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Maraga cautions governors against graft

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Retired Chief Justice (CJ) David Maraga yesterday challenged governors to lead the fight against corruption in the counties.

In his first public address since his retirement this week, Maraga challenged the county chiefs to prioritise the anti-corruption crusade and ensure proper utilisation of the resources placed in their hands.

While there have been excellent examples of progress in some counties, the former CJ said it is also true and unfortunate that there have been reports of misuse of funds availed to counties.

“Reports of pilferage and theft of public resources meant to provide services and development are most disheartening.

The funds that are availed for service provision are meant to improve the lives and livelihoods of those that you govern,” said Maraga, during a luncheon hosted in his honour by the Council of Governors (CoG) at a Nairobi hotel.

“We have a direct responsibility as leaders to ensure that these resources are put to good use.

I implore you to remain faithful to your oath of office and to always put the interests of the people you lead first,” he added.

He told the governors that some of them are in the second and final terms of leadership of their counties and must take stock of what they have achieved, with reports indicating that an average of Sh8 billion is allocated to each county annually.

Greatest concern

“There is of course the issue of how much is actually released to you and in time. But at the end of the day what will your score-card look like?

What will your people say you did for them from the resources placed in your hands? Let this be your greatest concern,” Maraga said.

He however thanked the governors for the cooperation and support they extended to him during his tenure as CJ and urged them to continue with even greater cooperation for better service delivery to Kenyans.

“I thank you most sincerely for the luncheon which gives me the opportunity tosay kwaheri (goodbye). God bless you all. God bless Kenya,” said Maraga.

Maraga urged governors to ensure that the issue of corruption is constantly kept in the mind, as it has regrettably seen massive loss of public coffers.

“Sad, and I would say embarrassing as it is, it is an acknowledged fact that the country loses one third of the national budget to corruption.

The looting of public resources is alarming. To be fair, I should add that all of us Kenyans are to blame for this,” said Maraga.

At least 10 governors, led by their chairman, Wycliffe Oparanya were present at the luncheon also attended by Maraga’s wife (Yucabeth), Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa among other guests.

“Right from the village kiosks, all of us keep cutting corners to steal from each other.

As a result, after paying salaries and defraying other aspects of recurrent expenditure, there is little left for development.

What that boils down to is the stagnation of the growth of the national economy. What does this portend?” asked Maraga.

Rich legacy

Maraga quoted his previous opinion, contained in an Advisory Opinion of May last year where he warned that decisive action must be take to address historical injustices.

“Unless decisive action is taken to address historical injustices engendered by skewed development, unless decisive action is taken to address income and resource allocation inequalities in this country, unless decisive action is taken to address soaring unemployment, unless decisive action is taken to address looting of public resources through corruption, only the naïve will fail to see, that we are sitting on a powder keg, the detonation of which will render the 2007/08 post-election skirmishes child play,” the former CJ warned.

But even as he made his remarks on the damage caused by corruption, Maraga also outlined the journey of implementing devolution, which brings services closer to the people.

As is clear from Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) final report, he said there was universal endorsement of devolution during the review process.

While Kenyans held differing views on what devolution structure the country should adopt, they were united in moving away from a centralised system of government.

“As the CKRC team noted, Kenyans wanted to participate in governance and management of their affairs and to hold leaders to account.

They also wanted an improvement in the provision of services and to have powers and resources decentralised from the capital,” he explained.

The DCJ lauded Maraga for giving guidance since he was appointed in 2016.

“As we celebrate his contribution to public service, his commitment to his oath of office, to promoting and protecting the independence of the Judiciary, and his fidelity to the Constitution may these also serve as an example to us all,” said Mwilu.

On his part, Oparanya said Maraga has left behind a rich legacy and will be remembered for many years to come.

“We celebrate you for the outstanding contribution to the Judiciary during your tenure.

Your legacy to uphold the rule of law and protection of devolution is greatest memory for the devolution family,” said Oparanya.

He added: “Some people may say men may come and go but the institution and the office of the CJ will go on.

The truth is some men come and may never go, they continue to live forever in the legacy they have left behind.”

In summary

    • Maraga challenged governors to lead the fight against corruption.
    • He warned that decisive action must be take to address historical injustices.
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