Deputy President William Ruto has opposed Raila Odinga’s call for review of devolution structure to create a three-tier government.
Mr Odinga had argued that the three-tier system will cure the problem of counties’ inability to finance own programmes and address inefficiencies.
He suggested that the 47 devolved units could be grouped into 14 regions and vouched for the idea of regional blocs.
Most of the 47 counties, he said, are uneconomical entities and proposed the establishment of a three-level government.
“The Bomas Draft Constitution divided Kenya into 14 regions, each made up of several districts. The intention was to create units with the size and population that made them economically viable,” Mr Odinga said when he delivered the keynote address to the fifth Annual Devolution Conference at Kakamega School.
He added: “There is need for the country to adopt a three-tier system that retains the current counties, creates regional governments and retains the National Government, to create units with the size and population that are economically viable.”
But Mr Ruto, speaking at the devolution conference in Kakamega, on Thursday argued the motive behind Mr Odinga’s plan was to give power to certain people at the top as opposed to supporting counties.
He accused the ODM leader of engaging in idle talk and excelling in blaming others for his political failures.
“If there is going to be a suggestion on arranging or rearranging of devolution, it cannot be creating another layer of government. It will be taking counties to the walls,” he said.
“It cannot be devolution upwards. It should be devolution downwards. That is where devolution needs to go and that is a discussion that we can have and we don’t have to change the Constitution to achieve that.”
Mr Ruto then threw a jab at Mr Odinga, accusing him of finding excuses whenever certain systems do not favour him.
“The challenge we have in this country is what the Chinese said that a bad workman quarrels with his tools,” he said.
“If someone is a bad workman, he will try to blame…it is the Constitution which is the problem or it is devolution which is the problem… county assembly or this or that,” he added.
“Because he is a bad workman…he wants to quarrel with his tools and get excuses for his failure.”
He described Mr Odinga’s proposal as “idle” and one which was aimed at only creating another level of bureaucracy in the delivery of service in the devolved units
The DP hinted that he is not opposed to the ongoing discourse concerning the expansion of the structure of the executive, but warned that it could be done without reference to referendum, which he warned could be costly to the taxpayer.
Mr Ruto, who spoke as he closed the fifth devolution conference in Kakamega, appeared set to neutralise Mr Odinga’s message on Wednesday when he gave a keynote speech.
First, he defended the national government against claims it stifles devolution by delaying disbursement of funds.
Mr Ruto told the conference that the National Treasury releases money only when it has it.
“We are a government that lives within our means. It is not the intention of the national to hold on money much longer than is necessary. These are resources that we collect from the tax payers. We release all the money within the financial year, even though there are delays. That shows we are committed…”