James Muraguri, the Executive Director of Global Empowerment Initiative (GEI), a non-governmental grass root-based organization spearheading sustainable initiatives for communities in Kenya has urged residents of Makueni County to form citizen assemblies for deliberating issues of governance.
Muraguri said one of the basic tenets of devolution is public participation and underscored the need for the residents to use the citizen assemblies to ventilate some of the key issues affecting the county like the budget making process.
The executive director said, the Constitution gives sovereign power to the citizens and encouraged the residents to seize the opportunity and demand for people-centered governance.
“As the residents of Makueni you should own the process of devolution, sit together and look for local solutions that can address the problems facing the county,” he said.
He called on residents to pay keen interest on the allocation of resources and identify key areas in the county that need to be prioritized.
“Residents should be able to know what formula is used to allocate funds across the county and monitor closely so that some areas are not favored at the expense of others,” said Muraguri.
The executive director made these remarks early this week in Wote during a participatory budget-making forum held at Broomtree hotel.
Speaking in the same event,FAHAMU Program Officer Eliza Meriabe emphasized Muraguri’s sentiments and appealed to the residents not to abscond their duty of public participation.
Eliza lauded the residents for petitioning the President to dissolve the county owing to incessant wrangling between Governor Kivutha Kibwana and MCAs, saying that the move was an indication that the residents were familiar with matters of devolution.
“Makueni has set the precedence and I urge the residents to remain united so that they can amplify their voices for proper governance,” she said.
Phyllis Nduva a participant, extolled the forum and called on the county government to put in place structures to empower both women and the youth.
Phyllis said the youth form a very integral part in the society and urged them to be proactive on matters of governance.
“We need a vibrant generation of young people who can help steer this county into greater heights,” she said.
A citizens’ assembly commonly known as ‘Bunge la Mwananchi’ in Kenya is a body formed by local citizens to deliberate on issues of national importance especially those related with governance. Now that the county governments are taking shape such assemblies can come in handy is assisting residents to highlight and deliberate issues affecting them and in turn demand for visionary leadership.