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West Pokot and Trans Nzoia assemblies approve BBI Bill

By Irissheel Shanzu | Feb 17th 2021 | 4 min read
Kabarnet residents waving placards after they accompanied lawyer Gordon Ogola and Baringo county assembly members to the Kabarnet Law courts on February 15, 2021, where he filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of proceedings of February 11 at the County Assembly that led to the rejection of the Building Bridges Initiative Bill. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

West Pokot County Assembly yesterday passed the the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill, making it the first in the Rift Valley to vote in support of the proposal.

Hours later, Trans Nzoia followed suit, becoming the sixth to endorse the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Busia county assemblies had already passed the Bill. Nairobi and Nakuru are among counties that have tabled the Bill, pending debate.

In West Pokot, where Kanu has 15 MCAs in the County Assembly, 28 MCAs who attend the morning sitting voted for the Bill. Five MCAs did not attend the session. 

Majority vote

Governor John Lonyangapuo set aside long-standing differences with County Assembly Speaker Catherine Mukenyang to rally MCAs to deliver majority vote.

In a debate that took two hours, the MCAs voted to adopt the BBI Bill, saying the county will benefit from 35 per cent revenue allocation.

The Bill was tabled by Leader of Majority Thomas Ngolesia and seconded by Leader of Minority Peter Lokor.

During the session, members who spoke praised the Bill, saying it favoured marginalised counties and will improve the livelihood of communities in such counties across the country.

The MCAs said the views they received during the public participation showed local residents were ready to benefit from the fruits of BBI after years of marginalisation.

Siyoi MCA Renson Longit noted that during public participation, 31 per cent of local residents supported the BBI report while 38 per cent expressed reservations over the amendments but urged the assembly to support the Bill.

“It appears the public have varied information as regards  the process of the constitutional amendment, but I support the BBI Bill for them to have their say at the referendum,” he said.

Mukenyang appreciated the way MCAs conducted the BBI debate in a civil and respectful manner.

“Most of the members were willing to contribute despite the limited time. My duty is to sign the certificate of acceptance of the report.

“Not a single MCA was intimidated to support the Bill. They decided to put aside politics and debate on the Bill soberly,” Mukenyang said.

She urged other county assemblies that are yet to pass the amendment Bill to allow room for public participation.

A move by a section of Baringo MCAs to reject the Bill last week has now been challenged in High Court for lacking public participation.

Prof Lonyangapuo congratulated MCAs for adopting the Bill, noting that the county will benefit immensely if it is passed in the national referendum.

“We have seen the benefits of BBI, an additional constituency is a big win for us. The 35 per cent revenue allocation to counties is also a major boost,” he said.

He noted that he had to attend the session as a witness.

Pokot South legislator David Pkosing, who also attended the session, noted that West Pokot County has high population and the increase in allocation will improve service provision.

He added that once the Bill sails through the assemblies and is passed to Parliament for approval, he will vote in support and urged his colleagues to differentiate between BBI and politics.

Senate Majority Leader Samuel Phoghisio thanked the MCAs for passing the Bill.

“I wish to thank the MCAs and the speaker for their patriotic stand. West Pokot has made me proud,” the West Pokot senator said yesterday.

In Trans Nzoia County, the proposed two additional constituencies and Ward Development Fund contributed to the passage of the Bill.

All the 14 nominated MCAs led by Margaret Wanjala and Philip Nyongesa backed the Bill saying they respected the stand by their respective parties – NASA and Jubilee.

Voted against

MCAs Kirwa Birir (Chepsiro/Kiptoror) and Evans Chesang (Chepchoina) voted against the Bill. Kinyoro MCA Lawrence Mogusu abstained.

Contributing to the BBI debate, the MCAs said the document brings goodies to the counties.

But Birir argued that the BBI is unrealistic and its proponents are over-ambitious.

Nominated MCA Penina Khisa said she left her hospital bed to turn up to support the Bill.

Suwera-Cherangany MCA Mathew Orange, who is also the chair of the constitutional and legal committee, tabled the Bill in the House.

After the passage of the Bill, Speaker Joshua Werunga praised the MCAs for demonstrating maturity and openess during the debate.

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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