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Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru get more lawmakers in BBI plan

By Allan Mungai | November 3rd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) with Baringo senator Gideon Moi (right) and Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip during the BBI Consultative meeting at Great Rift Lodge in Naivasha on November 2, 2020.[Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The number of MPs representing Nairobi at the National Assembly will almost double if proposals contained in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report are implemented.

Pro-BBI senators and members of the National Assembly yesterday approved a formula to allocate 70 additional seats that are proposed by the BBI document.

In the formula, which was agreed on the basis of a population quota of 132,138 people per MP, Nairobi County will get an additional 16 MPs, raising the city’s representation at the National Assembly to 33. That means that close to 10 per cent of the legislators in the expanded National Assembly that BBI proposes will be representing the city.

Nairobi is currently represented by 17 MPs, excluding the Woman Representative.

The BBI document was released on October 26 at Bomas of Kenya. It proposes, among others, the expansion of the National Assembly from the current 290 members to 360 elected from single and multiple-member constituencies.

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The 70 MPs will come from constituencies with large populations and will be the solution for meeting the gender quota and the representation of youth and people with disabilities. After a meeting held for two days starting Sunday in Naivasha, and attended yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, MPs who support the law change initiative announced the new plan that will see counties whose ratio of population to elected leaders exceeds 132,138 people per MP receive additional representatives.

The counties that will get more representatives are Nairobi (16), Kiambu (6), Nakuru (5), Kilifi (4), Mombasa (3), Machakos (3), Narok (3), Kajiado (3), Bungoma (3), Kwale (2), Meru (2), Trans Nzoia (2), and Uasin Gishu (2). Others are Kakamega (2), Kisumu (2), while Mandera, Embu, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Turkana, Laikipia, Kericho, Bomet, Siaya, Homa Bay and Nyamira will get a single addition each.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries will be the Rift Valley region with 19 new seats, Mt Kenya region, which gets 12 new MPs, and Coast (9). Western and Nyanza are added five seats and lower Eastern  four. Aside from Mandera, no other county in North Eastern region will get new representation.

Nairobi (33), Kiambu (18) and Nakuru (16) are going to be the counties with the highest number of representatives in Parliament.

“This is great news for Kenyans who have long suffered from under-representation and a number of whom had made submissions to the BBI steering committee on the need for additional representation,” a statement released after the meeting said.

Using the new formula, the county with the lowest ratio of population to a representative will be Lamu with 71,960 people while the highest will be West Pokot where each MP will be serving 155,310 people.

The BBI proposes an amendment to Chapter Seven of the Constitution to provide for the members of the National Assembly to be drawn from both single-member and multiple-member constituencies. 

The introduction of multiple-member constituencies will replace the current nomination system. The task force argued that it was best that every member in the National Assembly is attached to a specific region.

Implementing multi-member constituencies, the document said, allows the country to retain constituencies which they are attached to, and a direct link to their representatives.

“It is noteworthy that elected officials with a geographic base retain greater influence than their nominated counterparts,” the document stated. 

Constituencies that have larger populations than the set quota will be served by more than one MP with the new representatives chosen from women and people living with disabilities.

On sidelines

In an interview on the sidelines of the meeting in Naivasha that ratified that formula, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina said one of the crucial issues that BBI addressed was providing social justice through equal representation.

The formula is, however, being criticised for discrepancies.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was part of a group of MPs who were not invited for the meeting, faulted it.

“So the reason why Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties MPs were not invited to Naivasha was to defraud them by taking away one constituency from each of the counties? TERRIBLE,” he tweeted.

Economist Wehliye Mohamed pointed out the irregularities in the application of the formula, noting that some counties had higher populations yet fewer MPs than others.

National Assembly BBI President Uhuru Kenyatta
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