Friday, December 14, 2012

Youth and Kenya Vision 2030


The Youth Agenda
Launch of Dira Yetu: Youth Priorities for the Kenya Vision 2030 2013-2017 Medium Term Plan
Hilton Hotel, Nairobi, 14 December 2012
 
 
Remarks on Youth Involvement on KV2030
 
 
My fellow youth, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to share with us this morning. This is a great milestone for the work of the Youth Agenda in ensuring that the youth factor counts in policy decisions of this country. KV2030 work began in 2005 and was seen as a great way of advancing the gains that were expected from the implementation of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERSWEC 2003-2007). In June 2008, KV2030 and its first Medium Term Plan 2008-2012 were launched. This was after the formation of the grand coalition government which was occassioned by the disputed presidential election that triggered violence. It is important to note that the idea of a national vision was actually started by young people. In 2003 under the leadership of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya), 42 young people came together and developed the Promise of Our Generation which spelt a vision for Kenya. This was picked by the government and we think it led to the conceptualization of KV2030. It is thus sad to note that the young people were not as much involved in its crafting and have been in the dark as to its provisions. This is despite the fact that it is a vision for them.
 
 
It is therefore praise worthy that the Youth Agenda too the cue and in 2009 began a process of having the youth engage in the implementation of KV2030. This was with the publishing of a critical review of KV2030 by Kenya's youth. Since then they have held many public forums across the country and partnered with the key agencies involved with the implementation of KV2030. In this line I am convinced that the youth of this country have participated in laying a strong foundation for growth. engagement with KV2030 has brought a number of issues to fore. First is that while zeal for change is good; skill to design and deliver that ch├ínge is much ´better. This has been by the call to make clear proposals on what needs to be done and how best it is to be done. Secondly is that while there should mechanisms for wealth redistribution, there is a greater and more urgent need to think about production at source. This is the concept where focus is more on identifying regional and local potentials and supporting their growth. Redistribution assumes that there is sufficient production controled by a central power (in this case the national government). Given the productive potential of young people, our focus should be more on what we can produce for ourselves in our localities and not just what can be given to us. A third lesson is that our engagement needs to be more informed, strategic and timely. This means that we need to invest sufficient time in preparing ourselves for public engagement. The opportunities we seek will be of no value to us unless we have adequate preparation. Only then can we  and the people we serve enjoy our contribution.
 
 
The challenge of our generation is hence to be solution providers and not just recipients. We must role up our sleeves and engage on what we have. We need to identify our niche of engagement and give it our best. KV2030 will come to be when most of us will be at the peak of our careers and for the older ones approaching retirement. What  kind of country do we want to spend our sunset years in? That is the country we should help build and am convinced that KV2030 is the way to get there. This is a responsibility we can not delegate nor abdicate without facing harsh consequences. Let us make this year of Jubilee to be our time of increased impact for generations to come.
 
Thank you very much.
 
 
In Service to God and Our Country
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Coming Devolved Government: How well do we understand it?

When we go to elections on March 4, 2013 we will be saying goodbye to our current system of centralized government. We will usher in a decentralized government through creation of county governments. These 47 units will have powers and functions to deliver certain public services. They will effectively take up roles that were initially carried out by the provincial administration and local authorities, though not all as some will be taken up by the national government. The coming changes are immense and need wisdom in instituting them.

Kenya's devolved system bestows power in the executive and legislative bodies in the county governments. At the top of county government system there will be three important organs.

  1. County Executive Committee (CEC): Each county executive will be headed by a popularly elected governor and deputy governor. The governor shall form a 'cabinet' known as the county executive committee of at most 10 persons who are not elected in any office of the public. Thus the CEC shall be comprised of 13 persons including the County Secretary
  2. County Public Service: Below the CEC will be the County Public Service headed by the County Secretary working working with the County Public Service Board. All public officers appointed in the county will be recruited by this board competitively.
  3. The County Assembly (CA): This will be comprised of persons elected from each ward in the county as well as those nominated from party lists based on proportion of votes won. The county assembly is the legislative body of the county. It will be headed by the Speaker working with the County Assembly Service Board. The CA is responsible of making county laws, policies, approving budgets and providing oversight in service delivery within the county. County Assembly representatives are not allowed to be involved directly or indirectly in service delivery. This is in accordance to the principle of separation of powers.
 Within each county there shall be various service and governance units all of which shall be under appointed officers or boards. This are:-
  1. Cities and Urban Areas which shall be categorized as either City, Municipality or town. Each of this unit shall be under a board. Such board shall have members appointed from various professions and interest groups and they shall work on part time basis. The secretary of the board shall be the city, municipality or town manager. This shall be a professional officer charged with the day to day service delivery within the specific city or urban area.
  2. Other areas that shall fall under sub-county which shall be equivalent to Constituencies. Each sub-county will be divided into wards and each ward into villages. Each of this units shall be headed by an appointed administrator.

