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Governor Ottichilo: We hope to collect Sh200 million in revenue.

figure By SUNDAY NATION TEAM In this interactive series, we invite readers to send in questions to selected public figures. This week, Vihiga Governor Wilbur Ottichilo responds to your questions1. The first County Secretary of Vihiga County, Ms Linnet Abdalla, was hounded out of office due to competing clan county assembly.

Previously she had diligently, gallantly and ably served as Deputy Town Clerk at the defunct Municipal Council of Nakuru between 2009 and 2010. Given the entrenched clannism in Vihiga County, is it possible for the county to hire and recruit personnel from other parts of the country in the ration of 70:30 as provided for by the Kenya Constitution 2010 and County Government Act? Dan Murugu, Nakuru class="MsoNormalFirstly, the former county secretary was not hounded out of office due to any known clan interests. The issues surrounding the issue were determined by the court and records are available.

What drives my administration in appointments is merit and competence while observing the constitutional and statutory threshold with regard to appointments. We have many senior officers from outside Vihiga County and we are aspiring to reach the 30 percent threshold.

class="MsoNormal2. Sir, the closest Vihiga County has come to having a university is Kaimosi Friends University College which is a constituent college of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST). At one point there was a proposal to have Ebunangwe also become a constituent college but it has failed to pick up.

What are your plans, in conjunction with MMUST, to revive Ebunangwe? Okinda Ananda, Luanda class="MsoNormalIt is very unlikely that MMUST will revive Ebunangwe Campus because of two reasons. First, the campus was closed down by Commission for University Education because it did not meet the set standards and secondly the student's enrolment in most universities in the country, including MMUST, is on the decline.

Therefore, the Ebunangwe community in collaboration with my administration are in the process of exploring the possibility of converting the campus into a technical training institute. We have already approached the ministry of Education with a proposal on the same.

class="MsoNormal3. The Sh1.7 billion Belgium-funded water project in Vihiga County has delayed raising questions of its implementation. What is the progress on the ongoing construction and what could be causing the delay? What is the impact of such delays on the project and the budget thereof? Oscar Wafula, Mbale class="MsoNormalDelay was only at Lunyerere water works at Mbale site due to land acquisition and succession issues.

I am happy to report the issues have been resolved and construction of water works has commenced. As regards the water works in Maseno and Kaimosi which commenced early this year, the completion and commissioning of the same is expected at the end of 2019. When the project is complete and operational, it will serve about 250,000 people in the county.

My administration is indeed grateful to the national government and the government of Belgium for this project which has a major impact in the provision of water to the people of Vihiga. Despite the delays, the project is on course and will not occasion extra budgetary provisions.

class="MsoNormal4. There have been claims of corruption that led to the county assembly to impeach two county executive committee members and two chief officers in Finance and Sports docket for transferring Sh18.8 million public funds into a wallet account to keep it away from the glare of the Treasury and Auditor-General. Could you explain what is the correct position regarding the claims and what you are doing to deal with corruption within your administration? Roy F.

Okwemba, Chavakali class="MsoNormalAs much as I would have loved to respond to your question in detail, the matters are in court and to discuss them here is against the sub judice rule. However, I wish to assure the people of Vihiga that no money was lost and that my administration will not condone or tolerate any form of corruption.

Anybody found abetting corruption will be punished. class="MsoNormal5. Since the advent of devolution, many governors and other county administrators have been named in cases of financial scandals, thereby raising questions about the relevance of devolution to the people's aspirations.

What is your take? How can you and your counterparts in other counties save the situation and make counties what they were intended to be, not cetres of corruption and nepotism? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi class="MsoNormalDespite the reported cases of corruption in all the counties, there are evident fruits of devolution across the board, particularly in infrastructure development, trade and commerce among others. Therefore, the concept of devolution is noble and if implemented as conceived in the Constitution, it can lead to accelerated development, creation of wealth and jobs in all counties.

Currently, the main challenge to devolution is inadequate financial resources (only 15 per cent of the annual revenue earnings) are allocated to the counties. As in other countries where devolution is a great success (e.

. South Africa, Nigeria), over 50 per cent of the national financial resources are devolved.

Our Constitution should be urgently amended to devolve more financial resources to the counties. Regarding the challenges of corruption and nepotism, it is important that the county leadership should put in place ICT based governance systems that are transparent and accountable and that corruption practices should be severely punished while nepotism should be discouraged.

Election of men and women of high integrity and commitment as governors is also necessary. class="MsoNormal6. You were once ranked as the best Member of Parliament when you served in the National Assembly as the member for Emuhaya.

