Amason Kingi's maiden speech in Senate as he assumes Speaker role

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

I am profoundly humbled and overwhelmed by the great honour and privilege you have bestowed upon me by electing me as your Speaker, of the Fourth Senate and the Thirteenth Parliament of the Republic of Kenya. I am deeply humbled and touched by the immense confidence and trust that you have placed on me. I, therefore, accept with humility and pledge that I shall perform to my utmost ability, the constitutional responsibilities and duties of the office of Speaker of the Senate for the next five (5) years, with due diligence and decorum.

Distinguished Senators,

Allow me with great pleasure, to congratulate and salute all of you - the new Senators of the Fourth Senate, for emerging triumphant in the just-concluded general elections after a bruising political contest. Your election to the high office of Senator of your various counties and constituencies is a demonstration of the faith and confidence that the electorate have in your capabilities to serve, transform and improve their welfare and well-being. Today, you are invited to grapple with the challenges and work towards meeting the high expectations of the Kenyan people.

Honourable Senators,

I also wish to recognize my worthy opponents Mr. Isaac Aluoch Polo Aluochier, Ms. Beatrice Kathomi Kinyua, Mr. George Bush, Mr. Fredrick Muchiri Karuri, and, Mr. George Njoroge Kuria, for the valiant, mature and well-fought competition. We have ably demonstrated that we can compete democratically and without rancour in a dignified race. Hongera kwenu.

I also extend congratulations to our newly elected colleagues in our sister House - the National Assembly - and wish them every success as we begin to execute national duties of jointly steering our beloved country to greater heights.

In embracing the spirit of devolution, I am delighted by the rich blend of membership of the Fourth Senate drawn from former Members of the National Assembly, Governors and Members of County Assemblies (MCAs). I note that nine (9) former members of the National Assembly and four Members of County Assemblies have joined the Senate while some have returned after a hiatus. They bring with them invaluable experience that will enrich the House. We are also fortunate to have a diverse blend of professionals joining the Senate including top legal minds no-less-than a Senior Counsel, scholars, doctors, renowned members of the civil society among others.

Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Senators from the Third Senate who did not return including the eight (8) members of the Third Senate who were elected as Governors. I am confident that they will continue to serve Kenyans in different capacities.

Kenyans from all walks of life deserve a pat on the back for demonstrating to the entire world that we have a mature and vibrant democracy following the peaceful general elections held on 9th August, 2022 and the subsequent petition filed and concluded at the Supreme Court.

Distinguished Senators,

Permit me at this juncture, to pay my singular special tribute to my immediate predecessor, the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Makelo Lusaka, EGH, MP who was recently elected as the Governor of Bungoma County. He ably presided over the Third Senate in perhaps one of the most challenging periods in our country's history.

Historically, the first Senate was established in 1963 and functioned until 1966 when it was dissolved and merged with the House of Representatives to form the National Assembly. The First Senate under the 2010 constitution was inaugurated on 28th March 2013 primarily to oversee the implementation of the devolved system of governance.

It is worth mentioning that at the onset of devolution, Senate was sailing in uncharted waters. None of the political leadership and pioneer Senators had a clear idea what their tasks entailed. As Speaker Lusaka noted on 31st August, 2017, they had to "learn how to swim by swimming". It was largely trial and error at first.

The Senate of the 12th Parliament to a great measure, played an instrumental role in improving the legislative regime, work systems and coherence of key processes that have gradually bolstered devolution implementation.

My predecessors and their leadership teams, guided by unity of purpose and the will to actualise devolution, initiated work systems, spearheaded a series of retreats, workshops and seminars that rapidly crafted the framework of transacting and administering Senates in the 11th and 12th Parliaments.

As the renowned American writer and political commentator Walter Lipmann wrote, and I quote - "the final test of a Leader is that he leaves behind in other men (and women) the conviction and the will to carry on." We salute both the Rt. Hon. Ekwee Ethuro and Rt. Hon. Kenneth Lusaka and their leadership teams for their remarkable contributions. The Fourth Senate must now build on the decade of institutional maturity.

Permit me to also appreciate and laud the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Jeremiah Nyegenye and his team for their unwavering and steadfast support and for making the appropriate preparations for this momentous occasion.

Honourable Senators,

Devolution as a novel developmental model was meant to ensure balanced, equitable and just development in all the regions of Kenya. I can submit without fear of contradiction that, so far it is working.

I welcome and associate myself with the positive spirit exhibited and pronouncements made by the newly elected Governors to change their strategy of engagement and work more closely with the Senate, the National Assembly and the National Government.

In addition, the pledge and commitment currently being witnessed to intensify the fight against corruption in their respective governments is highly commendable. Kenyans are looking forward to a new dawn and expect Senators to aggressively defend devolution and county governments better. We must ensure devolution works for the people and more accountability is exercised.

Distinguished Senators,

The critical question is; what next for our Fourth Senate? How do we build on the achievements of the first, second and Third Senates?

Fundamentally, the Senate must continue to play its constitutional mandate and role more vigorously. Just to reiterate and remind ourselves Hon. Senators, the primary mandate of the Senate is to represent the counties and their governments, and protect the interests of the counties and hence successful implementation of devolution process.