All appointments within the county shall be vetted and approved by the County Assembly.

From the foregoing one observes that we have to be extra vigilant in deciding who to elect as the county governor as well as county assembly representative. A governor with an unsurpportive county assembly will not function. The elected governor should be a people and resource manager. One with a vision and clear strategy to get the county headed to prosperity. A negotiator who can convince the county assembly, national government and other investors to support the county. A mobilizer who can rally people to support his policies and pay taxes to ensure efficient service delivery. An innovator who can lead the county to great investment paths that will see less money leave the county and more come in. A common sense thinker who will deal with problems as they are and lead the county towards prosperity. In this we the citizens have to take up our responsibilities and demand our rights.

This we need to do knowing that future generations will celebrate or mourn our decisions. This we do in Service to God and Our Country.

Abraham Rugo Muriu

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homecoming

It is great to be back home. Now I appreciate home than even before. I have seen the said first world and indeed its advanced. Germany is a rule based society where efficiency and time keeping are the values of honour. Where your word is to be trusted and where what you see is what you get. They are technologically advanced and have very reliable public funded safety nets. Their public transport is great and the general organization of their economy well run. They have food for their people and shelter for all. They are a very hard working people and for them if you cannot do it perfectly then don’t do it at all. Now we know why Made-in-Germany is always a trademark of great worth.

They have a good decentralized government and many small functional cities. The land side where they produce their food and the forest covers are well guarded. Thus most people live in the cities and towns hence freeing land for large scale production. We found that farmers especially for dairy, wheat and barley are among the very rich people. Those who live in towns and cities have the possibility to hire small plots for kitchen gardens. They thus can produce their own food...but not for sale.  Their system of education is rather relaxed and hence children get an opportunity to explore their interests at an early age. They also get to specialize rather early. Most schools are public and in almost all states education is publicly funded for all persons below age 30. Based on the right to information principle, teachers are obliged to give pupils at all ages all the necessary information including on reproductive health. It is then expected that the students would make the choices that best serve them.

All this said, what have I brought back? As as some of you may be aware, I did graduate with a Master of Public Management specializing in Public Policy and Administration. By the grace of God I topped my class. I was in an international class of 26 - 2 Ghanaians, 1 Ugandan, 1 Cameroonian, 3 Egyptians, 1 Rwandese-Canadian, 1 Kosovorian-Swissish, 1 Mongolese, 1 Guinean, 1 Japanese, 3 Vietnamesen, 2 Indonesian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Argentinian, 4 Chinesen and one Kenyan. And in some classes a few Germans. This has enabled me to get a glimpse of how the rest of the world views various issues.  My biggest concern is how I translate both the attitudes, skills and knowledge that I got into productive ideas in building our country. How do we translate the efficieny and time management of the germans, the hardwork of the Japenese, the tenacity of the chinese, the compassion of the vietnamese, the beauty of the rwandese and the elegance of the ghanians just to mention but a few into practical ways of a national lifestyle. For having looked at our country from outside, I am more than ever convinced that attitude change is a critical starting point. The heart of our problems is the problem of the heart. We need, starting with me, to search and turn our hearts. From easy income to earned income. From Godfathers to God the father. From do I know you? to are you qualified? From just speaking our mind to minding our speech. From living for the now to living with a vision. From just saying what should be done, to doing it. This turn will be unconformtable at first but is definately worth pursuing. Afterall, shall we pass out as flowers that never shined or as a clouds that never rained?

We have work to rebuild our country that we can neither delegate nor abdicate. Only we can do it. As we register and prepare to vote a new government at National and County level. Let us not plan to leave it to them to lead as they wish, we need to be involved. The Constitution provides a prime place for citizen participation in decision making. Let us apply ourselves to every opportunity that is there. Let us live and teach our children to live by the labour of their hands. To aim high and work hard. To seek to excel in all our ways. Let us raise the standards in our body politic and service to humanity. And when all is said and done, let the be much done than said.

Abraham Rugo Muriu

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Farewell


Our dear friends. It has been a great pleasure meeting and knowing you during the 19 months that we have spent in Germany. Our only wish is that we had spent more time with each other. When we arrived here, we little could have imagined how fast time would fly. You have showed us great kindness and we remain forever grateful. Our son had many of you to play with. You opened your homes but more importantly your hearts to us. You have given us the opportunity to learn from you but also to share with you what we knew.

