Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday warned of an elaborate attempt to kill devolution even as governors from across the country demanded to meet President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta over the matter.
Mr Odinga urged governors and senators to unite in defence of devolution, warning that gains made in the Constitution that ushered in devolved governments could be lost.
The PM warned of attempts to undermine governors to dilute devolution, a system he said was being opposed by some government insiders.
He asked the government to allow governors to take over the offices currently occupied by provincial and county commissioners, saying that it was sad that some civil servants were humiliating governors.
“As a coalition, we stand strongly for the full and undiluted devolution of powers and resources to the counties,” said Mr Odinga. “That is why I want to call on all governors and county assembly members, regardless of party, to hold their ground, stand firm and demand to be given the full space and mandate to implement the devolution agenda for their voters”
He also urged senators to immediately initiate demands for full funding for devolved governments.
In Naivasha, where all the 47 heads of county governments were attending a workshop, they demanded an urgent meeting with the President-elect Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, get their commitment on devolved governments.
They have also expressed alarm at the manner in which the Treasury allocated Sh9.8 billion and then dictated how the money that the counties will spend over the next three months will be used.
Speaking on the sidelines of their first meeting, which is going on at the Great Rift Valley Lodge, the governors said they had sent messages to Mr Kenyatta asking for the meeting.
“We would like to know from him what he intends to do to ensure that there is immediate implementation of the procedures of devolution,” said Mr Isaac Ruto, the governor for Bomet.
He said the main agenda at the first meeting of the governors was to ensure success of the system that took effect with the election of governors and county assembly representatives on March 4.
“He (Mr Kenyatta) committed himself to implementation, it is very clear in the manifesto and I think it is very important and incumbent on him to assure the governors that we intend to travel this road together,” Mr Ruto said.
Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi, who heads the Transition Authority, on Tuesday said that a meeting between Mr Kenyatta and the governors would be convened immediately he is sworn in.
Mr Ruto said statements from President Kibaki on Tuesday, when he officially opened the conference, were “disastrous” and suggested the lack of political goodwill to ensure devolution works.
On Tuesday, the governors were angry at the President’s insistence that despite the devolution of political power to the counties, Kenya remains a unitary state.
“There is no unitary government in Kenya. We are simply in one republic called Kenya and the territory of Kenya is divided into 47 counties, and Kenya is a multi-party state and a sovereign state. That sovereignty is exercised at the national and county governments,” said Mr Ruto.
Wednesday was the meeting’s second working day and the governors embarked on a series of workshops to guide them on how to run the governments they now head.
In another tent nearby, the county speakers, their deputies, county clerks and interim clerks gathered for training on how the county assemblies ought to be run.