BY UHURU KENYATTA
The constitution reminds us that the authority assigned a public officer is a public trust. Public authority is not a personal possession; it is a grant of power, regulated by law, to serve the best interests of Kenyans. Always, it must be exercised in conformity with the constitutional values we chose for ourselves: equity and efficiency, accountability and impartiality.
We must do better when it comes to relations between the two levels of government. The confusion and confrontation we see wastes time and resources better spent elsewhere. We have not achieved the efficient public integration between national and local government that our constitution demands.
That is why I directed the national administration to take up the functions of national government at the county level. County commissioners, as key representatives of my office, will coordinate all national government functions at the county level. The arrangement mirrors the management of the public service at the national level.
That is not to say that I have not ceded control at the centre. I have delegated the functions for efficient, reliable and better service delivery. We have a mandate to serve the public in a way that respects the resources available to us. The move I took yesterday is about filling the service delivery gap.
What we have done is no different from what the county-level governments have been doing. Governors have felt that they needed county administrators in their areas to deliver the services which national government is mandated to provide. Consequently, it would be hypocritical to claim that the national government does not need administrators to ensure that its functions at the grassroots are properly carried out. We are not fighting for control, we are not pre-occupied with control. Neither should others be. We should all be concerned with the priorities as outlined by the constitution.
Earlier this week, some of our foreign partners issued travel advisories. These only cover specific parts of the country, not the whole of it. Nonetheless, they give a misleading picture of our security situation, and they run the risk of inadvertently damaging our security. The misunderstanding and risk could have been avoided if the governments concerned had consulted more closely with us.
The fact of the matter is that the measures we introduced have begun to make a difference.
First, the security operation that we begun over a month ago will continue, as we look to isolate the extremists and those who aid them.
The operation has already removed thousands of illegal immigrants, and severely disrupted the networks of information and money which support radicalisation and violence.
Second, my government has entered a five-year contract with Safaricom to provide communications and surveillance equipment for our disciplined services. In time, the new security system will be in constant communication with the national command centre that has already been set up. There will be a continuous interaction and exchange of data between the command centre and our men and women on the ground.
The agreement with Safaricom also allows us to deploy around 2,000 CCTV cameras in locations around Nairobi and Mombasa – the two towns which have been hardest hit by the terrorists.
As before, we continue to raise the numbers of security personnel. In the last two months, about 7700 new recruits have graduated into the various branches of our national police service. This is in line with the commitment we made earlier. Kenyans can expect to see at least ten thousand new officers a year for the next four years.
Let me also pause to rebut an unfortunate report that has recently appeared in the news. It was argued, in some of the dailies, that the Anti-Terorrist Police Unit had received only 28 million shillings in this year’s budget. This is a deep misunderstanding of the nature of security funding. First, the 28 million shillings covers the office operations of the unit. Second, the overall security budget provides for equipment and information that are shared across services, for the sake of economy. For example, our surveillance aircraft are available to the ATPU, as well as to other security services.
The report badly misidentifies the resources available to the ATPU; the mistake could have been avoided by simply consulting the relevant authorities for explanation.
(This statement was issued on May 16, 2014 at State House Nairobi.)