By Billow Kerrow
Just what does ‘one man one vote one shilling’ mantra mean? Resources should be allocated based on population? Or number of registered voters? Not at all. It’s much more.
The battle by leaders from Mt. Kenya for more revenue allocation is an ideological pursuit of supremacy for political and economical control of the country. Economic might is essential in determination of political power. And huge public resources channeled to the region since independence have yielded economic might that is now been leveraged to exert more influence and control.
The clamour for resources did not start with county funds. The leaders have constantly reminded Kenyans about their entitlement to more national resources and development, alongside the persistent reminders that they have the tyranny of numbers to determine leadership of the country. They have argued ad nauseam, without grounds, that they generate most revenue in the country, and hence are entitled to a lion’s share. Even after suspending new projects in other parts of the country, the national Government continues to launch new projects in the region. Specific economic stimulus benefiting the farmers in the region such as was announced by the Government in the region last year was not new. For the region, the grass must always be green, whatever the season.
Mt Kenya region has 8 Million people by the 2019 Census, out of the country’s 47.5 Million, representing 16.8% of the total. If the Sh 316.5B county funds were allocated to them based on their population, they would get Sh 53B. That would be one man, one shilling, but would they be satisfied? NO! For the last 7 years, these counties received total Sh 305B of out of the Sh 1.889 trillion allocated to all counties, based on the old formula. This is 16.2% of the total! They cried foul! Under the proposed formula, they target to get more, any which way they can!
Total registered voters for the 9 counties of Liakipia, Nyandurua, Kiambu, Nyeri, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Muranga, Kirinyaga and Embu was 4,382,054 in 2017, out of 19,601,502 for the country, being 22% of the total voters in the country. The 4 counties of Western alone, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma had 4 Million registered voters, just short of that of the 9 counties of Mt Kenya, and account for 21% of the total registered voters. But in terms of revenue allocation for the 7 years, these 4 counties received Sh 183B, compared to Sh 305B Mt Kenya region got! A difference of 1% more registered voters earned them Sh 122B more than what Western received! Who should be crying foul or demanding one man one vote?
The underdeveloped and marginalized counties of Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit & Turkana with over 4 million people have an area of 290,000 sq kms, representing 50% of the country’s land mass that has remained unexploited, courtesy of our policy mandarins largely drawn from Mt Kenya region. The 9 Mt Kenya counties cover 35,000 sq kms, less than half the size of Marsabit county! In economics, its land, labour & capital that create production. Labour (people) alone cannot. These counties also have the highest poverty indices in the country. All the Arid & Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties share the same fate as the ones I have mentioned above.
Equalization Fund of a paltry 0.5% of the national budget was provided for in the Constitution to help ASAL counties get roads, energy, water, etc. Again, the same leaders undermined its noble objectives and expanded the list to include nearly all counties. No county would even get Sh 100 Million a year! Nonetheless, for whatever it is worth, the Fund has never been disbursed to date by National Treasury.
Equity underpins resource allocation in our Constitution. Yet, it remains a mirage. Nearly Sh 5 trillion has been spent past 7 years on development projects by National Government. It’s anybody’s guess which region got the lion’s share. The audit of our public service establishment by Public Service Commission (PSC) too revealed folks from Mt Kenya region took far more than their entitlement relative to their population. Despite pledges to do so, no attempt has been made to remedy the situation by National Cohesion & Integration Commission (NCIC). On appointments to key state jobs, I need not state the obvious.
It’s not just about shillings. Its More!
Billow Kerrow is former Mandera County Senator