Rift Valley leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto have softened their hard-line stance against the Building Bridges Initiative as North Rift counties prepare for a meeting in Nakuru.
The leaders have agreed to host former premier Raila Odinga and welcome any other leader who wants to attend the meeting slated for March 21 at Afraha Stadium.
On Friday night under the leadership of Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the leaders backed down on their demands and pledged to cooperate.
Addressing journalists outside the governor’s private office at Milimani estate, the leaders pledged not to make remarks that could cause chaos in the region considered Ruto’s political turf.
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Leaders present where Senators Susan Kihika and Victor Prengei, MPs Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Sammy Seroney (Nominated), Samuel Gachobe (Subukia), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South) and Woman Rep Liza Chelule.
The legislators vowed to present a united front at the rally which will incorporate 10 other counties from the Rift Valley region.
And in North Rift, Turkana, West Pokot and Uasin Gishu counties held consultative forums and agreed to attend the meeting and put forward their communities’ recommendations to the Senator Yusuf Haji-led team. In Turkana, the locals opposed proposals on allocation of revenue based on the principle of ‘one person, one vote, one shilling’ and formation of regional governments, warning that the move would reverse devolution gains.
Speakers at a county forum held at Ekaales Centre insisted on retention of the current formula where land mass is a factor in resource allocation.
Speaker Erastus Lokaale read a joint memorandum as a summary of presentations made by the community representatives from the seven sub- counties, professional associations, religious leaders and minority groups.
Governor Josphat Nanok said the leaders from the region had not participated in BBI rallies as they had not met residents to collect views.
To end insecurity, the governor proposed the function be devolved to counties, insisting other countries had devolved part of the security function with great success.
Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes supported development and protection of pastoralism as the dominant source of livelihood for residents of Turkana. Turkana North MP Christopher Nakuleu urged the BBI team to adopt a revenue sharing formula which will represent ideals of all communities - those with land but low in population and those with large numbers but living in small counties.
Senator Malachy Ekal opposed the ‘one vote one shilling’ proposal and termed it as the most dangerous for the Turkana community if adopted.
In Nakuru, when the leadership emerged, they exuded utmost confidence that the rally would be a success.
“The Nakuru rally shall be an inclusive forum where all views will be heard and respected. We don’t want to see a repeat of what happened at the Narok and Meru rallies,” Kihika said.
Kinyanjui said he is committed to ensuring the county remains united during and after the rally, adding they will stick to the primary role of the rally with no political sideshows.
“Views collected from the elementary level shall be factored in the memorandum that will be presented. In politics there is time to work together and time to compete. This is the time to work together,” said the governor.
Discussion about the Afraha rally had been centered on Raila’s attendance with a section of the leaders maintaining that Rift Valley region is Ruto’s backyard and the former premier should not be allowed to steal the show.
However, the Sunday Standard learned that Dr Ruto might have played a role in calming rising temperatures in the region ahead of the BBI rally.
“The DP has reached out to each and everyone of us and asked us to ensure that the Nakuru rally does not end up like those held elsewhere. He does not want the peace realised in the region since 2013 undermined by the BBI,” said a lawmaker who did not want to be named.
In West Pokot, Governor John Lonyangapuo said the community has faced historical injustices which should be addressed.
[Additional reports by Fred Kibor, Irissheel Shanzu and Titus Too]