Vetting committee seeks clarification on rapid accumulation of wealth by county officials
A county assembly committee tasked to vet nominees for executive committee members in Turkana County, on Monday morning sought an explanation on the perception that employees acquire wealth very fast when they join the county government.
County assembly vice chairman of the appointment committee Bethwell Kobongin sought a comment from executive committee member nominee for Agriculture, Pastoral Economy and Fisheries Christopher Aletia who appeared before the committee on the last day of the vetting exercise in Lodwar.
Kobongin:”What is your take on the perception that county executive committee members, chief officers and other senior county government employees acquire wealth very fast when they join the county government?”
Aletia: “I can say the perception is true and not true. Most of employees are coming back to the county after having worked in other countries and in other organizations and they therefore have savings which they invest in the county. The mushrooming buildings may be mistaken for fast accumulation of wealth but devolution is responsible for this growth,” said Aletia.
Since 2013 there has been a fast growth of the towns in the county characterized by new high rise buildings some of which are associated with county government employees.
Asked whether he had had any conflict of interest in the new position he was being vetted for, Aletia responded in the negative adding that he would handle any conflict of interest in future as required by law.
The committee also sought to know why many county officials were embarking on trips to Israel for learning and whether they were fruitful.
Aletia who has attended courses on water resource management and desert irrigation in Israel said the ministry of agriculture had sent 10 experts to learn from Israel and termed the trainings as successful.
However he said he could not establish whether they were useful to other officers in other ministries who had toured Israel.
Further, Aletia said the courses offered in Israel were subsidised adding the council of governors and the Turkana county government had entered into an agreement with Israel for training services.
The committee also wanted to know why the ministry was among the worst performers in the county and what measure the CEC would put in place to address the situation.
Aletia attributed the poor performance to low funding and understaffing of the ministry. He added that his ministry receivesthe second lowest budgetary allocation and is yet to fill six of the seven vacant positions for directors.
“Governor JosphatNanok had promised to prioritize food security and provision if water to pastoralists, this will improve the performance of the ministry,” he added.
The ministry also plans to give incentives to youths who are migrating to urban areas thereby abandoning livestock keeping to the elderly.
Cartels were also blamed for the theft and reckless slaughter of donkeys in the county.
The CEC nominee also cited gaps in the legal and policy frameworks as some of the challenges facing the agriculture, pastoral economy and fisheries sector.
Prior to his appointment to the position, Aletia was serving as the deputy county secretary. He also served as a CEC for water, Agriculture and irrigation and also acted as a CEC for fisheries and pastoral economy in Nanok first government.
Aletia holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Agriculture (Crop and Livestock production), and two masters degrees in development studies and governance and political transformations from University of Free State in South Africa.He is currently pursuing a PHD in climate change adaptation at the University of Nairobi.
By Peter Gitonga