Be it in the university where we lived and studied or in the church where we shared in our faith, you did not fail to support us. We encouraged each other to do our best and sought God's guidance in our lives. For others we interacted in social forums where we discussed that which concerned us most. We remain grateful to you for helping me to see the world from other angles. We have enjoyed your beautiful country despite the cold weather. We have enjoyed your trains and buses, your cities and land, your bahns and bicycles. Yes ours has been an enjoyable time in Deutschland.

Now comes the time when we must go back home. While it would be desirable that we stay, it is of necessity that we should go. That we should go to join our fellow country women and men in delivering the promise of our generation. That we should go and share with them the ideas we have accumulated during our stay here. That we should take our son to see the great country where he was born. Some of you have expressed your concern as to the state of our country Kenya and of Africa at large. Indeed challenges do abound and I must not pretend that the road ahead will be easy. But as we have suggested before the opportunities far much out way the challenges. Our brothers and sisters have what it takes and are making a difference for good. It will take time but it shall surely come to be. The fact that the past has been bad does not mean that the future is hopeless. Just like you my friends, we are not so proud of some of the pains that we have inflicted on each other through self-centred leadership. And now that we know that which inflicts us then we are better placed to deal with it. This is the generation that shall see our country turn towards prosperity for all.  

What we ask of you is to support our country where you can. Not much with money and techniques but more with space and freedom to invent our solutions, make our mistakes and build our legacy. With the encouragement and moral solidarity that seeks to bring out the best of what we have. With  fair trade conditions that see both sides benefit. With time and patience that has been known to bring out all solutions to bear. This we ask of you and this we shall hold ourselves to. To build our country for the common good. To advance justice for all within and beyond our boarders. To support the weak and encourage the faint. To be all we can as God gives us the strength to be. We wish you well and hope to remain in touch.

Abraham, Faith and Amani Rugo.
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

As we Graduate....

UNIVERSITY OF POTSDAM
MASTER OF PUBLIC MANAGEMENT 2012 GRADUATION CEREMONY
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Speech on behalf of the Graduating Class
By
Abraham Rugo Muriu
Distinguished guests and my fellow graduands, it is my pleasure to share this moment with you. First of all I congratulate you for making to this day, we have all worked hard and today marks a great day in our lives. It is 1 year since we set foot in this university seeking to better our knowledge, skills and attitudes in public management. Then we were like the blindfolded persons who had came into contact with the proverbial elephant. Some of us thought public management was as rough as the skin of the elephant, others as smooth as its tasks, others as a heavy and rough a blanket as its wide ears and still others as a firm trunk as the elephants legs. But today, we have, thanks to our very able professors and supporting faculty, have a feel of these different aspects of the elephant. My fellow speaker has ably elaborated the experiences we have heard both in and out of the seminar rooms.

We will remain forever grateful to the MPM office for all you have done. Long before we arrived in Potsdam, you kept us informed and helped us prepare. Georg received us and showed us the city, Tjorven and later Felix ensured all logistics and paper work we needed was done, and Martina never rested until we had filled the last course form correctly. Dr. Gebhardt and Ms. Carboni not only ensured the programme run well but also kept encouraging us and gave us an ear whenever we needed one. Ms. Carboni brightened us with her constant smile even when she had all reasons to be angry at us. What you have done and been to us will remain etched in our hearts and professional foundation.

Our professors and their supporting faculty have taught us with all dedication possible. Each course was well organized and delivered. You patiently listened to us share our experiences of our feel of the “Public Management Elephant” and helped us see and feel the other side of the elephant. You managed our cultural and other differences and worked to bring the best out of us. You taught us that with hard work and discipline one can achieve great results. We thank you for every effort.

Our supporters, Family, DAAD, GIZ, governments, just to mention but a few, it’s your support that has seen us successfully complete this programme. For this we thank you. Our family and friends for all the encouragement and support, we thank you. You cheered us when we were flying high and supported us when we were crawling. All in an effort to make sure we kept moving forward.

Unto my fellow graduands. For 12 months, we have spent time together studying and sharing experiences. Sometimes we agreed, other times we disagreed but at all times we remained together in the MPM boat. We have remained stronger and better together. Our representatives, Jing jing and Ganimeti, we thank you for never tiring in listening and taking our concerns to the appropriate table of decisions. To each of us, I thank you for making effort to make the class enjoyable. Today we can proudly say that we are better, enlightened and wiser than when we first came. We came with little and now we are loaded with much. We came expecting to receive and now we leave to face a world that expects to receive from us. We came to get and now we go out to give.  Our graduation marks the end of our studies here and the beginning of a new life. A new life of seeking to apply what we have learnt.  A new life of greater and wiser engagement in the public sector.

