LINUS KAIKAI: County revenue-sharing formula belongs to the dustbin
County revenue-sharing formula is a return to the colonial development formula; belongs to the dustbin!
On my kicker tonight, I kick hard against the proposed revenue sharing formula that hit a snag two days ago on the floor of the Senate. The formula which is now in abeyance, should be rejected and dumped in the nearest dustbin.
For me, this is personal. First, I hail from Narok County, one of the 18 counties whose cash allocation would be slashed should the proposed revenue sharing formula be adopted.
Secondly, I grew up and walked to rural schools within a district that the government called a ‘closed district’ and because of that I grew up knowing what marginalisation looks and feels like.
It was way after completing my secondary school education that I arrived in Nairobi for the first time ever; and I made sure to visit the gates of the Kenya High School; the school which two of my very close friends at Osinoni Primary School had selected as their national school of choice. It is the watchful eye of class teacher Mr. Ole Sikawa that saved the boys the embarrassment; we all learnt, most of us for the first time that the Kenya High School is a girls only school.
But then the old national schools tell a story that the senators proposing that ridiculous revenue sharing formula ought to know. From Kenya High School to the Alliance High School and Alliance Girls, Nairobi School to Lenana High School and outbound to Mang’u High School; all these schools were located in Nairobi and Kiambu, the two areas favoured by a skewed national development formula.
It started with colonial regimes that concentrated development along what they called high potential areas, mostly the highlands along the Kenya–Uganda railway. This skewed development formula was retained by subsequent post independence administrations and this ensured that development including tarmac roads, piped water, electricity and quality health services were concentrated only in the so called high potential areas.
By proposing a formula that returns the country to the past, senators had forgotten not just our history and our constitution, but also our reality as a nation.
The 2010 Constitution is founded on the principle of devolution and equity, because in 2010, Kenyans decided there will no longer be a high potential Kenya and a low potential Kenya. Drafters of the constitution went for a formula that will cure historical injustices and put all parts of the country on an equal footing down the development path.
Because of the equity-oriented 2010 Constitution, the colonial northern frontier districts became thriving counties, constructing their own tarmac roads and Wajir, conducting its first-ever caesarian operation.
Which is why I must applaud all the senators that helped avert a disaster in the house the other day. Northern and North Eastern Kenya, Turkana, the Coastal region and South Rift were all historically marginalised regions and they have hardly emerged from that marginalization.
The Senate must ensure a revenue sharing formula that is faithful to the Constitution and the aspirations of equality of all Kenyans. A formula that allows all regions to dream equally of good roads and quality schools, good hospitals and great industries. And that starts with the appreciation that the railway is no longer the criteria for allocation of national development funds.
And so I wholly reject the Senate’s skewed revenue formula, because above all else, I know marginalization. So for me, it is very personal.
That is my kicker.
Linus Kaikai is the Director of Strategy and Innovation at Royal Media Services
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