Ruto opposes merger of counties, says decentralised system stays

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Deputy President William Ruto has opposed the proposed merger of counties, saying the move would take Kenya backwards.

He said Kenyans made a decision to have a decentralised system of governance and discussions on the abolishment of some counties would not be supported.

“We are focused on making devolution work better by channelling more resources to counties. We cannot fault devolution so that we go back to a centralised system of governance,” Ruto said.

He spoke in Lamu County on Tuesday in the company of at least 15 Coastal MPs during the opening of Pate Girls Secondary School.

Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori supported the DP saying devolution had opened up even the remotest parts of Kenya, and any suggestion to merge counties would be injurious to the public.

He said leaders need to put their energies on ensuring devolution works rather than fighting it.

Several MPs among them Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Shariff Athman (Lamu East), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Kassim Ali Sawa (Matuga), Jones Mlolwa (Voi) and Michael Kingi (Magarini) said they will oppose any move to take Kenya back to an “old system of governance that had centralised resources in Nairobi”.

Other leaders who accompanied the DPinclude Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Ali Wario (Bura), Charles Kanyi (Starehe), Paul Katana (Kaloleni), Ben Tayari (Kinango) and Gertrude Mbeyu (Women Rep, Kilifi).

Others were Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Ruweida Obbo (Women Rep, Lamu) and Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu Senator).

The proposal to merge counties to create huge economic blocs has been floated by a section of ODM politicians.

They want the proposal to be among the items to form the referendum questions.

 Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Vihiga’s Wilbur Ottichilo said the devolved units should be relooked.

“We have a bloated government. There are 349 MPs and 67 senators who earn close to Sh1 million every month. There are so many MCAs plus the 16 independent commissions are too many for the country’s economy to support,” Oparanya said.

He said some counties are like villages yet they receive the same treatment with bigger counties.

Ottichilo said: “Devolution was about development but the wage bill in most counties is too high, leaving only 30 per cent for development. Let us go for the Bomas draft that proposed the country to be divided into 14 regions.”

On Tuesday, however, the leaders who spoke in Lamu said they do support plans to reduce the number of MCAs.

They argued that the country cannot go into a referendum to create a position of Prime Minister to serve an individual.

The leaders said there was a need for the country to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report for Kenyans to be united.

They said the move would help resolve the perpetual land problems facing the region.

“If we want to build bridges in this country, land problems should be addressed,” Jumwa said.

Bura MP Ali Wario said if Kenya must undergo the hyped constitutional review, then the land issue in the country, particularly at the Coastal region, should be given prominence.

Kingi said as Coast MPs, they had unanimously resolved to back Ruto due to his development record.

He noted that the region had grown tired of playing peripheral politics that added no value to the lives of coastal residents.

“Ruto understands the problems of the poor. He knows every challenge every corner of this country faces. He, therefore, stands the best chance to come up with solutions to those sticky issues,” said Tayari.

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