COUNTY ALLOCATIONS AND SUCCESSION POLITICS

2022 numbers: Majority don't count, it's the top up

This is essentially selling one’s birth right in exchange for political support, which is never guaranteed.

In Summary

• What is emerging though is that due to political considerations and the 2022 succession politics, political formations seem ready to ignore their core support base in exchange for top up votes in less populated counties.

• This has the long-term effect of marginalising counties that are densely populated, and it also encourages misuse of public funds due to low absorption capacity.

Senators, led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo, at Parliament Buildings on July 7. They said they will oppose the revenue sharing formula
Senators, led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo, at Parliament Buildings on July 7. They said they will oppose the revenue sharing formula
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

The Senate is still locked in a heated debate about the third generation revenue sharing formula amongst counties.

This is a process that is predicated upon the provisions of Article 217 of the Constitution, which requires the counties to share monies based on a criterion developed every five years.

The last formula used the 2009 census data but the new one is using the 2019 results. What is interesting is that a lot has changed, if you compare the number of households in Kenya (12,143,000) versus the number of a household membership, currently at 3.9 persons.

It has also been proven that some counties inflated their populations in 2009 to get an unfair share of the national revenue, even when they generate very little own source revenue.

In the proposed formula by the committee on Finance and Budget, the counties that are the most populous are set to benefit, in a move to correct this anomaly. For example, how do you explain a county such as Kilifi with a population of 1.4 million people getting Sh10 billion, while Kiambu, with 2.417 million, getting Sh9 billion?

A corresponding amount of money should naturally follow functions and people in that order.

However, this problem is historical, with the ideological thinking of the two main independence parties of Kanu and Kadu still dividing the country nearly 60 years later on due to the narrative of big tribes versus small tribes.

At Independence, the initial majimbo system failed to work since the jimbos couldn’t sustain themselves. Tanzania President Julius Nyerere pointed the danger of having only one centre because if mistakes are committed there, then they end up affecting the whole country.

We have seen how monies from the national government have been stolen and stored in offshore accounts, thus impoverishing Kenyans. Interestingly, the converse is also true. Monies are being stolen from the counties, and reinvested back to the same city, where they were generated from in the first place: Talk of water flowing in the river.

A case in point is Samburu county whereby Governor Moses Lenolkulal was accused of misappropriating Sh2 billion with evidence adduced in court including palatial homes in Lavington, blocks of apartments in prime locations within the city and businesses such as petrol stations.

A governor from one of the counties in northern Kenya allegedly transported a colossal amount of money using an ambulance, while some other county officials were intercepted by the police at a road block with similar funds as well. Such wanton misuse of public funds while the demand for services remains high is indeed dumbfounding.

Admittedly, counties should be given funds based on how much they generate so as to avoid over-reliance on the centre. Let’s also not just share the cake, let’s bake it as well.

Further, if we are to argue that it takes a longer time to deliver services due to distance covered, it’s equally true that one can cover a longer distance within a small radius, when administering the same services to a greater number of people. In addition, the resources demanded by a big population are higher than by a smaller population.

What is emerging though is that due to political considerations and the 2022 succession politics, political formations seem ready to ignore their core support base in exchange for top up votes in less populated counties.

This has the long-term effect of marginalising counties that are densely populated, and it also encourages misuse of public funds due to low absorption capacity. This is essentially selling one’s birth right in exchange for political support, which is never guaranteed.

It also introduces new forms of marginalisation to cure the old ones, thus proffering some form of tortuous retributive justice predicated upon the mantra of slowing down the horse for the donkey to catch up.

Some elements of self-preservation on the part of ambitious nationalists negate the very essence of representation, taking the majority of Kenyans for granted. With an unfair share of National Government Constituency Development Fund, coupled with the exclusive reservation of the equalisation funds to the frontier counties, it’s a matter of time before new forms of marginalisation emerge, thereby further pushing the country into the ever elusive pursuit for national cohesion and collective sense of purpose.

The Senate must rise up and make its decision on this matter, even though the governors backed out on our quest to have counties get Sh350 billion that would have seen no county losing money. Many people are suffering due to this indecision and procrastination.

You don’t lead by pointing and telling people where to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. It’s not so much that you fail; what is most important is to give it a try so that those who follow you will have as higher chance to succeed.

Dear fellow senators, let’s not postpone our contributions to serve humanity, lets pay the worthy price.