Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga introducing specific leaders to speak last and all of them spoke on the importance of the process.
Devolution, agriculture and 2022 succession politics featured heavily in the Meru Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rally yesterday, as leaders insisted that a referendum on certain key issues, was inevitable.
The highly anticipated meeting saw nearly all speakers push for a new revenue allocation strategy that would see counties adopt a sharing formula based on population.
A possible power line-up also emerged, with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga introducing specific leaders, all of whom spoke on importance of the process.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth were all introduced by Raila, contrary to other previous BBI functions that saw the ODM leader invited to speak last.
From Raila’s closing remarks, it was clear that BBI supporters believe the process will inevitably culminate in a referendum to amend the Constitution.
“The train has left the station,” Raila said, before adding that its next stop will be Nakuru.
Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, also chairman of the Central Kenya Region Economic Bloc, read the region’s resolutions.
Key in his presentation was consensus that the region supported expansion of the Executive to create the posts of prime minister and two deputies.
The region also wants protection of all Kenyans working or living in any part of the country, the creation of a Ward Development Fund and the increase of allocations to the counties from 15 per cent of national revenue to a minimum of 45 per cent.
The leaders also asked the country to consider a guaranteed minimum return scheme for tea, coffee, rice and dairy sub-sectors and reserving five per cent of all public appointments to persons with disabilities.
No political vacuum
The Mt Kenya leadership resolutions also reaffirmed full support to a peaceful and prosperous nation and declared there was no political vacuum in the area as President Uhuru Kenyatta remained the region’s kingpin.
“We fully agree with the BBI on the political direction that this country should take and are only waiting for the referendum,” said Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.
Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki told the meeting that with unity and the right numbers, the region just needed to ensure every eligible voter took part in the plebiscite.
Kiambu Governor James Nyoro said the “one person, one vote, one shilling” call was dear to the region, citing his county as one that had suffered greatly under the current revenue sharing formula in which it got less allocations than several other counties, despite having the second highest population nationally after Nairobi.
“A fair distribution of constituencies would give us at least 18 constituencies from our present 12,” said Nyoro.
He was supported by Laikipia’s Ndiritu Muriithi who said under the current set up, the Mt Kenya region was disadvantaged because the parliamentary vote of an MP representing 300,000 voters had the same strength with that of an MP representing only 20,000 voters.
Senator Gideon urged the Mt Kenya leadership to heed the political direction showed by President Kenyatta.
“I can tell you for sure that Uhuru/Raila partnership is a sure bet and that you should listen keenly and follow their prescription,” he said.
Former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, who also got a chance to speak at the tail end courtesy of Raila, told the meeting that with over 30 per cent of the population of the country as confirmed by the census results, Mt Kenya must be on the negotiating table for the future government.
There was still room for controversy as Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen told the rally that for BBI to work, all leaders must recognise that Uhuru and Ruto were validly elected into office.
He said the duo was not sneaked in through the backdoor and demanded that politicians demanding respect for the presidency should also respect the deputy president’s office.
“If you demand that people respect the president, let us also recognise that he was elected alongside Ruto and also accord the deputy due respect,” Murkomen said.
He was the only pro-Ruto legislator who spoke at the rally and that came after he stood for more than an hour because he could not find a seat.
Also suffering same humiliation was Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria who stood throughout the time he was at the rally and only left after Murkomen spoke. Murkomen said Kenyans have for long been under the hostage of political fraud.
In a rebuttal, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said BBI supporters did not need anyone to lecture them on what political fraud is.
“Kenyans know for sure in which office in the land leadership fraud is being perpetuated from,” Atwoli said.
He said Kenyans should expect a post-BBI political dispensation that accommodates President Kenyatta in a future government.
“No constitutional provision is likely to prevent him from seeking any other seat when we implement the constitutional reforms recommended by the BBI,” Atwoli said.
Former Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe, who was among the few invited by Raila to make remarks, said he wanted to make it clear that Uhuru was not about to leave power to anybody with a tainted past. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya urged leaders to stop taking the moral high ground when they were in the middle of scandals that had stalled multi-billion shilling projects and others that prevented Kenyans from benefiting from completed roads.
Mt Kenya governors all of whom attended the meeting sent pointers that the country is headed to a referendum.
Governors from outside the Mt Kenya region included Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Moses Lenokulal (Samburu), Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit), Ali Korane (Garissa) James Ongwae (Kisii), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Okoth Obado (Migori).