Our guests today represent all those who impacted our lives during this one year. The support, lessons, insights, knowledge and guidance that they gave us was their lifetime gift to us. Our gift back to them, I suggest, is to serve humanity without fear or favour. To serve out of a clear conscience, and not just serving to clear our conscience. To make it our personal and collective responsibility to build our part of the world towards prosperity. To serve with our eyes on a better future and our hands on today’s labour. To advance the course of justice to the extent possible and relieve humanity of the pains that abound. This calls us to be firm at work and clear in our mind. It calls us to do the right even when it may be unpopular to do so. And knowing us all, I have no doubt in my mind that this is something we can do. While none of us will manage to change everything, everywhere; let’s make it our aim to change something, somewhere. Let us make it our aim to leave a legacy wherever our career road will take us. And when all is said and done, let there be much done than said.

Danke, Danke, Danke Sehr and God Bless You All.

In Service to God and Our Country
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Monday, September 24, 2012

Doing and Being in this Election Period

This piece is inspired by a sermon on what Christians should do in an election year in Kenya by Bishop David Oginde. We are already in a period of intensifying politics. This is as the March 2013 general election draws near. There are several efforts towards peaceful and fair elections. One would wish a state where we did not have to think of conflicts and pain during elections. However, the past has not been the best in this regard. The key question is, what then should we do? This question is worth answering. It points that we have an outward obligation to make our society run smoothly even when we have differing opinions. So we need to participate in the elections, preach peace and respect opposing opinions. But while this acts are all in order, there is another side that we rarely give attention to. This is on what we should be individually in such a period and at all times?

I have long held the opinion that our outward actions are a reflection of our inner state. We only advance peace if we are peaceful within ourselves. We are honest and just if this is a virtue we have individually purposed to live by. Hence while there is need to do something, lets choose to be something. To be peaceful. To be honest. To be fair. To be just. To be respectful. To value life. The doing will be more enriched if it is supported by a being. Lets us be what we want to do. The famous saying by Mahtma Gandhi was that we must be the change we want to see. It is one thing not to forward that mail or SMS of hate; It is another to love the person who you want to hate. So as the election period sets in, lets use the time to deeply search our hearts and cultivate individuals who are virtous, God fearing and loving of others. Long after people have forgotten what we did, they will remember what we were.

As we do much to build a peaceful country, let us be much more inwardly. Will we?

In Service to God and Our Country
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Monday, August 27, 2012

Of the Destruction of a Country......


I write this with pain in my heart as I see all that is happening to our great land of Kenya. I write it because  I want to see change and I want it to start with me and you my reader. The country is reeling in pains of hunger, hopelessness and unrealised dreams. Many a person feel trapped. Everywhere they turn they find a person offering help but at a price. The politician asks for their votes, the pastor asks for a seed (money), the teacher asks for better pay, the hospital asks for a deposit before a life saving operation can be done and the bank asks for your most valuable asset as colateral for a loan whose interest is as high as the amount given. Where do we turn as a people? And in the midst of all this pain, are there genuine people who are willing to serve for serving sake, to earn their just income and be contented with it? People who are willing to pay the price of building a just system. I hold strongly that there such people in all facets of our society. People who are keen to see justice flow like a river and that every Kenyan is accorded the due dignity s/he deserves.

But where is the problem and who holds the solution for it? Is there hope beyond this dark phase our country is in?

There have been prophesies and amazing words of knowledge to the effect that Kenya holds a unique place in the map of the world. This is undiniable given the great interest the international community gives to Kenya. I have to qualify that the interest may not necessarily be in line with Kenyans aspirations for their country. That aside,will Kenya realize that position through a miracle or is there something each individual citizen must, and immediately so, do? Will Kenya develop in the real sense where we no longer struggle with problems of putting food on the table and giving basic education to our children?

Yes we will, but first two things stand on the way - Greed and Personality Cults. The oxford dictionary defines greed as excessive and selfish desire for wealth, food, power etc. It further notes that this desire is despite the fact that one has already enough e.g. one is not hungry but just wants more food. A look around Kenya reveals to you how much greed has become a driving factor. I hold the position that the fuel behind corruption and clashes is simply greed. Someone has a salary but still wants more and thus exploits others by virtue of his position, another has power but wants to gain more or retain it at all costs including taking others  life. The situation is even worse, as ours has become a greedy society. This is where the giver and receiver are both greedy. Everyone wants more with no regard of the process. The end seems to be all that matters. This is what has led to many people loosing their money in dubious Quick-return investments.

