By Antony Oyugi
The current debate on revenue sharing and the Senate proceedings in the last week on the matter indicate a very scary pattern. Over the past five years, we have used a formula based on population and geographical size to allocate revenue to the counties. Though the formula has worked well with some degree of equity, the Constitution provides for a change in the formula and that’s where we are.
Many suggestions have been made on a new formula which would factor in various parameters including poverty index and per capita income per county. Another suggestion has been that we give more credence to population per county at the expense of other parameters. The proponents of this argument claim that revenue allocation should be on a ‘One Man One Vote One Shilling’ base. This means that the more you are in a county the more you get.
As things stand in the Senate, the ‘One Man One Vote One Shilling’ army seems to be carrying the day. The main reason behind their ‘win’ is the tyranny of numbers they enjoy in the Senate. If they win (God forbid) we will be placed in a situation whereby the more developed countries will be added more while the least developed counties will be robbed of the little they have. This basically means that there will be further marginalization of the already marginalized.
Pastoralist communities have historically been marginalized. There has, since independence, been a deliberate scheme to keep it this way, to make them loyal to the system. The coming of devolution was, therefore, a sigh of relief for these communities. With devolution, counties like Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera, Narok, and Kajiado have been able to enjoy better infrastructure, healthcare, access to water etc. They have enjoyed this for the last five years. Where do you want to place them when you deny them the opportunity to continue improving their lives?
The ‘One Man One Vote One Shilling’ proponents have come up with new parameters like health infrastructure and agricultural development. The argument is that a county like Kiambu needs more health facilities because it serves more people than Kajiado for instance. This may be true but then we must ask ourselves about mortality rates, access, awareness etc. It is easier for someone to die of malaria in Kajiado than in Kiambu.
The agricultural development argument is that there are counties which are considered bread baskets and should receive more. By bread baskets, they are looking at crop husbandry having left out pastoralism which provides the same people with meat. If you allocate less to the pastoralists in Kajiado how do you expect his meat to get to the table of a man in Nairobi?
In a country where we cook census figures and rig elections, the ‘One Man One Vote One Shilling’ argument is nonsense. It is an insult to the pastoralists community.