Maa elders say one-man-one-shilling debate to divide country


A  section of the Maasai Council of Elders led by National chairman Kelena Ole Nchoe address the media in Narok County on May 20, 2024. [George Sayagie, Standard]

The push by a section of Mt Kenya leaders for a one-man-one-vote-one-shilling revenue formula has continued to elicit mixed reactions across the country.

The National Maasai Council of Elders has accused Mt Kenya leaders of being hellbent on dividing the country along tribal lines.

The council leaders warned that the push for a one-man-one-vote-one-shilling revenue formula will destroy the fabric of the nation.

They said the proposal would infringe upon the rights of the pastoralist and marginalised communities that are less populous.

Addressing the press in Narok town, the council national chairman Kelena ole Nchoe accompanied by elders from Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Laikipia and Baringo counties, argued that the Kenyan democracy advocates for the people to move forward as one nation.

They said equity must prevail and warned that if the formula is implemented communities like the Maasai, Samburu, and Ilchamus who have no numbers would remain marginalised.

The elders threatened to rally Maa-speaking counties to back the formula that gives a premium to land mass as opposed to population.

They noted that Narok is endowed with natural resources like Maasai Mara National Reserve and Maasai Mau forest and they risk being denied the funds to deliver services to the people.

“Our regions have huge land mass under either national parks, and game reserves that bring billions of dollars in terms of revenue. So you want to tell us you collect revenue from our vast rangelands to go and pay a populous region in Kenya because they are the biggest contributors in taxes?” Posed Ole Nchoe.  

The council's vice chairman Sironga Oleiree opposed the one-man-one-vote-one-shilling revenue formula describing it as an unfair distribution of resources. Oleiree said counties with higher populations will receive more resources to the detriment of those with large land masses and a low population.

He said Mt Kenya should not benefit more at the expense of pastoral community rangelands that are high producers of wheat, barley, livestock products, and forests critical for gaining carbon markets and avert the effects of climate change.

“They should know that they have a high population, but they have been developed at the expense of the vast community land in marginalised and Asal areas for many years since they were dominant in successive governments in the post-colonial era,” said Oleiree.

They were reacting to the one-man-one-vote-one-shilling revenue formula debate that was revived by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, recently during the consecration of Bishop John Nthiga at ACK St Peters Church in Mbeere, Embu county.

The DP was quoted saying resources were about the people and should be distributed according to the population as opposed to the size of the area.

“In matters of revenue sharing, and for the avoidance of doubt I am a believer and a proponent of ‘one man, one vote, one shilling, resources are about people,” Gachagua said.

He argued that the more people in an area, the more taxes they contribute and therefore when distributing resources, they should get higher allocation.

Gachagua's sentiments were echoed by Mt Kenya leaders during the Limuru lll meeting last weekend. During the event, a political formation dubbed Haki Coalition was unveiled to vouch for the 'one man, one vote, one-shilling revenue formula among other Mt Kenya interests.

In the meeting, it was also agreed that the region would pursue its interests collectively, including the push for one man, one vote, and one-shilling revenue formula, in Parliament and public forums including churches.

However, the Maa elders dismissed the leader's resolution and suggested that the one-kilometer one-shilling formula be considered as the best way of sharing revenue since it would ensure inclusivity.

Eunice Marima, a representative of indigenous women said the one man, one vote, and one-shilling revenue formula, if implemented would defeat the essence of equity and fairness in the distribution of national wealth where indigenous communities in Asal areas will end up getting a raw deal.

“If the formula is implemented, there will be no equity and fairness in the distribution of the national wealth, these small communities will be like donkeys to one community, we will be working for them,” said Marima.