You hear people complain many times that their county governors have done nothing. The public will blame the governors for the failure of their county governments to deliver services. Come election time, the public has become tired of them.
In fact, 25 of the 47 governors did not retain their seats during the 2017 general elections. Their popularity had declined and the people were tired of them. The people wanted a change. They waited eagerly for the elections to send them packing.
Yet, it would be a blatant lie to say that the governors are not doing something.
The county governors take credit for everything good in their county governments. When the county governments perform, the governors take praise. When they fail, the people point fingers at them.
We have seen some governors in the past launch various projects in their counties. Some of them are bizarre like mud houses and grossly overpriced wheelbarrows. Others include a KES 2 million Facebook account and KES 7 million used to purchase curtains. We also saw a bizarre gate in a certain county that cost millions of shillings.
County governors are indeed doing something. They are not doing this alone. It is a collective responsibility. They are the overseers of the direction the counties and their governments take. They are the chief executives of their counties and they are answerable for any policy the county governments undertake.
The county governments’ budgets facilitate all county government plans. When counties spend, they do so according to a plan. The budget is part of the plan. County governments raise money as revenue to implement these plans.
We (should) get budget implementation reports from the county governments and independent bodies like the Controller of Budget and the Auditor General. These reports (should) show how the county governments spend money in a particular financial year. Where is this money put into use?
Much of the money goes to recurrent expenditure and the rest on development. The recurrent expenditure covers administration, remuneration (salaries, etc.), operation, and maintenance costs (and debt obligations). The development or capital expenditure covers much of the development projects.
Therefore, the fact that county governments spend money on development might indicate that they are working. The same extends to the county governors. Otherwise, the constant stories in the media about development in the counties would be meaningless.
Yet, some of the governors bribe journalists to report positive stories. These governors know they have done little to bring development to their people. This is sad and points to a deficit in leadership and bad choice of leaders by the electorate.
Up to this point, we all know that the public often says their governors have done nothing. Just ask any person if they have seen any projects the governors or county governments started or implemented in their neighbourhoods. Many will say no while others will say they are not sure. Only a handful will say they have seen the projects implemented where they live.
Does it mean that people say the governors have done nothing without actual evidence?
A good way to find the projects county governments implement is to seek them out. Look for information on the projects in the news or media, the county budget (reports) or from the county government. Then go to the location and find out if the projects do actually exist.
People had many expectations with the devolved system of governance. The system has worked for some and disappointed others. However, what is unanimous is that the fruits of devolution are evident in many parts of the country.
What the governors and their governments are not doing is to amplify the stories on development. They are only using a few of them to draw PR and political mileage. Take the example of a certain county governor launching a single cow in the past. Another launched a substandard bridge that cost millions, which shows wanton misuse of public resources.
Governors and their governments do not communicate development because they do not care about public access to information. Therefore, they should not blame the public for criticizing them for doing ‘nothing’. The law demands county governments to prioritize public communication through a variety of media.
Information on county performance is public information. However, the governors seem oblivious of it. People in their administrations are very suspicious, bureaucratic and some are outright snobbish. With such an attitude and atmosphere, no information flows. People are not aware if governors perform or not.
Therefore, the governors should provide information on projects they implement, especially with the coming of the access to information law. Moreover, it will make people become more aware of what the county governments are doing.
The County Assemblies should also play their role efficiently by ensuring this information is made public to enhance service delivery and public participation at the county level.