Governors back to drawing board after Building Bridges Initiative collapse

Monday, August 30th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and ODM leader Raila Odinga display BBI document when they toured Kisii County to popularise the document. Photo/PD/File

Second-term governors who had pegged their hopes of remaining politically afloat after 2022 on the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative have now been forced back to the drawing board following the recent judgement.

Through the passage and implementation of the Constitutional Amendment (2020) Bill, the governors whose term comes to an end next year, had hoped to benefit from an expanded Executive.

The bill, which was buried by the Court of Appeal a week ago, had proposed the appointment of ministers from both inside and outside Parliament, a move that had enticed the 21 retiring governors to support the then anticipated constitutional referendum. 

Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua, who is serving his last term, said some of his colleagues must make decisions based on the current reality.

“It is the new reality that all of us must review our previous strategies based on it.

The judgement on BBI requires us to go back to the drawing board and make individualised decisions,” said Mutua, who maintained that his presidential ambitions are still on course.

With the current law barring them from seeking another term, the governors had pegged hopes of getting political lifeline through BBI.

Open doors

Some had boarded the BBI train, with fingers crossed and praying for  its success, which was likely to open doors for more plum positions, such as Prime Minister that they could clutch on.

Others had already announced their intentions to opt for parliamentary seats with their eyes on Cabinet slots.

Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Mutua, Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) have hinted that they will vie for the presidency, although pundits claim their plan may have been a decoy to position themselves in their respective counties and in the end entice strong candidates to consider them for coalitions in the spirit of inclusivity.

The same challenge faces Opposition leaders Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Gideon who were hoping to cobble together line-ups based on the expanded structure of the Executive that was proposed in the BBI. It had proposed creation of the position of PM with two deputies.

“The move by the Appellate judges to uphold the annulment of BBI  by the High Court definitely dealt a major blow to the governors, who had high hopes of serving as deputy prime ministers or Cabinet Ministers by running for parliamentary seats.

The judgement has left many of them in shock and they are hoping there shall be an appeal at the Supreme Court or else most will choose unplanned retirement,” Peter Ng’ethe, a political scientist told People Daily yesterday.

For instance, Joho, who has been a proponent of BBI, has been engaged in national politics where he was also pushing for the expansion of the Executive, and some of the President’s confidants were considering him for the deputy PM’s position.

Ministerial position

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya had initially declared to contest for the presidency but later dropped the bid in favour of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Mutua, who has been crisscrossing the county popularising his Maendeleo Chap Chap party, was reportedly being considered for a ministerial position. 

However, Ng’ethe argues that all is not lost, saying they will be required to work harder to make themselves factors in the regional and national politics to attract presidential candidates, who may consider them for positions of Speakers in both Houses of Parliament, CSs or other high-profile Government appointments. 

Then there are those who may consider contesting for the presidency such as Wa Iria, who has kicked off what he wants his backers to believe is a serious presidential ambition under Usawa party.

Ng’ethe argues such a move would not be a walk in the park for such individuals due to the costs implication and logistics. 

“I see a situation where they will form their own regional parties to negotiate with presidential election front runners for Cabinet posts should they deliver the votes.

There are those who will choose to go for the presidential seat till the end, though it will be a tall order,” he said. 

Second-term governors who had been linked to parliamentary seats include Elgeyo Marakwet’s Alex Tolgos, Jackson Madango (Uasin Gishu), who may opt for the Senate seat, Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) was reportedly planning to swap with Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Busia’s Sospeter Ojamoong, who is said to have confided to his ministers that he would contests for Teso South seat; Okoth Obado (Migori) and Narok’s Samuel Tunai.

Tolgos had intended to wriggle his way into the Cabinet through his support of a popular presidential candidate, who would subsequently reward him for the support.

“I am looking at the national level because from the way things are, at the county, one can only go for the Senate seats.

But for me, since BBI has proposed that ministers will be MPs, I could go for a parliamentary seat while working with a presidential candidate.

My focus is a ministerial post or better still be nominated as a professional,” the governor said recently.

Indeed, Tolgos has been the only governor from the North Rift who has been supportive of BBI, and has been warming up to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who is also eyeing the presidency.

Gideon has been working with Raila and President Uhuru’s allies to craft a 2022 succession plan.

Two former governors Peter Munya (Meru), Ukur Yatani (Marsabit) and former aspirants are said to be eyeing their former positions in the next General Election.

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