The graft-scarred Nairobi County government Tuesday became the first devolved unit to cede some of its functions to the national government, putting devolution to test.
With some of the services of the county government having grounded to a halt, State House announced that the national government was taking over four cash-rich functions from City Hall, including the health and transport sectors.
In the agreement signed between Governor Mike Sonko and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi, the national government will also take over public works, utilities and ancillary as well as the county government planning and development.
“This will ensure Nairobi residents receive services efficiently,” State House spokesperson Kanze Dena said in a statement.
The move now leaves the county administration with low-profile roles such as control of air pollution, cultural activities, animal control, primary education, trade, firefighting and agriculture.
The officials cited Article 187 of the Constitution, which allows the transfer of powers and functions – alongside supporting resources – between the two levels of government.
The law allows such a move where the function “would be more effectively performed by the receiving government” but maintains responsibility for the performance rests on the shoulders of the county.
Under the revenue sharing formula, each county function has a price tag, meaning the most of the cash allocated to Nairobi County will henceforth be controlled by the national government.
“The County Government of Nairobi is as good as dissolved,” tweeted Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr upon hearing the news of the partial takeover.
Mr Sonko, who was suspended from office over a Sh357 million graft case, has had his tenure tainted by infighting at cabinet levels, which culminated in the January 12, 2018 exit of his deputy Polycarp Igathe.
He has frequently reshuffled the county’s top management with executives being sent on suspension multiple times.
The county government has 10 county executive committee members holding the agriculture, lands, finance and economic planning, devolution, education, transport, environment, ICT and e-government and Health dockets.
The city county boss was in December charged together with senior officials in his administration and was released after posting cash bail of Sh15 million.
He denied among other charges, embezzling funds from the county government through dubious contracts.
The money was allegedly wired back to Mr Sonko’s personal accounts and deposited in various parts of the country, on different dates.
Mr Sonko was also barred from accessing his office and contacting any of the prosecution witnesses.