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Ghosts of Uhuru's BBI plan haunt Mt Kenya leaders ahead of talks

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta met with leaders and representatives of special interest groups at State Lodge Sagana in Nyeri County to discuss the progress of Gov't development projects in the Central Kenya region. [File, Standard]

In what has reawakened the aspirations of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), some parliamentarians from Mt Kenya are now rooting for equitable distribution of revenue through the "one-man-one-vote-one-shilling" formula.

BBI had sought to end the conflict over national resources by using population as the main parameter in allocation.

Insisting that the region has been producing over 30 per cent of national revenue, the MPs say the allocation of resources should henceforth be based on population.

Speaking during a thanksgiving for Juja MP George Koimburi at the Toll Primary School, the leaders underscored the need to review the revenue distribution formula to ensure equity.

"Allocation to my constituents for the bursary kitty is Sh40 million, which I'm supposed to share with over 70,000 applicants. Do your mathematics and tell me how much each will receive. After cooking supper for their kids, parents rush to where forms will be issued, they queue until 4am when we start issuance of the bursary forms," said Ruiru MP Simon King'ara.

King'ara said the allocation is similar to MPs with less than 5,000 beneficiaries. He said the number of needy students was increasing as more families struggle to cope in the harsh economy compounded by drought.

On February 7, Isiolo South MP Mohamed Tupi gathered heads from the eight secondary schools in his constituency and issued Sh23 million to cater for all students, irrespective of their background.

Last Monday, James Atanga died after a stampede at CDF hall in Githurai as parents scrambled for the bursaries. Five others were admitted at various hospitals in Kiambu, one unconscious, while several other people suffered minor injuries.

While calling for equity, EALA MP Maina Karobia called on parliamentarians to push for law amendment to have a fairer revenue-sharing formula entrenched in the Constitution.

"We have MPs and Senators elected who are capable of pushing for 'one man one shilling' that will help Mt Kenya region," he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Murang'a Woman Rep Betty Maina.

Buuri MP Rindikiri Mugambi and his colleague from Manyatta Gitonga Mukunji said one of the resolutions that was agreed during a retreat in Naivasha was on equitable allocation of resources.

MPs Elijah Njoroge Kururia (Gatundu North) and Mwangi Kiujuri (Laikipia East) also called for fairness, saying it was time to correct the anomaly.

During the event, Koimburi distributed Sh50 million to over 6,000 beneficiaries, saying about 8,000 applicants did not benefit.

In his address to the Mt Kenya community at on February 23 last year, popularly known as Sagana III, retired President Uhuru Kenyatta explained to thousands of his supporters why he had pushed for inclusion of "one man one shilling" criteria in BBI.

"Since demarcation of boundaries before 1984, Gema community has been denied its rightful share. When I was pushing for this change it was not for my daughter Ngina neither mine, but for all of us," he said.

"There are areas in this country and I would not want to mention where students get Sh50,000 to Sh100,000 for bursary whereas here in Mt Kenya your kids are getting either Sh2,000 or Sh3,000; is this fair?"

Trade and Investment CS Moses Kuria, who represented Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at the homecoming function, called on legislators to amend the NG-CDF Act to allow them give more than 35 per cent for bursaries.

"I have listened to what you have said about one man, one shilling, but would urge you this time let's not mix issues. Let's first deal with Raila Odinga, but I would request you go back to Parliament and push for bursary to be expunged from CDF, set aside a fund only so that its divided equally with number of people per constituency, I will talk to the President over the matter," said Kuria

This was not the first time the matter was coming up.

It remains to be seen how the MPs will push their agenda, or if they will have it agitated through the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary talks.

Early February during a public participation forum that sought to collect views on utilisation of CDF kitty, legislators from Mt Kenya region said they had been receiving inadequate funds.

Adjusting boundaries

As the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) races against time to adjust the boundaries as constitutionally mandated, the MP urged other concerned parliamentarians to join the push for change in resources allocation formula.

IEBC is expected to adjust the boundaries at intervals of no less than eight years, and not more than 12 years, a timeline that expires next year.

Kiambu, Murang'a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi are some of the heavily populated counties whose leaders have been complaining that they get inadequate resources.

Under the current revenue sharing formula, the population covers 45 per cent, basic equal share 25 per cent, poverty (20 per cent), land area (8 per cent) and fiscal responsibility (2 per cent).

During the thanksgiving, leaders also agitated for guaranteed minimum prices for tea, coffee, milk, green grams and rice, among other farm produce in the region.

On March 26, Kuria hosted a delegation at his home in Kabati, Murang'a, where leaders promised to push for the interests of Mt Kenya region in the Kenya kwanza government.

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