BBI big test for bigwigs as MCAs vote - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 15 February 2021

BBI big test for bigwigs as MCAs vote

 

Political grandees are facing a big test of clout and credibility in regions they are perceived to command as county assemblies vote on the BBI Bill.

Regional kingpins are under immense pressure as a number of  assemblies are aligning public participation and debate on the BBI bill this week. Counties have three months for careful consideration but VIPs want them to pass it fast for a June referendum.

Some MCAs assert their independence, say they won't vote until they hear what their constituents think about the Bill and they say they won't be railroaded into voting. 

Twenty-four of the 47 county assemblies must pass the Bill, sending it to Parliament for debate and vote. Then, if MPs support it, the Bill will go to a plebiscite

The stakes are high as the battle shifts to the counties.

BBI constitutional amendments would increase the size of the Executive by adding an Prime Minister and two deputies, plus 70 constituencies. It would increase counties' allocations from 15 to 35 per cent, though that is already an option in the 2010 Constitution.

Proponents say it will promote devolution, increase money to the counties and increase communal inclusiveness.

Siaya, Homa Bay, and Kisumu have passed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, giving ODM leader Raila Odinga a head start.

Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta passionately support the Bill as a near-panacea for what ails Kenya.

Migori is expected to follow suit this week as ODM expresses confidence of winning over the Kisii and Nyamira assemblies.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Kisii Governor James Ongwae are have made special efforts to woo MCAs to pass the bill.

The outcome of the assembly votes will signal the perceived kingpin's power and popularity ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The BBI outcome, pundits say, has a bearing on the political grip of leaders, especially in areas where Deputy President William Ruto has called BBI a waste of time and money.

Covid-19 and joblessness are more important issues to mwananchi, the DP has said, though he decines to lead the 'no' campaign  against BBI.

Opinion polls by research firm Infotrak and by Radio Africa Group have shown BBI is not popular among the general public.

Uhuru and Raila’s lieutenants and those allied to DP Ruto are having sleepless nights.

They have been trying to influence assembly votes, either way, to make a political statement about the outcomes.

President Kenyatta, who was accused of neglecting his backyard, has poured a lot of energy into changing indifferent to negative perceptions about BBI. And he's using taxpayer-funded state machinery to help him.

Now his lieutenants say all's well in Mt Kenya, and assemblies will give BBI a thumbs up.

Mt Kenya is one of the regions where the DP’s anti-BBI message appears to have sunk in, a matter Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata raised in his recent embarrassing public letter to Uhuru. His candour cost him his job as chief whip.

The region’s 10 governors as well as assembly leaders promised President Kenyatta during the Sagana lodge meeting that they’ll deliver the on BBI.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing more than 600 youth leaders from Central Kenya n at Sagana State Lodge.
GO BBI: President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing more than 600 youth leaders from Central Kenya n at Sagana State Lodge.
Image: PSCU

President Kenyatta’s influence will be tested in Murang’a whose other key leaders -  MP Alice Wahome and Kiharu MP  Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) oppose BBI.

Murang’a MCAs are to vote on the Bill this week after public participation closes on Thursday.

Tharaka Nithi’s public forums end on February 18, then MCAs will vote.

Nyeri ends pubic hearings on Thursday, then votes.Meru is to vote this week after a public hearing on Tuesday.

Nakuru will end public input on Thursday, Laikipia and Embu on Wednesday.

Council of Governors chairman Nyaga Wambora-led Embu county is to debate on the Bill on February 23, while Nairobi is set to finish public hearings on Wednesday.

Is one day enough for public input on such monumental changes? critics and observers ask.

Igembe North MP Maoka Maore, who is among the key BBI promoters in Central, said those against BBI who would suffer severe political consequences.

He said there are no anti-BBI issues with the public.

“We only have a desperate gang of politicians aligned to Tangatanga who are lining up to hire youths to make noise that there is an issue with the BBI. You will see them but they are of zero consequence,” the National Assembly deputy majority whip said.

He added opponents "will stand condemned for misleading the people at such a momentous time instead of taking a position that can make people move forward.

“They don’t say how it is going to be a problem, except it will be a problem for those politicians in a big way at the end of this debate.”

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Kanu boss Gideon Moi and in Iten town on December 5, 2020.
PUSHING BBI: Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Kanu boss Gideon Moi and in Iten town on December 5, 2020.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Senator Gideon Moi, the Kanu boss, suffered the first loss after MCAs from his Baringo county backyard on Friday voted to reject the Bill after a fistfight when riot police were called. A tear gas cannister was thrown into the assembly.

The Senator is among the big names in the Uhuru succession.

Gideon is banking on Nakuru whose outcome will equally have a bearing on Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s 2022 stakes against Ruto’s diehard supporter Susan Kihika.

Moi wooed Nakuru MCAs to pass the Bill even as Uasin Gishu assembly leaders said they will take their time as per the law. The law gives counties three months to decide.

Seeming unperturbed, Gideon said the BBI will pass in a number of Rift Valley counties and urged residents to look at the bigger picture.

“We will take corrective measures to ensure we get the BBI bill passed, and then deal with our detractors as we head to 2022,” the senator said. His Kanu team promised more campaigning.

“I am certain the citizenry will approve the Bill at referendum,” Gideon said, sentiments backed by lieutenants Samuel Poghisio and William Kamket.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is under pressure to deliver the BBI Bill in the Coast region against the forces coalescing around Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park for a BBI rally on Saturday, January 25, 2021
YES ON BBI: Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park for a BBI rally on Saturday, January 25, 2021
Image: FILE:

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir expressed confidence the BBI Bill would be passed by most Coast counties, including Mombasa.

“Mombasa will definitely pass the BBI. If at all there's any resistance, it would be minimal," he said.

He said they have worked to surmount the challenges posed by the "lie gear" of BBI opponents. 

“They (rivals) started with lies that the BBI was about individuals and that it would increase taxation. We are working to undo the falsehoods since the question is about taking more money to grassroots.

“Let those campaigning against the BBI know that. We blame ourselves because we let the process start before people were told what it was all about,” Nassir told the Star on Sunday.

In a rare show of unity in Western, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, joined by Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Cotu boss Francis Atwoli and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, have also sought to convince MCAs to pass the Bill.

Meantime, lawmakers from the region make a fresh request for an additional half a million shillings above the Sh2 million car grant already offered by the salaries team.

The President, Raila and others say a car grant is richly deserved, not a bribe to induce MCAs to pass the BBI Bill.

Despite the machinations and ultimatums, Oparanya expressed confidence BBI would pass in the assemblies.

“From the resolutions reached during our Saturday meeting, we can comfortably say it is just a matter of time before the support is confirmed,” the former CoG boss said.

Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang’ula said the unity among them would result in a uniform outcome in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga, and Trans Nzoia counties – all expected to vote by the end of next week.

Also worth watching is Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku who is the chairman of the counties aligned to the Maa community - Samburu, Kajiado, and Narok. There is an aggressive 'no' campaign  by the Ruto brigade.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale is equally faced with a test, especially should the MCAs pass the legislation.

The former House Majority leader is among key voices opposed to the BBI Bill, against the governors of Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, and Wajir.

Last week, he was part of the team of 140 MPs who said BBI is not a priority.

COURTESY OF THE STAR.   

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