Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s troops stood their ground on protecting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Parliament as the implosion in Jubilee over the sharing of committee slots escalated.
A day after Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe told them off for “demanding too much”, the legislators, led by National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi, said ODM must safeguard the BBI from its enemies.
Mbadi said ODM had long settled for chairing of three committees and deputising four, but remained dissatisfied with Jubilee’s line-up in two crucial committees - Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC), and Delegated Legislation.
“We have asked the majority side to re-look at the membership because the two committees will be critical in the passage of the BBI unless Jubilee has abandoned it,” he said.
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Height of dishonesty
Mbadi said ODM is wary that having Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu), Soipan Tuya (Narok) and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) in JLAC and having William Cheptumo (Baring North), Kiarie and George Murugara (Tharaka) in Delegated Legislation Committee was the height of dishonesty since they have opposed BBI before.
“We believe they were also re-constituting the committees so that the president’s agenda is actualised. We have advised them to look afresh at the list and composition of the membership.”
While Mbadi was diplomatic, Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma was not holding punches on the matter.
Kaluma, one of the longest serving members of JLAC, asked Murathe to direct his attitude elsewhere and not at ODM.
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“We are supporting the president out of principle to help him deliver for Kenyans, not desperation. Let’s stop reckless talk at friends,” he said.
Kaluma said both Jubilee and ODM have every right to demand for committee slots and positions. He said ODM support for the president on the floor of Parliament has been critical and should be adequately rewarded.
“The divergent views attributed to Murathe and Mbadi will ultimately be reconciled by the President and Raila as they establish a stronger and more equitable relationship in Parliament for national good,” he said.
Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu said there is no problem that is insurmountable and the war of words is a result of the difference between Majority Leader Amos Kimunya and Mbadi over House committee slots.
“The difference is just in the management style. The new majority leader has not yet found the right footing and a good working relationship with the others,” said Eseli.
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Ben Momanyi (Borabu), a Wiper MP, said ODM does not have a monopoly of committee leadership positions, adding that the Orange party has not signed any pact with Jubilee.
“ODM should not appear as if they have monopoly over others in allocating positions of the committees. Wiper has a cooperation agreement with Jubilee,” said Momanyi.
Momanyi said Mbadi should not abrogate himself powers that he does not have of picking MPs from other parties to re-constitute the committees.
Sense of entitlement
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo supported Murathe’s sentiments, saying Jubilee invited ODM out of courtesy.
“Murathe is right. ODM was invited out of courtesy and they should not have any sense of entitlement to the committees,” said Maanzo.
Yesterday, Kimunya told disgruntled Jubilee MPs to lobby for their election to the leadership of their working groups instead of fighting him.
He said MPs who feel they deserve to be chair and vice chair of committees and who have been protesting the manner the party leadership handled the reconstitution should focus on winning the trust of their committee members rather than “waste time” fighting his list.
The Kipipiri MP hit out at some Jubilee legislators who he claimed harboured a sense of self entitlement and expected to be named in certain committees in the reconstituted list.
“They will require the support of MPs from different factions within Jubilee, the minority and even the independents,” he said.
Kimunya spoke even a section of Jubilee leaders intensified their attacks on him over the manner he had handled the committees’ reconstitution.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu took to social media to attack Kimunya, accusing him of not having an idea “of where we have come from to get to where we are today, especially on the BBI and the handshake”.
“He (Kimunya) got into a bus that is on full tank, which was freely rolling down the final tarmacked section of the road just before it got to its destination. He wasn’t there when the bus went over potholes and rocks, and doesn’t know that sometimes, the bus ran out of fuel and we had to push it,” said Ngunjiri.
Kimunya has come under criticism from both a section of his Jubilee Party, especially those allied to Kieleweke, and ODM party over the list he presented last week.