County bosses in heated debate over BBI proposals

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Governor Kiraitu Murungi flanked by his Bungoma counterpart Wycliffe Wangamati addresses the press during a retreat in Naivasha to discuss the BBI report. Photo/PD/Kirera Mwiti

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Governors were yesterday engaged in heated exchanges over contents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, ahead of today’s meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The county bosses, drawn from across the political divide, were split down the middle over some proposals in the report, including a requirement that county bosses and their deputies be from the opposite gender.

They also differed over a proposal being pushed by Ward Reps through the County Assemblies Forum that governors pick some of their county executives from among the MCAs.

They clashed over another demand being advanced by deputy governors to have their roles properly defined in the Constitution, with several governors vehemently opposing it on grounds that it might be used to undermine the county bosses.

Make adjustments

Speaking to the People Daily on the sidelines of the event at Enashipai Resort, Naivasha, Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya described the meeting as “hot”, saying he had been forced to intervene on a number of occasions.

“Things are hot inside there but I cannot talk now because I don’t want to pre-empt.

We will give you our resolution,” said Oparanya, who is the Kakamega Governor

But West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said he had no problem with deputy governors seeking more duties. 

“By the way, I was the first governor to appoint my deputy as a minister. It is only unfortunate that he disappeared after six months,” said Lonyangapuo.

Noting that there is no Constitution which is 100 per cent perfect, Lonyangapuo urged opponents of the BBI project to support it, saying it is good for the country.

“We told Kenyans in 2010, ‘let’s pass it then make corrections later’ and I think this is the time,” he said.

“There is no reason to fear because this document is 70 per cent good and we can always make adjustments.” 

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said that male governors were adamant that they would oppose any move that would force them to appoint a woman as deputy governor.

Prodded, Ngilu described her colleagues as “adamant”, saying they should give the proposal a chance.

She maintained that the clause should not be amended because it is part of the capacity building for women leaders, as it raises their profile and confidence when it comes to politics and leadership in general.

“It is obvious that if you get to be a running mate, you start learning the process of politics and also be a bit more confident…it builds capacity; that you can run on your own once the governor finishes his two terms,” said Ngilu.

She accused her male counterparts of hiding behind the argument that there were few politically formidable women to pick from at the county level.

“What they claim here is that it is very difficult to get the opposite gender because they do not have strong women on the ground as there are men,” she said, adding: “It would be very good because we would be building capacity for women.”

“They also start to learn how to run for office and that is the argument we are putting here.

It is the duty of all of us that if we want to see a fully developed country you cannot do it alone; women must be there in the decision-making positions,” she stated.

However, Governors Okoth Obado (Migori), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) openly rejected such a move, saying it would be “politically suicidal” and an affront on democracy.

“If it is after the elections then it is okay, but as a running mate it doesn’t sit well with us,” Njuki said, adding that it is the people who often propose candidates for running mate positions based on their political strength.

Obado said that even in developed democracies such a situation does not exist.

“Even in mature democracy like in the US, the candidates make their decision on who should be their running mate,” he said.

But Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi argued that the BBI report doesn’t make it mandatory for a governor to appoint a deputy from the opposite gender, saying it should be left the way it is.

“It says the governor shall consider a running mate from the opposite gender which means he should give it a deep thought Kiraitu argued. 

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati said governors should be given a free hand to appoint their deputies.

“The biggest winner in this report is devolution and we are keen to strengthen and address the clauses that have problems,” he said.

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