A watchdog wants investigations into the Sh3.6 billion pending bills in Mandera County.
In his address to the County Assembly last month, Governor Mohamed Adan Khalif said he had inherited Sh3.6 billion as pending bills from his predecessor Ali Roba’s administration.
“We are demanding that an independent taskforce be formed to investigate the said pending bills and the findings made public because the amount involved is just too much when very little has been done in Mandera,” Mr Nurdin Dalato, the Secretary General, Mandera People’s Assembly Forum, said.
The Forum that brings together 36 politicians who vied for different seats in Mandera but lost in the August 9 elections is demanding for establishment of a committee or a taskforce to verify the authenticity of the pending bills.
“Investigations have to be done on the projects and services that led to huge pending bills in Mandera,” Mr Dalato said.
According to the Secretary General, other counties have gazetted a verification committee on pending bills and Mandera should join the fray.
“We shall keep the county administration on the working mode so that our people get the much deserved services. The county assembly has since joined the executive, leaving locals without a voice,” he said.
The Mandera County Assembly is dominated by United Democratic Movement (UDM) party members.
The governor was also elected on the UDM ticket and this has left local political pundits warning that the executive will not be oversighted.
“We shall play the oversight and opposition role since our local assembly joined forces with the executive against the voters in Mandera,” Mr Dalato said.
According to Mr Dalato, the Mandera People’s Assembly represents the interest of about 61 percent of locals who voted for Jubilee, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) gubernatorial candidates.
The opposition is also demanding for decentralisation of resources in the county.
“In Mandera, everything is decided at the county headquarters. It is high time functions were devolved to the sub-county levels so that service delivery can be closer to the people,” Mr Dalato said.
He said some of the sub-counties have remained marginalised in the past 10 years of devolution.
“We have sub-counties that have been left behind in matters of devolution. Some do not even have better health facilities and infrastructure,” he said.
Lafey residents have always complained of not enjoying fruits of devolution in Mandera with their only health facility yet to get a facelift.
“All other sub-counties have well improved health facilities but Lafey, Banisa and Mandera North have nothing in the name of proper hospitals. We have to seek medication either in Mandera South (Elwak) or Mandera East,” Mr Hassan Ali, a resident of Rhamu town said.
The People’s Assembly is also pushing for full sponsorship of students in secondary schools in Mandera.
“We want all students in secondary schools supported by the county government as promised by the governor during campaigns. Education is key and we must invest in it as a county to fill the wide gap in our workforce,” Mr Dalato said.
On the ongoing recruitment of senior county government staff, the forum is threatening to sue the county administration over the hiring of the chief officers.
“We have been silent on the process of hiring the county executive members but what is happening for the chief officers’ position shall not be tolerated. We shall move to court as soon as the process is completed,” he said.
According to the Forum membership, it was ‘shocking’ how the county government has come up with 28 positions for chief officers.
“A total of 153 candidates were shortlisted for the 28 positions and the interviews were to be conducted in three days. How can you interview all these applicants in three days? We are aware of the plan but we shall be moving to court over the same,” Mr Dalato said, accusing the county assembly of becoming a ‘conveyor belt.’
Mr Bashow Alas, a resident who had applied for the position of a chief officer, has written to the Mandera County Public Service Board seeking to be informed on how the process was conducted.
“I have written to the board through my lawyer. I just want to know how the positions have been filled because I have information that this was just a formality as some individuals have already secured these positions,” Mr Alas said.