Supporters of Tana River Governor Dhadho Gaddae Godhana recently held a peaceful demonstration in Hola own against the local County Assembly for allegedly undermining the governor.
They marched from the Bayusuf Grounds to the County Assembly’s office to express their displeasure at Members of the County Assembly’s decision to hold a press conference in Mombasa on Saturday in which they accused the governor of poor leadership.
The protesters claimed that the county legislators led by Speaker Michael Justine Nkaduda were on a mission to frustrate the governor’s development agenda by repeatedly delaying in the approval of the county annual budget estimates.
Speaking to Journalists in Hola, the residents led by the youth chairman Idris Ahmed said the MCAs were selfish and that they demanded bribes before approving any proposals made by the County Executive.
“We are aware that the MCAs a frustrated by the governor’s stringent measures in procurement that have made it difficult for them (MCAs) to get government contracts and that is why they are doing everything possible to frustrate him,” Ahmed said.
He claimed that the MCAs had failed to effectively administer the Ward Bursary Fund, forcing the executive to step in through a push up programme to ensure students remain in school.
Each of the 15 wards has been receiving Sh5 million for bursaries, an amount that was this financial year increased to Sh10 million per ward.
Human rights activist Abbas Mohamed also came to the defence of the governor, saying the current county administration inherited many problems that it was busy solving while at the same time attempting to provide services to residents.
“The MCAs are failing to appreciate the fact that the current administration inherited pending bills of about Sh2.1 billion, which it has been struggling to clear and are instead ranting that the governor is not serving the people,” he said.
The demonstrations were prompted by a four-page press statement signed by all the 23 MCAs in which the legislators accused the governor of deliberately delaying in the disbursement of ward bursary funds.
The MCAs faulted claims by the governor that he had increased the Ward Bursary Fund by Sh5 million per ward, saying he did not have the mandate to do so as the law only allows the county government to allocate 2.5 percent of the sharable revenue received from the Exchequer.
They also accused the governor of failing to clear pending bills amounting to Sh1.9 billion despite the county assembly passing a supplementary budget of Sh5.6 billion to allow the county administration to clear the bills.
They claimed that the National Treasury was disbursing millions of shillings out of the Sh7.3 billion budget for the financial year 2018/2019 to the County Revenue Fund, which the county executive had not been able to account for.
The MCAs also castigated the governor for allegedly planning to relocate the County headquarters from Hola to Dayate without following due process.
They accused the county executive of incompetence, saying though the administration had received lots of money; residents were yet to enjoy the fruits of devolution.
The County Administration, through the Governor’s Press Director, Mr. Steve Juma, accused the MCAs of hypocrisy, saying they are the ones who passed the Ward Bursary law that increased the funds from Sh5 million per ward to Sh10 million annually.
On the relocation of the County Headquarters, Mr. Juma said the County Administration had consulted widely, including presenting to the assembly the Hola Municipality Charter, which is still under consideration.
The Controller of Budget, Mrs. Agnes Odhiambo reported that in the first quarter of this financial year, the county government reported nil expenditure and receipts from the Exchequer due to delay in the approval of the county budget estimates.
The County Appropriation Bill was assented to by the governor on September 25, 2017 and was published in early October, making it impossible for the county administration to draw funds from the National Treasury.
Last week, the governor put the MCAs on the spot, alleging that they had failed to administer the Ward Bursary Fund, forcing him to step in through a special fund under the Push Up programme, which the MCAs are terming illegal as it is not backed by any law.
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A section of Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana’s supporters demonstrate outside the County Assembly.