Senators should take their work seriously

By Levi Obonyo
Friday, August 21st, 2020
Senate in session. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

What is happening in the Senate is inscrutable! There is no shortage of talk, talk and more talk.

In the coming week the Senate will, most probably, still not pass a revenue sharing formula to enable the counties receive funds to facilitate their operations. It will be the 10th time of trying.

We have a problem. The whole thesis behind the devolution project was to bring development closer to the people.

A lot of that is taking place in many counties. Consider the transformation that has taken place in counties such as Kakamega, Machakos, Makueni. Mombasa moved with speed to put in place an enviable rapid health response to the novel Covid 19 virus.

Murang’a County surprised the nation by putting up a hospital in days rather than the usual protracted approach beholden to the bureaucracies of procurement offices.

Nearly a decade down the line, if there is one thing that the Kenyan nation is agreed upon, then it is that devolution was God-send.

The Senate was created, among other things, as a custodian of the devolution project.

One would have to ask whether the Senate has worked as well as the counties that they were set to safeguard.

The debacle over the revenue sharing formula is an appropriate response. To try ten times to pass a bill and still fail speaks of the resolve of the Senators. Do the Senators take their jobs seriously? It is an open question.

Most senators spend their time plotting on how to become governors rather than focus on the work on the floor.

They are probably too pre-occupied with what is going on at the county level and how they can woo voters.

That the Senate wants to change the current revenue sharing formula is understandable.

But how did we get to the current formula in the first place? It seems that the majority of the Senate were not sufficiently engaged on the Senate bill that gave the country the current formula.

Now they are trying to untie a note they tied themselves with in the first place. But in the process of doing so, they are not as focused on the job itself as what might give them mileage.

It is obvious that in this debate the views of the people represented is hardly taken into account.

What the Senators present as the views of their people are no more than positions that either represent the thinking of the forces outside the Senate, their party leaders’ positions, or grand standing that would draw public attention and win the Senators some publicity.

For example, the Senator of my native county is one of those at the forefront of the stalemate currently shuttling from one conference room to another.

The proposed formula would certainly bring more resources to our county. Our governor, now in his second term, has, arguably done a great job with the resources he has received.

An amazing hospital complex is coming up, the road network has improved greatly, water supply has been enhanced, the county headquarters is shining, the old stadium has been rebuilt and all that. 

The revenue sharing formula on the table would bring more resources, a near billion shillings, to the executive to continue this work within the remaining short two years that the governor will be in the office.

But what is our Senator doing? He is debating and arguing that the people want him to vote in the negative.

Which people are these who want to delay the resources from flowing into the county?

That there will be forces seeking to influence the senators one way or the other is a given.

That is the nature of the job. But the greatest influence must remain “We the People”.

Unfortunately, the least voice that the Senators are listening to is that of  “We the People” of the county. 

Let Senators take the job of being a Senator seriously.  — The writer is dean, School of Communication, Daystar University