencing serious water shortage, this notwithstanding the fact that the National government had promised Kenyans that by the year 2000 water would be in every household. We can say, as far as we are concerned that water resources have become even more scarce than ever before. Since I grew up for instance, I found my mother travelling long distances to queue for this commodity. Water was being scooped from river beds. It is the same story even today - the only new development is that my mother who is now 90years old used gourds to fetch water but today her great grandchildren have plastic jericans. Why am I giving this analogy? Because it is devolution, through equitable sharing of National resources that will bring water to the people, improve our infrastructure, bring quality health near to our people and improve general wellbeing of our people. We must all therefore, support devolution. This is why the CORD Coalition has been calling for increased share of revenue from the current 15% in the Constitution to at least 45% of the current government budget - not last audited accounts. Hon. Members must, therefore support the ‘Okoa Kenya’ initiative for the prosperity of counties.

One of the most important functions of the County Assembly, in addition to legislation is set out at article 185(3) which states inter alia “A County Assembly, while respecting the principle of the separation of powers, may exercise oversight on the county Executive Committee and any other County Executive Organs.” In my view, if devolution is to succeed, County Assemblies must oversight the Executive without fear or favour. It is through this oversight that the people who you represent can receive fairness from the Executive and value for money for projects undertaken on their behalf by the County government. I take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker to congratulate members of this Assembly including yourself for the oversight role they have been playing especially through the recent tours of projects. This exercise must not cease as it is a major function in ensuring that good governance of the County is exercised by the Executive across the board. In doing this however, the Assembly must be guided by facts and not rumours or hear say. It is in this regard deplorable that the Controller and Auditor General has delayed or neglected to carryout audits for most County governments, including Kitui County. This has rendered the oversight work of the County Assembly and even the Senate difficult.

Mr. Speaker, Corruption in Kenya today has reached high dimensions. Virtually in every procurement in government and even in Private Sector it has become fashionable that money exchanges hands. Corruption has been so pandemic in Kenya that it has even gone into agencies that are mandated to check it, including EACC. The recent revelations of corruption being practiced in the National Assembly, the body that is supposed to oversight the National Executive, is of much concern to all of us. It is a great shame not only to the National Assembly but to the entire Nation.  As a County we must not allow corruption to be devolved into our County and we must all exercise vigilance and ensure that all activities by the County government, whether it is in employment, procurement or general use of Public resources is done transparently and honestly. There can never be two ways to this!

Mr. Speaker, allow me to turn to the issue of Ethics by Members of the County Assembly. Chapter 6 of our Constitution underlines what kind of behavior is expected of all of us. The purpose of this chapter was to set standards of behavior which would carry this country forward. Unfortunately, there have been instances where as leaders we have not behaved as leaders in the eyes of the public. The recent fights on the floor of some Assemblies, allegations of corruption in Parliament and in some Assemblies, all these do not portray us well as leaders. I implore on all of us to study chapter 6 of the constitution and try to uphold certain leadership and ethical standards which are set therein. Again, Mr. Speaker, let me take this opportunity to praise the honourable members of this County Assembly. Their behaviour in and outside the Assembly has been exemplary. Kitui County can be said to be one of the most peaceful counties in the Lower Eastern Region, if not in Kenya. Not that there have not been or will not be issues where Hon. Members will differ among themselves or even with the executive. The guiding principle has been and will always be frank disclosure of issues, followed by dialogue to resolve issues when they occur. As your Senator I will always be at your disposal to provide any guidance or advice as you may require. Maintaining peace and harmony among all leaders will ensure that this County’s leaders save all their energies to foster development and prosperity of our people.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I appeal to all of us, even as we start our 3rd year of our leadership since the last elections to rededicate our energies to serving our people. Our County has enormous challenges but with the unity of leaders, I am certain that we can make a difference for the better. May God be our guide in everything that we shall do as leaders of our great County.

God Bless you all.

You can download the Senators speech here

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