How Uhuru helped Oparanya, Wa Iria retain CoG top posts

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya addresses the media on the Covid-19 pandemic at the Delta House offices in Nairobi. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

President Uhuru Kenyatta may have had a hand in yesterday’s re-election of Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya as the chairman of the Council of Governors.

Sources told People Daily that Uhuru lobbied governors to retain Oparanya due to his support of the Building Bridges Initiative, of which governors have become key drivers.

During the elections held yesterday, Oparanya was re-elected after his Mandera counterpart Ali Roba dropped out of the race. 

Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria retained the vice-chair seat while Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana was re-elected Chief Whip.

The deal to have governors front the BBI process at the counties was struck during a meeting between Uhuru and the governors at State House Mombasa last week.

On Saturday, Oparanya hosted a meeting in Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium to drum up support for BBI.

According to our source, Uhuru rallied governors to vote for Oparanya who he sees as non-controversial compared to his predecessors Isaac Ruto and Peter Munya.

“Oparanya was also seen to be friendlier to both Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga,” said the source.

During the Mombasa meeting, Uhuru is said to have told the 27 governors present that they were likely to benefit from the positions contained in the suggested expanded Executive in the BBI report. 

Top on the wish list, according to governors, was amending the Constitution to provide for an expanded Executive with a powerful prime minister and two deputies.

“In the meeting, the President said some of us were serving our final term and we have a lot of experience that should not go to waste.

He said that while the BBI report has proposed the position of prime minister, there should also be deputies,” a governor who attended the meeting told People Daily on condition of anonymity. 

Ruto candidates

Uhuru’s support of Oparanya is also attributed to the latter’s push for the success of the Big Four agenda during his firstb term as the chair of the COG. Oparanya is said to have been in the forefront in pushing for the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage.

Besides Roba, the DP’s camp is said to have been fronting Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago for position of vice chair and Marsabit Governor Ali Mohammed as Chief Whip.

Ruto’s camp had the support of governors from Rift Valley, Northern Kenya and Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu) from the Coast region.

But when the 35 governors gathered at a city hotel for the Annual General Meeting, the pro-Uhuru team outnumbered the Ruto camp, prompting Roba to drop out.

The position of the vice chair was, however, contested with Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Mandago seeking to oust the Murang’a Governor. They, however, pulled out after consensus was reached.

Of the three governors facing graft cases in court, only Kiambu’s Ferdinand Waititu turned up while Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) stayed away.

The three have been barred by the courts from accessing their offices but it is not clear whether they are allowed to attend events like the CoG meetings.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was tasked to lobby her Mt Kenya colleagues while Uhuru and Raila  personally rallied those from Western Kenya, Nyanza, Ukambani  and Coast regions to vote for Oparanya and his team.

Before yesterday’s election, Raila met four governors from Coast region, Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Mohamed Dadho (Tana River) to plan the weekend BBI rally which will be held in Mombasa.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa assured the governors that the national government will work closely with county governments to ensure realisation of BBI objectives.

He also congratulated the governors for having conducted free and organised elections. 

“The white smoke came much earlier and I am here to congratulate you. The leadership of CoG is critical in the realisation of the Big Four agenda and Vision 2030,” Wamalwa said.

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