Mt Kenya leaders demand new count
Elected leaders coalescing under the umbrella of ‘minorities aggrieved by the 2019 census results’ yesterday threatened to seek audince with the courts unless a fresh count is conducted in their counties.
They claimed the results presented by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday were manipulated by powerful forces “more focused on the 2022 succession politics” at the expense of people’s needs.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and his Tharaka Nithi counterpart Muthomi Njuki, alongside other leaders from Tana River and Mandera counties, said the results in the two counties were “cooked” to politically and economically shortchange the two regions dominated by the Ameru.
They urged the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to cancel the “criminal, sinister and evil” results and conduct a fresh one to ensure justice for their people.
Similar concerns were shared by leaders from Kiambu, Kisii and Kakamega, who expressed displeasure over the results, which they said are aimed at assisting politicians in their 2022 game plan.
Ahead of the national census, politicians were jittery over the outcome of the exercise, fearing that some constituencies could be scrapped for lack of requisite numbers with some chiefs mobilising their people to be counted to ensure more resources go to their areas.
Yesterday, Kiraitu whose statement was read by his Chief of Staff Gideon Kimathi at a Nairobi hotel, said in Meru county, which according to the results, has 1,545,714 people—making it the highest in Mt Kenya East—the numbers would have been bigger were it not for “deliberate intention to shift some parts to Isiolo”.
“We feel it was deliberate to shift the population data from some of our areas in Meru county that neighbour Isiolo such as special ward Ngaremara in Tigania East, Ndoleli, Gachiulu sub-location, Epiding and Kina areas of Igembe North,” he said.
The governor said it was wrong for the areas to be counted as part of Isiolo county, adding that the motive to slash some areas from his county will reduce the amount of money allocated to his people.
“Our county will be disadvantaged if the error is not fixed because high population demands that the county gets resources and development that is commensurate with the numbers,” he said.
Tharaka Nithi governor also in a statement said the numbers given to them will not only affect their revenue allocation, but might also lead to one of their three constituencies being scrapped.
The statement was signed by Senator Kithure Kindiki, Woman Rep Beatrice Nkatha, MPs Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka) and Patrick Munene (Chuka Igambang’ombe).
However, KNBS director general Zachary Mwangi said he was not surprised by the “feedback” from the politicians, but refuted their manipulation claims, saying the counting exercise was devoid of any external influence.
“The figures are correct. They were not manipulated; we did the whole exercise professionally without any influence from anybody or any organ of government. (But) we will engage the aggrieved leaders so that we can explain to them that the numbers are of the people who we found,” Chege told People Daily.
A number of constituencies, according to the results, have not attained the minimum 133,000 people, meaning they could be merged with others.
With the Tharaka Nithi population having been placed at 393,177, Njuki expressed fears that one of their three constituencies could be scrapped. Munene claimed the census process was politically manipulated to allegedly benefit the Building the Bridges Initiative (BBI), which is being spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Raila Odinga.
And despite the discontent, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa yesterday urged county governments to use the census data for development planning.
Wamalwa said census plays an important process in the pursuit of sustainable development and national growth.
Speaking in Kwale on Tuesday while addressing the Annual National Planners Convention organised by the Kenya Institute of Planners (KIP), the CS said counties should utilise the census data for the successful planning and implementation of development projects.
Tana River Woman Representative Rehema Hassan and Garsen MP Ali Wario termed the census process as “criminal”, claiming the numbers were manipulated by powerful individuals in government keen on 2022 succession politics.
Economic Freedom Party (EFP) whose membership is concentrated in Mandera county also intends to challenge the numbers in court after results showed that area population has reduced from 1.02 million in 2009 to 867, 457 people.
EFP chair Isaac Hassan and secretary general Adullahi Abdinoor claimed there were efforts to disenfranchise the people of Mandera by “cooking the figures”.
Former Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwawe said the constituency has been put at the risk of being scrapped after the results indicated that it has a population on 111,143, down from 143,153 in 2009.
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi said the results show there are 2.5 million in his county. He, however, claimed the population is in the excess of three million but they “will live with the 2019 census result”.
But some leaders such as Naivasha MP Jane Kihara were happy with the results and demanded for more funding after the results showed that her area has 350,000 people. “Our numbers must not only count in voting but also in resource allocation,” she said.
Reporting by Eric Wainaina, Dorcas Mbatia, Karera Mwiti, Hillary Mageka and Munira Mandano.