Mandera County Government Reacts to Claims of Devolved Funds Misapproriation

Mandera County Government Reacts to Claims of Devolved Funds Misapproriation

After persistent claims of embezzlement of devolved funds, underdevelopment and general corruption leveled against the administration of Governor Ali Roba of Mandera County, his government has released what it calls a counter claim to refute the allegations. About a month ago, activists filed a case of corruption against his government that will come for mention next week and the opposition party EFP has claimed that the governor is presiding over mass land grabbing and larceny. The opposition party EFP said that the governor is presiding over a government of mega corruption. They go on to claim that no development has taken place in the county since he came to power. They accuse him of unfair distribution of resources and skewed hiring of top officials. They say of the 27 Chief officers only 9 hail from outside his camp.  They say he has forcefully evicted people from rain fed farm fields in Garba Kholey and Arta Athi which were historical farms in the name of building government institutions. Critics allege that instead the governor has turned 70% of the ”grabbed” land into private property giving it to a ”few exclusive individuals including his brother Ibrahim Roba”. Critics ask why the governor cannot use this land to build the ”controversial” proposed airport. They dismiss the airport project as unnecessary and one that the governor wants to use to ”expand his personal business empire”. The governor is a certified pilot and critics claim he owns several air crafts that operate in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa and ”is intending to establish the proposed airport as his “personal business fiefdom where his planes will operate from.”
They go on to claim that HE Captain Ali Roba has grown  to a billionaire overnight. ”From a tenant of a rented flat in South B’s Hazina Estate to a billionaire with palatial homes in expensive Karen, Kileleshwa, Mombasa and Malindi and owner of estates and business empires in London, Dubai, Turkey and Mogadishu” How did he acquire all these in just 7 years? they ask.  They accuse him of looking the other way as some of his top officials brag owning entire sub-counties all over the country. They claim his leadership is defined by political patronage that dwarfs qualification when recruiting. Critics say the county has nothing to show for the ”50 billion” shillings that has come into its coffers under governor Roba’s stewarship.

Government Counter Attack

In a counter attack against the claims, the government dismissed the allegations saying it has undertaken many development projects  since coming to power. The government says it has presided over massive development projects ranging from roads to health. It says it has constructed roads from Mandera town to Takaba to Banisa, Ashabito, Elwak and other towns, built state of the art health facilities in all the sub-counties and completed learning institutions from teaching college to a medical training facility that consumed hundreds of millions of shillings and ”has a lot more planned to accomplish”.

The government said it has constructed 830 KMs of tarmacked road in the 6 years it has come to power. 7 years ago Mandera had no roads but impassable dirt labyrinths says the government. It has since constructed, says the government the 55kms Mandera-Arabia road, 22 KMS Arabia-Fino, 36 KMS Fino-Lafey, Fino-Warqara, 46 KMS Rhamu-Oila, 22 KMS Guba-Banisa, 29 KMS Banisa-Eymole,70 KMs Banisa-Takaba, 24 KMs Banisa-Domal, 55 KMS Takaba-Qofole, 78.7KMS Elwak-Kutulo,35 KMS Kutulo-Elram roads and many others. It says the construction of these roads has drastically reduced distances between the locations thereby saving time, increasing travel convenience and enhancing the economies of its towns and villages.

The table below shows changes in time it takes to travel between the towns shown according to figures released by the government.

Location

Travel Time Before

Travel Time Now

Banisa-Mandera

10 hrs

1.15 hrs

Takaba-Elwak

4 hrs

1.15hrs

Takaba-Banisa

2.30hrs

40 Min

The above represents 82% reduction on travel time on average.

The government claims it has built new hospitals and health centers increasing their numbers from 33 to 88 operational facilities. This is a 167% increase it says.

The government says it built a new Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit with 6 bed ICU, 2 bed HDU, Endoscopy Unit, Renal Unit, Theater, radiology and cardiology units, Laboratory and specialized clinics. A maternity and new born unit with antenatal ward, 3 delivery rooms, a post natal ward, newborn nurse unit, in-house theater and a post operative ward were constructed says the government.

A Dialysis Unit with 2 dialysis machines and Sub county hospitals each to be upgraded with modern A&E Centers. A Comprehensive Maternal and newborn Units have been constructed says the government. 4 level 3 hospitals with expanded Out-Patient Department (OPD) wards and stand alone maternity units, 63 dispensaries with 11 stand alone maternity facilities are operational says the government. The ambulance fleet has increased from 1 to  13 says Governor Roba’s administration.

The government says it has reduced maternal mortality rate from 3,795 per 100 thousand births to 588. This represents 84.5% decrease in maternal mortality rate since it came to power the government says. Mandera was in 2014 said to be the worst place for a mother to deliver. The government says it increased health personnel from 152 to 864 including 38 doctors ”from only 1 doctor and 340 nurses when we came to power” continues Ali Roba’s administration. The government says it has recruited 21 anesthetists, 10 renal unit staff and 6 ICU nurses. Skilled deliveries increased from 4947 to 22,693 since 2013 (a 359% increase). Anti-natal Care (ANC) visits increased from 8378 to 25,472 (204% increase). Outpatient department visits increased from 197,061 to 965,612 representing an increase of 390%.

The government claims to have constructed technical training institute and markets. For example it says it has constructed 200 milk shades and more than 600 business units in Elwak, 165 stalls in Rhamu and 24 in Sala among many other markets for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

Critics say that the government claims is not supported by evidence on the ground. They say while the government has constructed few poor quality roads, the money claimed to have been used constructing has been ”inflated many times”. They say the government has  built ”big edifices that are not in use”. They say the hospitals and health centers the government has claimed to have constructed are ill-equipped and understaffed. ”The claim that the government recruited 38 doctors is laughable as many of those it recruited reside in Nairobi instead of living and working at their work stations” critics claim.

*Doctors absence from Northern Kenya hospitals has been a perennial problem. Medical officers were over the years accused of operating private clinics and hospitals in Nairobi while drawing salaries from their respective counties. This has been in part a failure of the national government, before the health docket was devolved, to supervise employees and ensure that they remain at their stations of work serving citizens.

Devolution has been with us for 7 years now. There has been a lot of claims and complaints from the people of Northern Kenya. It is time we take the bull by the horn and make devolution work for us. The excuse of blaming the central government for marginalizing and economically subjugating us is dying a slow death. Yes, we have to fight for more funds to the counties and more equalization funding from the central government to help us right the wrongs of the past era. However, we will be marginalizing ourselves if our resource managers misappropriate our devolved resources and embezzle public funds. It is everybody’s responsibility as each and everyone of us has a role to play not only in the safeguarding of public resources but also the development of our counties. Elected managers and the electorate, elites and ordinary citizens, no one will escape scrutiny when the hour of reckoning comes. Silence is not an option neither should speaking up be frowned upon. You know the 3 levels of discouraging evil and all or some is available to all of us. The dismissal of activists as social media warriors is a subtle encouragement of the evil they are fighting and belittling the cause they are advocating for, which in most cases, is prudent use of public funds, prioritization of development projects and haste to catch up with the rest of the country.

Over to you the great people of Mandera County and Northern Kenya. Who is right? The government or the critics? The administration says

Waa Beryey Sacab Laguma Qariyo loosely translated to mean ‘you cannot hide the sun with your palm’

Critics say:

Run iyo ilkawa waa lacadeeya  to mean the ‘truth and teeth are clear’.

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