But what hurts most is the greed advanced in the name of God in some congregations. It is not ours to judge but it is hurting to see all the emphasis on money by many of our preachers. And they are leaving no stone unturned. Every sermon and service seems to be geared on one thing - Giving. And its not giving of your time in serving in the church, but giving of your Money. This they will say is a way to attract Gods blessings. And as in investments terms, the more you give, the more God will bless you. This is based on warped interpretation of the holy scriptures. The interesting thing is that only the top man or woman (bishop, apostle, pastor) seems to be getting blessed. She or he, drives a state of the art car, lives in the suburbs of the city in a house that only appears to us in dreams, does shopping in abroad and flys fast class. The rest of the congregation keeps waiting for God to bless them as they continually plant seeds for all manner of blessings. So are the congregations also made of greedy people? Who are not contented with what they have and want more without necessarily working so hard for it. Who want only what God has to give?

Next is the greed for power that has turned our national arena to place of unending fights. Many a politician is seeking allegiance of his ethnic community so that they can have a bigger bargain on the power opportunities. Kenyans are having to pay a huge price caused by greed. Politicians and government officials in senior positions continually advance themselves more pay and allowances, which some don't want to even pay tax for. And this is justified on the name of "my people are gaining".

Greed has no limits and no dignity at all. A greedy person will take a poor persons last coin.

Can a country be built with this kind of foundation? Even God worked for six days in creating the world. Closely associated with greed is personality cults. This is where the man or woman at the top becomes the symbol of the life we desire to live. It is when s/he has the final word of how we should do things. One sees a lot of personality cults in religious and political circles. Where the Pastors or Politicians word is final. The followers do what the top person says without even stopping to engage their own conciuosness.

I observe that greed and personality cults is the bug eating on the foundation of our country. We must face it or face the destruction it will eventually bring. Kenyans must be encouraged to make choices of their own. One should stop and ask, how comes everything focuses on just money and power. We need to question the actions of our leaders in every aspect. That means we must also stand the test we employ on others.

Two last thoughts. In the spirit of openness and accountability, it will be of necessity to have all churches and political parties accounts audited and the said accounts made public. This is because they both use money contributed by the public. Leaders of any institution found exploiting or misusing funds should face the law. Secondly, I am keen to see a culture of work and reward fully instituted in Kenya. Every country has been built on the sweat of its people. The bible does say that God will bless the work of our hands (Psalm 128:1-2). Our national anthem calls us to build this our nation together.

Lets change where we are wrong and let us build on a foundation that will never be destroyed. I believe its never too late to do the right things the right way.

In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Monday, June 25, 2012

Amkeni Ndugu zetu, Tufanye sote Bidii

Amkeni ndugu zetu, tufanye sote bidii
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu
Nchi yetu ya Kenya tunayoipenda
Tuwe tayari Kuilinda 


Over the weekend I spent time thinking about responsibility. It occurred to me that regardless of what excuses and nice reasons I give for all I do, only I can do my part in making the world a better place. Our national anthem calls us to arise and work. The direct translation of amkeni ndugu zetu is actually "wake up or arise our brothers and sisters" and tufanye sote bidii "we all put effort or work hard at the task". Looking at what has happened in the years since independence and especially after passing the new constitution, there call to wake up has never been more urgent.

What we are witnessing is a determination by a few to get well as the rest of us pay all the fare. Its a determination to get and maintain power regardless of whether they serve the people or not. It is a determination to get all from all and give nothing in return. It is a determination that will only get our country into deeper troubles. 

It is said that the first step towards your dream is to get out of bed. To wake from your slumber and work towards your goal. We cannot afford to sleep at this time not even in the future and hope that somebody somewhere is working for our good. We need to do our part in nation building by being faithful in our work today, doing justice in all that we are doing and seeking what unites us than what divides us. There is always the temptation to do wrong because everyone is doing it anyway but that will only make things worse. This we must resist.

Winston Churchill during the WWII spoke to the soldiers and adviced "The heights great men reached and maintained were not by a sudden shot but they while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night". We are in a war to redeem the soul of our country and we cannot afford to sleep, we must be found toiling upward in the night too. 