The Senate is involved in law-making by considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties, determines the allocation of revenue among counties; exercises oversight over the national revenue allocated to the counties and participates in the oversight of State officers by considering and determining any resolution to remove the President and Deputy President.

Distinguished Senators,

The Senate is the bastion of devolution. Devolution has been a game changer and has significantly transformed our country. The county governments are currently receiving billions of shillings courtesy of the Senate's intervention, to finance various development programmes and provide essential services that are aimed at improving the well-being and welfare of the Kenyan people.

Massive infrastructural projects have been built throughout the country, including roads, educational and health facilities as well as housing projects. In addition, local entrepreneurs, youth and women have greatly benefitted in terms of securing business and employment opportunities.

Distinguished Senators,

Since 2013, without doubt, devolution has dramatically altered the political and socio-economic fabric of Kenya.

Kenyans are currently reeling and undergoing tough economic times. The Senate is duty-bound to be more sensitive to the dictates and aspirations of the ordinary Mwananchi.

Going forward, with the rich blend of its membership, it is incumbent upon the Fourth Senate to play its due constitutional role and ensure that National and county governments deliver on their mandate to improve or lighten the burden of the people. We, hence, cannot rest on our laurels; we must build on the foundation already created, achievements made and strive to make devolution work more effectively and better. We must initiate and enact more devolution-compliant legislation and Bills since our predecessors have identified a number of grey areas in our devolved system of governance.

We will adopt a pro-active approach in our pursuit to make Senate an effective governance institution to Kenyans and let Senate be their sanctuary in times of distress. I urge and encourage Kenyans to make the Senate their beacon of sobriety and hope.

The Fourth Senate will strive to reach out and harmoniously work with the National Assembly. Hitherto, supremacy wars witnessed in the past between our two Houses have tended to ferment unnecessary acrimony and grandstanding which adversely impacted on legislative outputs.

I call upon and encourage Hon. Senators to address emerging contentious legislative challenges and resolve them within stipulated mediation frameworks while adopting collegiate approaches noting that these processes are intended to serve the best interest of the people. That is how tangible and progressive milestones will be realized by our bicameral Parliament.

Distinguished Senators,

I also wish to urge Honourable Senators to adopt and nurture bi-partisan and collegiate leadership approaches that will transform and invigorate the Senate to embrace the various political shades and interests represented in the Thirteenth Parliament and ensure they find their rightful space.

Under the new Senate leadership, we will endeavour to ensure that-

  • The Senate work strategy will be reviewed as appropriate to enable Senators perform their constitutional and leadership responsibilities through systems that are predictable and adequately facilitated to enable them deliver efficiently and quality services;
  • Dynamic and innovative programmes and activities of the Senate guided by the need to respond to key priorities of the counties shall be initiated to respond to identified challenges;
  • The Senate will continually bolster and strengthen internal collaborative linkages, deepen existing partnerships and engagement between the Senate, national and county government departments and agencies; regional and international development partners as well as non-state actors to work closely and harmoniously with the devolution family;
  • Learning and leadership are indispensible to each other.

We will ensure continuous capacity development and empowerment of Senators and their secretariats so that they constantly update their skills and expertise; and ensure they acquire requisite parliamentary exposure to enable them handle complex and new frontiers of legislative and public affairs.

  • The Senate will endeavour to be responsive to emergent situations and re-ignite the manner in which 'traditional' legislative services and relations with various stakeholders and counties are offered.

Honourable Senators,

Elections come and go. We have concluded the electoral phase and must now proceed to the critical transitional and development phases after the delicate ballet dance of politics. We have to overcome and begin to heal from challenges borne out of divisive political alignments. I urge and call upon our people to refocus, embrace unity and move forward.

No Kenyan should feel left out. It is now time to put behind us political rivalries, roll our sleeves and together focus on building the New Kenya that we all desire.

Distinguished Senators,

Kenyans expect from us nothing short of servant, responsive and effective leadership. Let us aspire to be forthright in the performance of our legislative functions especially in undertaking oversight roles, so that the citizenry can build trust, find refuge and solace in the Senate of the Republic of Kenya. We should neither entertain nor accept any discourse that would divide or polarize Kenyans.

Honourable Senators,

As I conclude, I wish to undertake that, under my stewardship, my commitment to you Hon. Senators and the people we represent, is to be a faithful and impartial servant; ready to discharge my diverse roles and responsibilities with due diligence and in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya and the Senate Standing Orders.

Finally, to quote the former United States President, John F. Kennedy,

"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country". We all have a collective, solemn and patriotic duty and responsibility to rally fellow leaders and Kenyans to put the interests of our country first and move it to the next level of development and prosperity.

On my part, I shall respect and uphold the rule of law, legality and nurture the culture of constitutionalism; and I shall protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya and always safeguard the mandate and role of the Senate.

Hon. Senators, I welcome you all to join me as we embark on this journey together.

Thank You All

God Bless the Senate

God Bless Kenya.