BBI promises decentralization of resources, there are those don’t want that

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 02:20 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga participates in traditional Kikuyu prayers in Kiambu county during BBI popularization tour attended by small scale traders from Githurai market. Photo/PD/FILE


The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) reggae has been paused. The beat is on mute mode. But the rhythm must be allowed to continue. We need to continue interrogating issues from both the proposing and opposing sides if we, as Kenyans, are to win in the final analysis.

One point the proponents of the BBI tune have been very vocal about, and which everyone seems to agree that it is one of the best features of the constitutional amendment bill, is the proposal that a minimum of 35 percent of the national revenue, as opposed to the current 15 per cent, will be allocated to the counties in an effort to devolve resources.

There are many reasons why it is very difficult to find fault in this particular proposal. But one that stands out is simply because all of us Kenyans live and work in a county and resources finding their way there are bound to find us. And benefit us.

But opponents must find a reason to oppose!

I have been listening to the anti-BBI team struggle to put up arguments on why the document is bad. I am, however, yet to be convinced they actually believe in what they have been saying about the proposed allocation to the counties. Their main line has been that the national government has not been able to send the 15 percent to the devolved units and therefore it won’t give 35 per cent, period.

But that is not the truth. The simple truth is there is a scientific possibility to extract and allocate 35 wherever there is a hundred! It is just a matter of priority and constitutionalizing that particular intention is the best way to assure counties of their priority space at the national table. Those opposing the BBI do not want counties to occupy such a central and significant space and there is one logical, albeit selfish, reason for that.

Look at it this way.

So far, all those arguing that the Government will not actualize the 35 percent revenue to counties are allied, politically, to Deputy President William Ruto. They have been in government for up to eight years and, at one point or another, conveniently told us that the Jubilee government has actually been giving counties more than the constitutionally prescribed 15 percent. Of course until the BBI debate came and the math changed.

Now, ironically, the Dr Ruto is expressing doubt that the funds will be made available at a time when the national government he co-leads is already finding it hard to provide the current 15 per cent. He is asking why his government cannot do it now “because the current Constitution allows it, as it says we can provide a minimum of 15 per cent — which means it can be increased,”

But he says when he becomes President, he will make available resources that will ensure the poor- those he calls hustlers- are emancipated from penury

 “As we talk about power and positions we must also talk about ordinary jobs for ordinary Kenyans. We must also talk about more resources and creating wealth for these people down here,” the DP says. Double speak?

The DP says instead of changing the Constitution to “create positions for leaders”, the focus should be on empowering wananchi. There is no better way of empowering wananchi than giving them money and making sure the giving is in law!

But it is not difficult to tell why the “Hustlers” and their leader do not want devolution of resources constitutionalized. They are campaigning for the presidency in less than two years and one of their main motivations for power is unfettered control over the resources of the country.

From what we have seen, Dr Ruto and his army believes in tokenism as a means of buying and controlling supporters. Money at the county is not at the mercy of the President in Nairobi and therefore denies whoever occupies that office the tool to micro-manage it. That is the reason Tangatanga doesn’t want county allocations increase. That is the reason Tangatanga doesn’t want BBI.

And like Likoni MP Mishi Mboko put it over the weekend, “Ruto is against the BBI because he knows that if it passes, it will ensure equitable distribution of resources. You cannot give our children wheelbarrows when your daughter is an ambassador in Poland. Our people need to get factories closer to them so that they can better their lives”

Lift us up as well.

Ms Anyango is a social commentator. [email protected]

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