In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts on Appointment of County Commissioners

On Friday, May 11, President Kibaki appointed 47 County Commissioners. This he did citing section 17 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which says' Within 5 years after the effective date (i.e. 27th August 2010), the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this constitution'.The County Commissioner and The County Governor are two separate entitities. The former is appointed by the National Government and thus will be accountable to it and the later is elected by the voters in the county and is expected to be downwardly accountable to the people. Do we need both? or can the governor do the work of both with support from the National Government? If the central government is busy thinking of its presence at the local level and is putting structures, who will put the structures of the County Governments? Is this not setting the grounds for a failed start of County Governments and hence dashing the hopes of Kenyans?

Its worth noting that according to article 6 and Schedule 4 of the constitution, both the National and County Governments have responsibilities at the local level. But the spirit of Article 174 (h) one gets the idea that the presence of the functions of the National Government at the local level are to be performed through the county governments. However, the interpretation of the President is that both the National and County Governments are to be present side by side at the local level. If this is the case then we may be headed for interesting times with an elected County Governor and appointed County Commissioner fighting for space. There should be no conflict but our experience has shown that there has been little support for full fledged local governance and this causes us to get concerned. Further the experience with District Commissioners and Local Authorities has been one of duplication, non-coordination and hence wastage of precious resources. Is this what we getting back too? Having two governments at the same level?

The appointments came at an interesting time and were also done in an interesting way. First there is clearly no observance of Article 27 on gender balance and also there are far too many persons from the same ethnic community. A better balance would have been most appreciated. Secondly, coming at a time when the County Government Bill has not been ascented too based on contentions about the security clause, it leaves many questions unanswered and may set the appointed officials on a colition path with the soon to be elected governors. One would have expected that we first, put in place the county governments structure and then we are in a better position to see how best to restructure provincial administration. And there is five years to do that. Why the hurry?

I hope this can be looked into afresh and I urge all leaders to avoid statements that will fuel up conflicts. At the end of the day, all Kenyans want is a system that works for their common good. 

In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mama Kazi:The County Woman MP

The most laudable provision in the constitution is that of a woman MP elected from each county. She shall be directly elected by the voters in the county and will sit in the National Assembly. So who does she represent, the county or the women? There is a thin line here. For one, she will be elected by both men and women and thus it will be absurd to aim at representing the women only. On the other hand, one notes that there has been under representation of women at the national arena. So she has the task of ensuring that both women and the county she is voted from are well represented. I have faith that the women elected will be of great value to moving our governance machine forward.

My concern is as to whether the women who have what it takes will offer themselves for election. There is a tendency in our good country for those who can to shy away sitting the maddiness of our politics. I urge our dear women who can do this not to shy away. Given that this is a fixed position, we will elect the woman we think is most qualified and its my hope that we will not be limited of choice. Women of conviction and who are forthright in their dealings. Women who value all and seek to serve without fear and favour. Women who will not be swayed by popular wind but will stand and defend all persons. Women who will bring a balance to the table of power. Women who are leaders and not just vocal activists. Women who are proud of themselves and not just seeking sympathy from voters. Women who have something to offer, not just eyeing what goodies they will get in the name of representing women (affirmative action). Women we will be proud to identify with as our County MPs. 

Looking around I have no doubt that each county has such women of substance who can ably represent their people. We need to support such with all we can. That is our responsibility. In return, I hope that every County Woman MP will give their best and serve the people fully. That is the least you can do for the people of our great nation. 

In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

County Governments and Local Authorities:same or different?

There are reasons to be concerned about how the County Governments (CGs) will be run as it will affect our daily life in many ways. While the popular talk is about how much money will come to our county, there are more pertinent questions of how well it will be used, where it will be used and who will benefit. Coming from a history of gross mismanagement of the Local Authorities (LAs) one is concerned as to whether the counties will be any different from the LAs? or are they the same thing only with a different name.

There are differences:-

1. LAs were established under an Act of Parliament subject to ammendments at anytime; CGs are established in the Constitution and can only be changed through a referendum.
2. LAs  were directly controlled by the National Government through the Ministry of Local Government; CGs  owe their allegiance only to the Constititution and their relationship with National Government is by mutual cooperation.
3. LAs  had their executive appointed by the National Government; CGs will have their own executive headed by a popularly elected governor.
4. The financing of LAs was provided for through an Act of parliament; CGs financing is entrenched in the constitution.
5. Whereas there were 175 LAs, only 47 CGs have been established to ensure they are not unviable as has been the case with a number of LAs.
6. Whereas the sharing of finances for LAs was informed by recommendations of an advisory committee; CGs finance sharing is informed by recommendations of Commission for Revenue Allocation which should be impartial

Some similarities include:-
1. Just like LAs, CGs have the mandate to provide local public services.
2. Where there is failure to deliver then the National Government can recall a CG.
3. CGs will be funded by local taxes as well as transfers from the National Government, this has been the case with LAs only that the amount was smaller.

