About 6,000 delegates are expected to attend the sixth annual devolution conference which starts today at Kirinyaga University.
Kirinyaga County has for the last week been buzzing with activities as contractors put in final touches.
Massive improvement of roads and parking bays within Kutus town and its surroundings ahead of the forum has been ongoing.
The main highway from Sagana town through Kagio and Kutus up to Samson’s Corner has been widened to accommodate the expected increased traffic leading to the conference venue. Multiple roads have also been fitted with street lighting.
The conference whose theme is ‘Transform, Deliver, Measure’ begins with a football tournament at Kerugoya Boys’ Secondary School on Monday.
Four teams of county assembly members, governors, senators and Cabinet and principal secretaries will participate.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially open the conference on Monday while ODM leader Raila Odinga will address the conference on Wednesday.
Deputy President will make his address on Thursday.
Security has been beefed up with Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga noting that additional police have been deployed in neighbouring counties as well.
“We expect that the visitors will not stay in Kirinyaga only but also in other counties like Nyeri and Embu. Due to the big numbers we anticipate to have, security has been beefed up all around the region,” Mr Nyagwanga said.
Traders in Kirinyaga started recording booming businesses as delegates streamed into their hotels in readiness for the forum.
However, the decision by three governors to skip the meeting has raised pertinent questions on whether the annual gathering is losing its relevance.
Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu) have opted out of the meeting, questioning the requisite Sh2 million subscription fees required for each participating county.
Last year, ward reps from Elgeyo Marakwet questioned a decision by the county executive to pull out of the fifth conference in Kakamega citing similar reasons. Governor Alex Tolgos said his county did not have money to facilitate their participation.
Critics describe the annual meeting as ‘just showbiz for governors and their staff’.
“It has become a talkfest year in year out. What value does the annual meeting add to the local mwananchi?” posed one social media user on Twitter while responding to a tweet on the Council of Governors (CoG) page.
But CoG chief executive Jackline Mogeni says the conference provides a platform through which all stakeholders in devolution evaluate performance of both levels of government in matters policy, law, accountability, good governance and service delivery.
She adds that the overall objective of the conference is to safeguard devolution gains, enhance understanding and appreciation of the county governance system.
“The conference has emerged as a key event in the devolution calendar. All actors and stakeholders look forward to the forum mainly to share experiences but also give constructive criticism and feedback where things have not worked well,” Ms Mogeni says. “It is also important that the public participates because the governors work for them and give feedback whether they have cracked it or not.”
Senators, who have in the past snubbed the conferences, appear to agree with the CoG on the importance of the annual gathering.
Their attendance of conferences in Nakuru and Kakamega in 2017 and 2018 respectively was informed by the accommodating nature of CoG towards institutions of national government under the chairmanship of Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok.
The Senate Committee on Devolution has already rejected the reasons advanced by the three governors to skip this year’s meeting, arguing it is an attempt to mask their failures.
“The annual conference gives stakeholders the opportunity to review performance of county governments and therefore the withdrawal is an indicator that they think the counties they run are private entities,” says committee chairman John Kinyua, who is Laikipia senator.
After the forum, the proceedings and presentations made are published in a report. A final communiqué is also issued.
Reports by Nicholas Komu, George Munene and Kennedy Kimanthi.
The post 6,000 delegates expected to attend the sixth edition of the annual conference appeared first on Kenya News Alerts.