Murimi Mutiga and Munira Mandano @PeopleDailyKe
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday for the first time spoke against calls by some politicians for secession, warning that they would be met with the full force of the law. The President said he is ready to discuss legitimate concerns affecting Kenyans with leaders, but warned against engaging in unconstitutional activities.
Uhuru said he will not entertain anyone threatening lives and property of Kenyans or actions or utterances that threaten Kenya’s territorial integrity. Without mentioning the proponents of secession directly, Uhuru appeared to refer to recent secession calls by a section of Coast leaders, led by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi.
He reaffirmed his commitment to working with all leaders to address problems facing Kenyans despite their political leaning. Speaking when he opened an induction conference for governors and their deputies in Diani, Kwale county, the President said he was open to discussions with governors on issues that can help strengthen devolution.
However, he said, he would not engage in the “never ending political rhetoric of dialogue”. “I am open to discuss legitimate concerns with governors and others. But I am not prepared to engage in empty politics,” he said.
The President asked governors to get down to work so as to strengthen and deepen devolution and make a difference in the lives of Kenyans. “The election is over and each leader is now charged with delivering services to the people as we promised during the campaigns,” the Head of State said.
Uhuru regretted that for the past four years, the national government and counties had engaged in squabbles that could have been solved amicably had consultations and dialogue been given a chance.
This, he said, saw both governments rush to court to settle matters that could easily have been achieved through administrative processes. “A draft dispute resolution mechanism is now ready for validation by stakeholders.
I urge you all to make use of it when it is ready. Over the next five years, we must, and I repeat, we must strengthen and deepen devolution in ways that make a real difference in the lives of our people,” he said.
The President said in the next five years, both counties and the national government should establish a robust framework for development that integrates citizen priorities with balanced budgeting, strengthened fiscal discipline and accountability.
Chief protector The Cabinet secretary for Devolution Mwangi Kiunjuri asked governors to take stock of successes and failures made during the first phase of devolution and learn from them to strengthen system.
“We are privileged to be in positions of influence; I urge you to make devolution count even more in this second phase,” he said. The Speaker for the Senate Ken Lusaka said the Senate, being the “chief protector” of Devolution, will ensure no laws that undermine Devolution are enacted.
Lusaka assured the governors that the Senate will not engage in witch-hunting in the exercise of its oversight role, but warned them that they must remain above board and work hard to dispel the negative notion that governors are “drunk with power”.
“You must demystify this myth, set a credible legacy and demonstrate through diligent execution of your roles and deeds that you are elected to serve public interest and offer quality services to the electorate,” Lusaka said.
The chairman of Council of Governors Josphat Nanok said insufficient and delayed disbursement of funds by Treasury was hampering devolution. He said with the elections over, leaders should shun divisive politics and focus on development.
“We should seek dialogue and resist perpetuating polarised agendas. This is the only way we will refocus our energies on development,” the Turkana governor said.