Kenya: Fresh from a three-week tussle with teachers over their pay, President Uhuru Kenyatta faces a new challenge.
Governors meeting in Mombasa have agreed to move forward with their bid to force a referendum to increase the powers of the Senate and allocation of national revenue to county governments.
The resolution comes even as it emerged that an order by President Kenyatta recalling former provincial commissioners, whose titles became redundant after the March 4 general election, to Nairobi is yet to be implemented.
It now appears the government might have quietly redeployed the former PCs to the counties, although their exact roles and designations are unclear, andgovernors have in the past complained that the officials are out to frustrate their work.
The Standard has established that the central government operatives are fl exing their muscle in the counties, and are now being called ‘regional commissioners’ or ‘regional representatives’ although their original roles were supposed to be assumed by the new county commissioners.
Following their meeting in Mombasa over the weekend, the 39 governors present published a statement yesterday on their intentions.
However, they emphasised that they support a unitary State without any “sectarian division” and “one sovereign Republic of Kenya.”
Known as the Shanzu Resolutions, and endorsed by all 47 governors (although some skipped the meeting), it says they will fight to ensure accountability and public participation in running the counties and want the allocation of national revenue to county governments raised from 15 per cent currently to a minimum of 40 per cent.
The governors agreed to kick off their drive for a national referendum by holding countrywide public rallies from next month, saying they need more cash for development of the devolved units.
The first of a series of “joint rallies” with elected leaders is set for August 31 “to call for peace, security and focus on development,” say the governors in their resolution.
“We will announce the venue of the first rally soon,” said Council of Governors chairman Isaac Rutto.
A spot check by The Standard at the provincial administration headquarters across the regions revealed that most PCs are still holding and chairing meetings in their offices.
Uhuru recalled all the PCs and provincial departmental heads on June 1 and ordered they be redeployed to perform other national duties.
This was to be done as part of the restructuring process of the provincial administration as required by the Constitution, which invalidated the PCs’ positions.
The recalled PCs’ were Njoroge Ndirangu (Nairobi), Claire Omollo (Eastern), Samuel Kilele (Coast), Francis Mutie (Nyanza), Ernest Munyi (North Eastern) James Ole Serian (Western), and Osman Warfa (Rift Valley). The presidential order was seen as a victory for governors out to wield power in their counties, but it seems to have been short-lived as the PCs are still in control of most operations in the area.
In a letter signed by Mutie in his capacity as the ‘regional coordinator’, the officer summoned all senior security officers in his area for an emergency security meeting at his office last week. Just like before, the ‘secret’ letter dated July 15, sent all the officers in the region running to Kisumu town, as they wondered who they should take orders from.
The officers included county commissioners, recently appointed commanders drawn from the CID, regular police and Administration Police from Kisumu, Saia, Kisii, Nyamira, Homa Bay and Migori counties.
“I need to see that the security situation in the region is alright,” Mutie said.
Mutie said PCs are crucial and will always play a major role in whatever capacities they are deployed to serve under by the government.
“Leaders in Nyanza should not worry about me. When recalled, it does not mean we cannot work. The Government knows why I am here and what I am doing. Deployment is going on,” he added.
In Nairobi former PC Njoroge Ndirangu is also still in officer more than a month after the President announced he and his colleagues had been recalled as part of restructuring of the Provincial administration.
Spotted on duty
Ndirangu has been attending presidential functions and the latest time he was spotted on duty was when he went to see off President Kenyatta as he left to Nigeria on Sunday.
He was present at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to welcome the president Kenyatta when he arrived from Nigeria.
Apart from the PC, all the Provincial Police Officers (PPOs) are also still in office and are yet to report in Nairobi as earlier announced in accordance with the devolved structure.
Interior Principle Secretary Mutea Iringo told The Standard that PCs and PPOs will be renamed regional commissioners and continue to serve their regions on security matters in a new structure.
But it is not clear under what arrangements they will be in office and where they will be operating from although two weeks ago Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the PPOs would be Jogoo House A with the Inspector General.
In Mombasa, Kilele also still occupies his big office in Mombasa, but told news reporters he is in the process of clearing before going to Nairobi.
Last week, the former PC, who had been out of Mombasa for a while, held meetings with different officials in his office and left at 1pm.
He enjoys the same cars and bodyguards he had before, and is yet to vacate his Government-owned residence.
Officers assigned to his former office are also still intact, and there are no plans to redeploy them. Employees at the former provincial headquarters in Nyeri and Embu confirmed that the PCs still pop into their old offices.
In Embu, Omolo who is now referred to as the Eastern ‘regional representative’, reportedly operates in both her Nairobi office and her former office in the Eastern Provincial Headquarters in Embu town.
Flying the flag
“She has been coming to the office in Embu on regular basis where she holds meeting,” said an Administration Police officer.
Omolo’s official cars have been sighted in Embu town several occasions flying the flag.
When contacted, Omolo declined to deny or confirm the claims, but referred us to the principal secretary in charge of interior ministry Mr Mutea Iringo.
In Nyeri, County Commissioner Michael Mwangi has been acting as the regional commissioner since Kiplimo Rugut was moved to National Youth Service as the director.
By Evelyn Kwamboka, The Standard