Mt Kenya calls for ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’ system

Monday, March 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Opposition leader Raila Odinga (centre) and BBI taskforce chair Yusuf Haji (late) receive the Mt Kenya BBI resolutions from governors (Left to right) Mwangi Wa-Iria (Murang’a), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) at Kinoru Stadium in Meru. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Eric Wainaina @Ewainaina

Counties in the Mt Kenya region are unanimously pushing for equitable distribution of revenue against the backdrop of grievances that the region has been getting a raw deal in terms of resources and representation.

Leaders from the region who support the Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI) want the Constitution amended to entrench the “one man, one vote, one shilling” principle. 

In their resolutions to the BBI taskforce presented during the Saturday rally at Kinoru stadium in Meru, the leaders proposed a provision to ensure revenue is shared depending on population of a county.

They also want parliamentary representation  to be determined by population in the constituency, arguing that the vote-rich region is under-represented.

These, among other demands, were presented to the BBI taskforce chairman Yusuf Haji by Mt Kenya economic bloc chair and Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia.

“On sharing of resources, we affirm and recommend full implementation of the Constitutional principle of equitable allocation of revenue raised nationally,” he said. 

Populous counties

Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi, who has been the face of the ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’ mantra since 2014 when he sued Commission of Revenue Allocation for shortchanging populous counties, said  only such a formula can guarantee the region an equal development opportunity.

Wamatangi has been demanding that funds be disbursed based on population of a region, a proposal not entertained by leaders from the less populated regions.

 Leaders from the Maa community, which form part of the less-populated counties, are on their part pushing for “one shilling, one kilometre” mantra which is draw the ire of their counterparts from heavily populated regions.

“Allocation of resources should be based on geographical parameters, status of development and historical marginalisation,” Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku said  during the Narok BBI rally on February 22.

Similar suggestions have also been made by leaders from north Eastern which has huge land mass and less population and could form the next battlefront among leaders backing the BBI.

Tangible development

Wamatangi said the push to have the revenue distribution formula reviewed to make population as the main parameter by Mount Kenya leaders will not stop regardless of the controversies it is creating among the proponents of the BBI.

“This is a war that we have been fighting and senators who have served in the last Parliament, including Governor Kiraitu Murungi can attest to that fact that I started the war in 2014 when I went to court to demand that Mount Kenya region wants ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’,” he said during the Meru rally. 

 The senator said the  revenue sharing formula which CRA has been applying since the advent of devolution, unless reviewed, will marginalise heavily populated regions because they are left with little or no money to make tangible development.

Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi as some ofthe heavily populated counties, whose governors have been complaining that they get inadequate resources.

 Under the current formula, population covers 45 per cent, basic equal share (25 per cent), poverty (20 per cent), land area (8 per cent) and fiscal responsibility (2 per cent) which Wamatangi says leaves the heavily-populated counties with little cash for development.

This, he says, is because the county allocations do not reflect the respective people’s need as per their population, a thing which the senator warned will lead to marginalisation of developed counties.

New formula

 For instance, in the current financial year, Turkana, which has a population of 926,976, will get Sh10.2 billion while Kiambu which has a population of 2.4 million was allocated Sh9.3 billion.

After deducting recurrent expenditure, Wamatangi said Kiambu was left with less than Sh2 billion for development, while Murang’a is normally left with approximately Sh1.1 billion and Kirinyaga Sh600 million yet some less populated counties get over Sh5 billion.

But CRA has already proposed new revenue sharing formula which if approved by the Senate will favour populous counties.

The proposed new formula gives a 20 per cent boost on the population parameter and will see counties which have been benefiting more on land mass have their allocation deducted. 

Regarding equal representation, Kimenia said it should be proportional, a position echoed by Laikipia governor Nderitu Mureithi and his Kiambu counterpart James Nyoro, who said there are constituencies in the region with over 300,000 people represented by just one MP while others have less than 100, 000 people. 

“On the representation of the people, we recommend the introduction of the proportional representation system as the most effective means of achieving  equality of the vote,” Kimemia said.

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