This are just some points but what is most important is the collective will of the people to ensure that we are involved in how our counties are run. As shared elsewhere in this post, it will be a pity if we sit back and let the politicians and a few elite capture the system and do as they wish. Then only then can we ensure that CGs don't sink to what became of LAs. Citizen participation is not just a right; its our core duty.

Amkeni ndugu zangu.

In Service to God and My Country 
ARMS

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Governor: Politician or Manager?

This is by all means one of the most powerful positions created in the new system of government. Elected directly by the people together with the deputy governor as the running mate, the governor will be charged with heading the executive of the county government. The governor is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that  public services assigned to the county government are properly delivered. Its the governor who will ascent to all laws of the county. The governor will appoint the County Executive Committee (local cabinet) of persons not exceeding 10 from among non-County Assembly Members (CAM). Thus the largest CEC will be comprised of 12 persons. A person elected to the office of a governor can only serve for a maximum of two terms of 5 years each. There shall be a governor for each of the 47 Counties.

Though the governor will be a politician, he will be expected to play a leadership and managerial role to ensure that the county makes progress. That includes implementing all policies of the county; implement national legislation within the county to the extent expected; manage and coordinate the functions of the county administration and its departments. The governors will also be expected to lead their counties in establishing mutual relationships with other counties and the national government. A greater role of the first governors will be to cast a vision and lay a foundation of long term prosperity  of their counties. It will be a pity if a governor consumed by political survival and greed will fail to put a firm foundation. 

Thus the governor is the person with whom the back stops in terms of how well a county government is run and is to be downwardly accountable to the citizens in the county. S/he is also to be accountable to the national government for the use of resources transferred to the county and for any national government functions delegated to the county.

Our Rights and Responsibilities 
It is a fact that the governor will be the person who will carry the heaviest burden of service delivery. Some thoughts come to mind in relation to the governor and the functions of that office:-
  • Those of us with the requisite skills and capacity should seek to lead their counties as governors;
  • Professionals should seek appointments to the County Executive Committees as this will be the persons heading the departments (ministries) of the county government;
  • We have a right to receive services equitably at all parts of a county and a responsibility to play our role in abiding with the county laws and policies;
  • We have a role to hold the governor accountable for her/his actions for we are the beneficiaries or victims of any such actions;
  • The governor has a responsibility to foster unity in diversity in the county and a right to receive our full support in such efforts
Without disregard for any other elective office, it would be proper to make a deeper consideration on which person to elect as governor. It would also be in order to give such a person a majority in the County Assembly so as to ensure that much effort is on service delivery and not on fighting political battles in the County Assembly.

Do you know who is vying for governor in your county? 

In the next post we look at what will the County Governments are expected to do.


In Service to God and Our Country 
ARMS

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who is the County Assembly Member?

Each of us belongs to a county and much more a ward where the public services to be provided by both the national and county governments affect our everyday life. This is regardless of whether we participate in the governance or not. No one is to be excluded but there is all the more benefit to participate while seeking to ensure that services are economical, efficient and effectively provided to all without fear or favour.


The County Assembly Member (CAM) who will be the most local representative of the people will play an immense role in ensuring that county governments are kept accountable and supported. Each of the 47 Counties will have a parliament, referred to as County Assembly (CA) responsible for making laws, approving budgets and plans of the county, and providing oversight in the running of the county governments. The CA shall be chaired by the speaker and shall be elected for a five year term.


So who constitutes a CAM? Article 177 of the Constitution provides for four categories:
(i) a person elected in each ward by the majority of the registered voters (this can be an independent candidate or a member of a political party)
(ii) a person nominated through a political party to ensure that the composition of the CA is such that no one gender is more than 2/3rds of the members
(iii) a person nominated through a political party to represent marginalized groups, persons with disability and the youth. The County Government Bill 2012 sets the total number of this nominations at 6 persons.
(iv) The speaker, who shall be an ex-officio member elected by the CAMs from among persons who are not CAMs

The responsibility placed on the CAMs is to, (a) maintain close contact with the electorate and consult them on issues before or under discussion in the county assembly; (b) present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the county assembly; (c) attend sessions of the county assembly and its committees; (d) provide a linkage between the county assembly and the electorate on public service delivery; and e) extend professional knowledge, experience or specialised knowledge to any issue for discussion in the county assembly. A member of the county assembly shall not be directly or indirectly involved in the, (a) executive functions of the county government and its administration; or (b) delivery of services as if the member were an officer or employee of the county government. (See County Government Bill 2012)


