Kiambu leaders seek changes after Building Bridges Initiative failure
Resources allocation in the populous Kiambu county remains a thorny issue in the flesh with various leaders asking Parliament to enact some minimum reforms, recommended in the collapsed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document.
Prior to the Court of Appeal throwing out the BBI two weeks ago, Kiambu was set to benefit immensely from the proposed creation of six new constituencies and subsequent allocation of more funds from the Exchequer.
The county, with a population of over 2.4 million according to the 2019 national population census, is the second most populous after Nairobi and would have seen up to Sh21 billion pumped into its government coffers yearly as part of the BBI recommendations.
Currently, the county government receives Sh9 billion annually, 70 per cent of which goes towards recurrent expenditure, mainly payment of salaries.
Hence the proposed creation of more areas of representation and additional funding to the county is still a hot potato despite the collapse of BBI.
“Let us separate politics from issues that affect our people. For instance having at least six more constituencies for Kiambu or more funds allocated to the county government is not political but an economic reality,” said County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndicho.
Pushing more reforms
Ndicho and the county Governor James Nyoro are among leaders and stakeholders in the county who are pushing for more reforms to be effected through Parliament so that the dream of enhancing representation is realised.
Others who have added their voice to the demand for more parliamentary seats and additional funding include MPs Patrick Wainaina (Thika Town), George Koimburi (Juja) and Simon King’ara (Ruiru).
Similarly, County Senator Kimani Wamatangi has also been a strong proponent for more funding and a crusader of the ‘One Man One Vote One Shilling’ clarion call that rocked the country ahead of the 2020 national budget.
Other advocates for splitting of the large constituencies include County Assembly Jubilee caucus chairman Njoroge Kururia and the Governor’s political advisor David Ngari.
Ruiru tops the constituencies population chart with 371,111 inhabitants followed by Juja (300,948) and Thika Town (284,776), the three of which make a combined population of 956,835 as per the last national census figures.
Among the 12 constituencies, Kiambaa also ranks highly with a population of 236,400 as well as Kabete (199,400).
Ndicho argues that for equity to be realized in fair distribution of resources, the only option left is for Parliament to initiate the requisite reforms and added that he supports an initiative by the Council of Governors (CoG) to sponsor a motion to that effect.
“These are pertinent issues that Parliament should address as a matter of urgency.
We cannot continue to have school children in Kiambu receiving a paltry Sh2,000 or Sh3,000 as bursary allocations while those in some other parts of the country get up to Sh80,000. This is not in the interest of fairness,” the Speaker said.
He stated that the constitutional changes should not be tied to an election cycle.
“People who are oppressed should not be told to wait for an election. These changes should be effected without further delay and must not be pegged to an election,” Ndicho added.
Wainaina on his part says Parliament has an avenue to enact laws to increase funding to the grassroots despite the collapse of the BBI.
“All is not lost even after the BBI process was thrown out by the courts. The document contained proposals that are beneficial to the country, especially the allocation of more resources to the counties and Parliament has a chance to enact this using certain clauses,” said the independently elected legislator.
Wainaina said he supports the channeling of more resources to the counties as proposed through the BBI as this would spur faster development at the grassroots.
“I have never been for the idea of increasing the number of leadership positions in the country, but I fully back the move to increase allocation of funds to our counties as this is the only way to check unemployment and reduce poverty,” the MP added.
Kururia who is Biashara ward MCA in Ruiru hailed the recommendation to introduce a ward fund as transformative for the grassroots and said the law should be amended in the best interests of the people for fair representation and distribution of resources.
Wamatangi has been spearheading the idea of allocation of funds to populous counties or constituencies through the One Man, One Vote, One Shilling call.
“We cannot claim to be fair at all when some parts of the country remain underrepresented or under-funded on account of the high population,” says the Senator.
Koimburi said the splitting of the highly populated constituencies should not be debatable and added that it is high time MPs move to enact the creation of more areas of parliamentary representation.
However, there is still a ray of hope for Kiambu after the drafters of the BBI document said they would take the matter to the Supreme Court for a final ruling which might rescue some of the “friendly” proposals.
ODM leader Raila Odinga and his ANC counterpart Musalia Mudavadi added their voice to the call for more parliamentary seats and allocation of more funds to the Mt Kenya region.
Speaking during a Sunday service at the Bible Fellowship Church in Kigumo constituency, Murang’a County, Raila said he roots for the one-man one-shilling mode of allocating funds as contained in the BBI document.
Elsewhere, Mudavadi said the electoral boundary changes do not require a referendum as it is a function of the IEBC.
“In light of this and without change of the Constitution, new boundaries should be created in line with the number of people per constituency. This will enable the people of Mt Kenya to benefit from the national cake,” said Mudavadi.