COUNTIES' SHUTDOWN

Governors to Senate: Bashing Oparanya isn't helpful, find solution

Say Senators have failed in their mandate, should not threaten to impeach governors.

In Summary

• Kibwana and Lonyang'apuo said it was unfair for senators to launch personal attacks on Oparanya over a directive to shut down county governments.

• They accused the Senate of deliberately delaying to find a solution on the issue thus crippling devolution.

Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing on the Ugatuzi Initiative.
AMBITIOUS GOVERNORS: Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing on the Ugatuzi Initiative.
Image: COURTESY

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and his West Pokot counterpart John Lonyang'apuo have come to the defense of Council of Governors chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya.

The duo on a KTN News interview on Thursday morning said it was unfair for senators to launch personal attacks on Oparanya over a directive to shut down county governments.

The two said county government staff have been offering services for the last three months without pay and it is only wise that they rest until the money is disbursed.

 
 
 

Oparanya on Wednesday while announcing the shutdown said the move had been occasioned by lack of resources after senators failed to agree on the revenue sharing formula.

“Since the Senate has not been able to unlock the stalemate on the flow of funds, it is not clear when this impasse will be resolved,” Oparanya said.

He said county health facilities will not permit new in-patient admissions and will only provide minimal outpatient services. 

All non-essential services have been suspended and county employees advised to proceed on leave for two weeks.

“In the meantime, the council will continue to push for a speedy release of county funds,” the Kakamega Governor maintained.

He said devolved units are suffering and the only way to end their pain is for the National Treasury to release the funds.

But the senators launched a scathing attack on CoG boss.

 
 
 

While some referred to him as a traitor and a liar who is leading a 'club of boys' hell-bent on attacking a House that defends devolution, others referred to him as a gangster.

They said it was the COG under Oparanya that went to bed with the Executive betraying Senators who had been fighting for higher allocation to the devolved units.

 "I want to tell my governor Kivutha Kibwana, if you close level 4 hospitals in Makueni, we will impeach you. It is an impeachable offense for any governor to take instructions from another governor and shutdown hospitals," Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said the move was a clear abuse of authority.

He said the CoG is not the employer of any employees of counties.

"Governors cannot even send a sweeper on compulsory leave. We have seen the chair of CoG overplaying himself with powers he doesn’t have, abusing senators as he wishes," Wetangula said.

But Kibwana said the Senate was fully to blame for the woes that have befallen on counties.

He said instead of shifting blame on the Presidency and threatening to impeach governors, the Senators should move swiftly and find a lasting solution to the issues.

"How can the Senate fail its mandate and accuse the Presidency and governors. The counties have no money and that has been the principal role Senate to defend devolution. They have wasted time in 12 sittings but have not arrived at a win-win solution on an issue that is not rocket science,"  he said.

Kibwana added, "It is laughable that the same Senators who have failed are expecting the governors to use miracles and get things done".

Kibwana said the Senate should just adopt the recommendations by the CRA.

"It is clear it is the Senate which wants to kill devolution. There was a lot of time that this debate would have concluded the matter. CRA presented the proposal last year in April, but senate delayed with the matter until now we are in September 2020 without a solution," he said.

Kibwana who doubles up as the Chief Whip of the CoG said the Constitution offers a minimum of 15 percent but does not offer maximum.

"The Senate should not play games with Kenyans or the Presidency. Some of them want to be governors in future, how can they if they can fail in such a manner," he posed.

The governor argued that it is common knowledge if a county has more population, it should get what CRA recommended because they need more amenities.

Kibwana said on the other hand, those counties that had been marginalised in the previous formulae should be given consideration as proposed by CRA.

"If counties are allocated 15 percent, the debate now should be how to utilise the remaining 85 per cent. The Senate cannot meet 12 times and fail to solve such a simple issue,"  he said.

"The bashing therefore on CoG chair is unfair because if the money is made available then such can be avoided."

His sentiments were echoed by Lonyang'apuo who said the Senate should not create a crisis from the situation.

He said services are getting grounded yet the Senate which is known as the house of honour is failing.

"It is clear that the Senate is in its own world. The economy has been crippled by corona and things are not okay. Oparanya did not sleep and wake up with a statement, it is a decision by all governors. This is why I say the Senate needs to be sanitised urgently,"  he said.

Lonyang'apuo said it is even shocking that Treasury CS Ukur Yattani and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka are all former governors who understand the struggles county governments face.

He said, as a result, the two should have been front runners in advocating for the development of the devolved units.

"The money is there only that there is no goodwill at the National Treasury," he said.

The governor said the Senate should use Thursday's session and come up with a
'white smoke' that will breathe some life in the situation.