Rush on as assemblies move to endorse BBI public debate

Thursday, February 11th, 2021 00:00 |
Kisumu County Assembly speaker Elisha Oraro chairs the assembly where the MCAs approved the BBI bill after Siaya County. Photo/PD/Viola Kosome

County Assemblies are in a rush to call for public participation and submission of memoranda on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill in their respective jurisdictions as they move fast to pass the document ahead of the scheduled referendum.  

Yesterday, 12 assemblies through their clerks invited residents to present their views on the document to enable them to make a sound decision whether to pass or reject the bill.  

The county assemblies included Embu, Laikipia, Meru, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Murang’a and Kirinyaga. Others were Nairobi, Makueni and Machakos.  

In the notification published in local dailies, residents in the said counties are expected to submit written memorandum forwarded to their respective assembly clerks between February 15 and 17 and thereafter give way to a public participation.  

“The Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020 has been submitted to the county assembly the IEBC for consideration...Pursuant to Article 10(2) and 196(i)b interested parties are to submit any representations they may have on the bill,” read part of the notification by Nakuru County Assembly.  

It further continued to note that ‘the presentation may be made orally or by memorandum written to the Clerk of the county assembly on or before February 17 and through a public participation to be held on February 18’.   

Tighten the grip

Constitutional lawyers say the move is meant to tighten the grip on any loophole that may term the process as unconstitutional, after a five-judge Bench ruled that the court has the powers to declare it invalid by interrogating the constitutionality of the entire BBI process.  

“The court can interfere at the tail end. Even when considering the Bill, be aware the court can declare it unconstitutional upon hearing the petitions,” said Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Janet Mulwa and Enock Mwita.  

According to timelines, county assemblies have 90 days to debate and pass or reject the BBI Bill, which is then supposed to be forwarded to the two Houses of Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly.  

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui had revealed that all County Assemblies in the Mt Kenya bloc will pass the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum Bill on February 23.  

Speaking in Subukia on Sunday, Kinyanjui said 24 counties are expected to have approved the Bill before the end of the month exuding confidence that the bill was right for the nation.  

Kinyanjui who has publicly supported the document has earned a place in the heart of President Uhuru Kenyatta through providing sober conversations among leaders in the larger Mount Kenya bloc.  

Car loan facility

So far, two county assemblies Siaya and Kisumu have already passed the bill following a public participation that was conducted at the assemblies premises by the Legal and Justice committees in the respective counties.  

County assemblies within Nyanza and Western region are set to vote on the bill this week. In Homa Bay, the bill will be debated today as the assembly already asked the public to submit their views during public participation.  

Migori is expected to approve the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 later in the week, the Bill must be passed by at least 24 of 47 county assemblies before going to Parliament for approval, then to a referendum.  

The resolve to hurriedly pass the bill is said to have been reignited by the government move through the Salaries and Remunerations Commission to approve the award of Sh 4.5 billion car grant they have been demanding.  

Commission chairperson Lynn Mengich, in a memo to Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora, said counties will be given implementation guidelines and are to convert the car loan facility to a car grant, which it said will come at no extra expense.  

This is said to have excited some members of the county assembly who have already shown their unwavering support for the document as it is.  

On Monday, ODM party leader Raila Odinga convened a Nyanza consultative forum bringing the four counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori in a bid to consolidate his traditional turf as they pass the BBI bill.  

At the same time, Kirinyaga Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs) have resolved to involve their constituents in approving or rejecting the Constitutional Amendment, with the speaker Antony Gathumbi observing that ward reps have a big burden of educating their people on the Bill.  

He expressed the need for members of the public to actively participate in the process for them to make an informed decision to either support or reject. 

The speaker made the remarks after attending a prayer meeting hosted at the Assembly presided over by the Bishop ACK Diocese of Kirinyaga Joseph Karimi Kibuchwa.  

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