What should Vihiga County residents expect of you now that you are the governor with enhanced resources at your disposal unlike previously when you only had the Constituency development Fund? Joseph Onziro, Maseno class="MsoNormalI wish to assure the people of Vihiga that I am determined and committed to steer our county to accelerate an all inclusive development that will improve their socio-economic welfare. I am already implementing my manifesto as captured in the County Integrated Development plan (CIDP) 2018-2022. My main agenda is focused on primary healthcare, technical and vocational education, aquaculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

To achieve my development agenda, I am aggressively involved in attracting development partners to support my projects and activities since financial resources received from national government are inadequate. In the next one to two years, people will be talking about development successes of Vihiga.

class="MsoNormal7. You were among those who participated in the Climate Change Forum in Paris while at The National Assembly. Sir, as an expert in this field how have you utilised this valuable knowledge to the benefit of the people of Vihiga? Komen Moris, Eldoret class="MsoNormalI am among the pioneer climate change scientists in the world and participated in all climate change conference of parties that culminated in the formulation of Climate Change Act, 2016 in Parliament as well as climate policy.

As a governor, I have coordinated the formulation of Vihiga Climate Change Policy and we are in the process of formulating the County Climate Change Bill. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, Vihiga County has adapted green economy principles in its development agenda.

Thus, we are promoting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include SMART agriculture and environmental conservation etc. class="MsoNormal8. Vihiga United, a football club fully sponsored by the county government of Vihiga has 80 per cent of its players coming outside Vihiga.

Are we really nurturing talents of Vihiga youth? Are we so interested in winning championships at the expense of our youth? Peter Simiyu, Mbale class="MsoNormalIt is not true that currently 80 per cent of our Vihiga United players come from outside Vihiga County. Currently, only 30 per cent come from outside Vihiga.

That said, to nurture soccer talents of Vihiga youth, we have formulated a strategy where the county will be holding annual soccer tournaments from the ward, sub-county and finally to annual county tournaments. Out of these tournaments we shall be able to pick out the best players to join the Vihiga United our strategy being that at any given time majority of the players should come from Vihiga.

Apart from soccer, we are promoting other sports including athletics. class="MsoNormal9. Sir, Vihiga County has been experiencing poor revenue collection that has forced the county to lower its target from Sh220 million in 2017/18 to Sh157 million in 2018/19. What is causing this drop and what is your administration doing to arrest the situation? What revenue streams are you looking at, to plug the deficit? Joy Murile, Kisumu class="MsoNormalThank you for this question.

The current system used in revenue collection is manual and therefore not reliable in terms of efficiency and transparency. Also the earlier financial laws did not capture many revenue streams like land rates, boda boda, mining, car parking etc.

We have now enacted Finance Law 2018 that captures all these revenue streams. We have also embarked on automation of revenue collection.

If we succeed to implement these measures including sensitising our people on the importance of paying tax, I am optimistic that we will collect at least Sh200 million at the end of the financial year. class="MsoNormal10. When will ECDE teachers be recruited on permanent and pensionable terms as you had earlier promised? Brenda Shivachi, Kaimosi class="MsoNormalThe County Public Service Board is still working on modalities to recruit 770 teachers two in every public primary school on a three-year contract based on budgetary allocations.

In case we get enough money in future budgets we shall consider employing them on permanent basis. That notwithstanding, my administration has improved their terms from top up pay' to contracts.

class="MsoNormal11. What measures is your office taking to ensure that the youth are aware of, and are able to access county programmes meant for them, including jobs and tenders? Is there an innovation hub in the county for the youth to develop their ideas? Alfayo Oduor, Maseno class="MsoNormalThe Department of Youth, Gender has completed a Youth Policy which defines modes of interaction with the youth in the said areas. We are also forging a partnership with the UN Habitat on a Youth hub where youth can develop their ideas.

Further we are in the process of expanding the ICT internet infrastructure to our sub-county headquarters. In creating awareness among our youth on available opportunities.

class="MsoNormal12. You announced that the county government was going to send home some 3,000 staff, a development which caused concern and criticism in equal measure as your administration is still carrying out recruitments. How much is the county government saving on wage bill after staff rationalisation? Why would you retrench while at the same time recruiting staff? Perminus Wafula, Luanda class="MsoNormalFirst of all, there were no workers whose terms were permanent and pensionable who were sent home.

Additionally, there have been no retrenchments undertaken by the county government since I took office. What has happened is the expiry of contracts of numerous people which were not renewed.

The county government has been able to save about Sh20 million monthly on wage bill as a result of not renewing the contracts. We have only recruited for the positions of chief officers and other few officers who left the service after election.

class="MsoNormal13. Vihiga has very limited land owing to the high population of the county. Consequently, residents rely on small parcels of land for subsistence farming.

What measures are in place to ensure that agribusiness takes root in the county even with the limited land? Juma Wanderi, Mbale class="MsoNormalWe have made deliberate efforts to promote enterprises which can generate higher returns per unit area and value addition to increase returns for farmers. The county government is promoting zero grazing, fish farming and growing of French beans, local vegetables and avocado.
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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Nov 4, 2018
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