Council of elders demands Sh34m from Nyanza counties

Luo Council of Elders chair Opiyo Otondi. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/Standard)

Four county governments from Nyanza will cough up Sh34 million every year to fund the activities of the Luo Council of Elders if the caucus of senior citizens has its way.

In what is likely to spark controversy especially from public watchdogs, the elders say they need funds to finance their activities, especially peace negotiations along the troubled Kisumu-Nandi and Kisumu-Kericho borders, among other engagements.

The appeal for funds comes at a time when the elders are engaged in talks with their counterparts from the Kalenjin community for peaceful co-existence.

The funding, the elders said, will make the council financially independent so as to avoid political interference which has derailed it from achieving its core mandate.

Council Chairman Mzee Opiyo Otondi said the resolution settled on a proposal that Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay counties, each contributes Sh8 million every financial year towards the activities of the organisation.

boundary disputes

"We have previously been funded by politicians, but we would want to be independent so as to enable us carry out our functions effectively," said Mr Otondi.

He added: "As a vital institution within the community, we want to have our issues well defined. We have had instances of lack of peace caused by boundary disputes with our neighbouring communities and we have to meet with our colleagues from such communities in order to create peace."

Last week, the North Eastern Gare Community Council of Elders resolved to have all serving elected leaders from Mandera County relinquish their positions to allow for the injection of fresh blood into the area leadership.

Otondi yesterday said the move showed the strength of the council of elders, given that the affected politicians have accepted that they are bound by the elders' decision.

The Luo Council of Elders has, however, experienced division with three factions already claiming genuine existence.

And with the country headed for elections next year, Otondi said a number of activities are in the pipeline for the elders and they need a strong economic base.

The council will be expected to reach out to their counterparts from other communities in a bid to help create peace and woo votes for CORD leader Raila Odinga ahead of the 2017 elections.

"We have already engaged all the four counties from Nyanza and they are positive. We are just working on final negotiations which will be capped with a meeting between the elders and all the governors in Homa Bay soon, before they can start remitting the money," said Otondi.

Sources within Kisumu and Migori county governments have confirmed receiving the proposal but said no concrete decision has been made.

The county officials confirmed that the local governments have been supporting the elders' activities.

"During the last year's Luo Cultural Festival held in Kisumu, the county was fully involved and we contributed towards the event. But in this one, I am yet to get any clear communication. However, the relevant department is on the matter and weighing options on the how to handle it," said a Migori county official who sought not to be named.

In Kisumu, an official said such a proposal was yet to be received but would be discussed through relevant departments before making a decision.