Supremacy wars will paralyze devolution, Ojiambo tells stakeholders

Former Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Josephine Ojiambo makes an address during a past event


By Abednego Mwikya

Ambassador Josephine Ojiambo has said sour relations among players in the devolution implementation process will capsize the process prematurely.

Citing the supremacy conflict recently witnessed between the National Assembly and the Senate over the question of duplicity of roles, Ojiambo said the two arms of the legislature played totally different roles anchored in the constitution and called for respect for institutions established by the supreme law.

“Both institutions are critical for the seamless running of government processes. One concerns itself with devolution and the other oversights the national government. By respecting this fact alone, there will be no point of conflict between the two arms,” said the diplomat.

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She also called for domestication of devolution, adding that it was a foreign idea that needed to be applied in such a way as to address the needs and challenges of the country.

“The fact is devolution is a borrowed idea, majorly from the United States. The two countries have different socioeconomic and political backgrounds which precipitate different challenges and needs. Devolution should be tailored to address these unique needs of our country,” she added.

Although devolution has been hailed for improving the lives of citizens at the grassroots, its implementation has been bedeviled by a plethora of challenges, the biggest being rivalry and poor relations between (among) the players involved in the process of its implementation.

A classic example is that of the almost constant rivalry between governors and Members of County Assemblies. One of the worst standoffs happened in Makueni County in the first term of Governor Kivutha Kibwana where MCA’s refused to pass a budget for a whole financial year, crippling operations.

The national government and Council of Governors have also been locked in a not-so-pronounced war over the number of devolved functions and whether such functions were supposed to be completely or partially devolved. Delayed and insufficient disbursement of county funds by the national treasury has served to worsen ties between the central government and the devolved units.

Ojiambo spoke when she joined a caucus of former elected leaders for a review of the challenges facing President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s governance.

Singling out corruption and inefficiency as the key issues that, according to them, needed to be dealt with immediately, the caucus said they would soon present their recommendations to the public and the relevant authorities for action.



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