Our Rights, Our Responsibilities
In this regard we all have rights and responsibilities, :-
(a) A right to seek the position of a CAM through any of the four ways and a responsibility to execute the duties given with a sense of devotion, justice and integrity.
(b) A right to support candidates seeking the position of CAMs whose principles, policies and values we agree with, and a responsibility to do so while shunning divisive, exclusionist, and bad blood politics;
(c) A right to be heard when giving our opinions to our respective CAM and a responsibility to ensure that such proposals seek to advance the common good of all persons in our ward;
(d) A right to demand for efficient services and a responsibility to honour our end through respecting the rule of law;
(e) A right to hold our CAM accountable of their actions in serving us and a responsibility to model the very actions we demand of others.

If the CA is to do its proper work properly, then both the CAM and the citizens they represent need to play their respective roles. Let those who can lead present themselves, let us weigh their offers and support them based on what they are willing to do and what we are willing to live with. Let us take the responsibility to build our nation seriously. Only we can build our country and since no house is built from the roof let us start with our wards.


In the next post we look at the Governor.

In Service to God and My Country
ARMS

Source: The Constitution of Kenya 2010 and County Government Bill 2012 (This is in parliament and thus some things may change)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Who shall we be electing?

As we get ready for elections, do we know how many elective positions we will vote for and what are the roles of each office? And what our responsibilities and rights are under the new system? This are the questions the next few posts will look at. To start with there are only two levels of government established in the constitution: The National and The County (This are 47 geographical units as established in schedule 1).

The two levels are distinct but not independent of each other. They are distinct because they have their structures of operation and can make laws within their areas, but they are not independent as of each other as they have to share resources and are guided by the same national constitution. The independence is actually a factor of functions and resources.

At the National level there shall be elected:-
(a) The President together with the deputy president (this shall be the running mate during elections);
(b) The Senator to represent each county in the Senate;
(c) The Member of Parliament to represent each constituency in the National Assembly;
(d) The woman county representative to the National Assembly

At the County Level there shall be elected:-
(a) The Governor together with the deputy governor as the running mate in the elections;
(b) The County Assembly Representative from each ward in the county

This persons shall form the Executive and Legislative arms of the respective units of government.

In the next post we look at the County Assembly Representative, the role assigned to them and what should be our right and responsibility in working with them.

In Service to God and My Country
ARMS

Source: Republic of Kenya, 2010. Constitution of Kenya as promulgated on 27 August 2010. Available at http://www.kenyalaw.org/klr/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/Acts/ConstitutionofKenya2010.pdf

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Greed as governance problem

Talking to church leaders yesterday, the chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), Mr. Micah Cheserem observed that greed is a root cause of the governance problems in Kenya. Greed is where people want to get more than they deserve at the expense of others and this including using all means possible. It is self focusing and only seeks to gratify the ME, MYSELF and I. What got me thinking is whether greed is just personal or can it be communal? Where a group of people bound by certain shared characteristics want everything just for themselves? In the case of Kenya can this groups be ethnic, religious, age sets etc?

So Mr. Cheserem challenged the church leaders with a question,'why haven't you helped us get rid of the greed that is threatening to destroy our country?' Was he talking on general observations or is it because of the kind of proposals he has received on how to design the formula of sharing resources between county governments? or was it from his experience at the helm of the central bank where he formerly worked as the governor? Only he can answer this queries. However, he has brought to the policy table a matter of matters:greed. 

Am I greedy? What about you? so if we are both not, then who was he referring to? Maybe the politicians (especially MPs) because they always increase their pay and are not even willing to pay tax. Maybe the rich businessmen who pay their workers peanuts as they make huge profits. Oh yes, it maybe the very people he was addressing, the pastors who are always urging us to give more and more so as to be blessed. I mean, it must be everyone else but me and you.

So before we identify that person out there who is greedy, lets turn do a personal search. Do we pay all our taxes? Do we cheat in exams or interviews? do we undercut our competitors and fellow employees so that we get that promotion? Do we underdeclare our current assets so as to benefit from special programmes meant for the poor? What about ouur expenditures on a work trip - are they all true and necessary? ooh and safaricom has given us unlimited internet access, but is downloading 35GB worth of data still within proper limits? Can we confidently say that all we have was genuinely gained?

The list can be endless of such questions. One thing stands out i.e. our society's character is the sum of our individual character. Its our little pieces of good or bad that makes the country great or awful. So lets not seek the greedy out there, lets purpose to tame our own. 

In Service to God and My Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu