You hear people complain that their county governors have done nothing. A good example is the Nairobi governor Evans Kidero. Nairobi residents often complain about poor disposal and collection of waste. The other problem is incessant traffic jams that render the city roads impassable during rush hour. These two tasks are under the management of the county government of Nairobi.
Kidero heads the Nairobi County Government. As the governor, people blame him for the failure of his government to end traffic jams and to collect garbage. They say that he has slept on the job and let cartels run his government. His pride and arrogance makes the situation worse. It has detached him from public favor.
Governor Kidero is among the many county governors that face the same dilemma. In fact, half of the 47 governors will not retain their seats come the 2017 general elections. Their popularity has declined and the people are tired of them. The people want a change. They are waiting 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 are doing something
The county governors are taking credit for everything good and bad in their governments. When the county governments perform, the governors take praise. When they fail, the people point fingers at them.
We have seen governors launching various projects in their counties. Some of them are bizarre like mud houses and grossly overpriced wheelbarrows. Another is a sh2 million Facebook account and sh7 million for 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 CEOs 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 get budget implementation reports from the county governments and independent bodies. These reports show how the county governments spend money in a particular financial period. 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, 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 shows 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.
County Governors do not communicate development
Governor Evans Kidero was trending on Twitter with people saying he has done nothing. Yours truly did not join in the bandwagon but rather posed a question. Asked people if they have seen any projects the governors or county governments started or implemented in their neighborhoods. A large majority said no while another substantial group said they were not sure. Only a minority said they had seen the projects where they live.
Does it mean that people say the governors have done nothing without actual evidence?
A 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 budget 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 an example of a certain county governor launching a single cow. 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 new access to information law.