September 25th 2017

Top Stories / National

Nanok to chair Governors' Council, symbolising devolution's equalising power

Bomet governor Isaac Ruto was the first chairman of the Council and he set the governors on a collision course with the national government, establishing the Council as the legitimate voice of county governments against immense political damage to himself.

By Edith Kariukiekariuki@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 22 May 2017 15:11 EAT

Governor Nanok, the new Council of Governors chairman.

Meru Governor Peter Munya has handed over the Council of Governors' mantle to his Turkana counterpart Josphat Nanok. Mr Munya served the governors for two terms during which he maintained the council's firm opposition to the national government's efforts to muzzle the governors, a feat Mr Nanok is expected to continue.

Bomet governor Isaac Ruto was the first chairman of the Council and he set the governors on a collision course with the national government, establishing the Council as the legitimate voice of county governments against immense political damage to himself.

Being a Jubilee member, he was marked early as a critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, and the bad blood recently saw him defect from Jubilee to the NASA coalition. Mr Ruto also formed his own party, Chama cha Mashinani, with the goal of fighting for the interests of county governments.

This morning all governors from the 47 counties converged at the Hilton Hotel for the election. Mr Munya, who gave his last address as the council chairman, gave a so-called 'State of Devolution' report in which he highlighted some of the gains the country had realised since the new system of governance was adopted in 2013.

He spoke about the challenges facing devolution up to date such as unfair sharing of economic resources within the county. He also spoke about underfunding and said that even though the revenues which were collected from the counties have grown in the last five years, that is not enough to cater for the developmental needs of the counties.

But he emphasized the achievements, notably in the health sector. “In 2012, there were only 3,757 nurses while currently the number of nurses at county facilities stands at 24,373 while those at the national referral facilities are 1,224,” he stated, adding that “this an improvement from the previous era when health was the function of the Central Government.”

Currently, he said, there were 4,080 doctors working at county facilities and 5,557 doctors at national referral facilities, making a growth of 4,637 doctors. He said: “Challenges of inclusivity, people being marginalized…they are challenges that were brought in by an over-centralized system of Government. So far a lot of resources have been set aside and taken to counties and all Kenyans can bear witness that devolution is transforming this country in a big way,” he said.

Though he will serve for only two months unless he gets re-elected back in the August 8th elections by clinching the seat back, the fact that Mr Nanok of Turkana was voted by his colleagues to chair the council speaks to the empowering power of devolution, his being among the most marginalised counties. By any institution, this is the time that an ethnic Turkana will heading a major national institution.

The new chairman is well known to be an ODM diehard member and has been having quite some differences with the Jubilee government. At one meeting where President Uhuru Kenyatta officiated in Turkana, he told the president to his face that it was his (the president's) policies that were contributing to marginalised Turkana despite there being a devolved system of government.

The differences between the two arose over Mr Nanok's opposition to some sections of a mining law that President Kenyatta had personally inserted in the law, and which would deny Turkana a higher share of oil revenues once production of the oil already discovered there starts.

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