Siaya first county to pass BBI draft law

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 00:00 |
Silvester Madialo(Usonga MCA) defends the BBI draft bill after seconding the motion on Thursday at the chambers. Photo/PD/ERIC JUMA

Henry Andanje and Noven Owiti

Siaya County Assembly yesterday passed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) bill as MCAs in several counties across the Nyanza and Western region raced against time to debate and approve the proposed new law. 

During a Special Sitting convened by the Speaker George Okode, the MCAs unanimously passed the bill, becoming the first county assembly in the country to pass it.

The MCAs denied claims that they were using the document to blackmail President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga into yielding to their demands of a Sh2 million car grant and pension, arguing that they had passed the bill because of the benefits it contained.

The chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Francis Otiato, while tabling the bill said it would transform the lives of Kenyans if it is implemented.

“The intensity of electoral processes has made elections to be defined by all forms of ills spurred by ethnic antagonism which has led to rigging, violence, killings and even internally displacing people,” he said.

Their counterparts in Busia also tabled the bill in the county assembly, paving the way for public participation exercise that commences from February 9.

No anomaly

Nominated MCA Florence Ologi (ODM) tabled the bill that Deputy Speaker referred to the Legal and Human Rights Committee to commence public publication process.

Ologi, who is also the Vice Chair, Legal and Human Rights Committee said they were taken through the draft bill during their meeting with Raila on Tuesday in Nairobi and saw no anomaly in the document.

“We were taken through the draft bill during our meeting with ODM leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi on Tuesday and we saw no anomaly in the document,” said Ologi.

The committee chairman, David Kokonya said the draft bill is a public document which the public must be given a chance to make informed opinion.

Nangina Ward MCA, John Obwogo said they are ready to hit the road to sensitize county residents on the contents of the draft bill to enable them make informed decision.

The MCA for Angurai South Ward Grace Olita said she will enlighten residents on why the document is pro-devolution, noting that more resources will trickle into counties.

In an advertisement appearing in daily newspapers, the Assembly has invited residents to either submit memoranda containing their views on the Bill or attend public participation forums in all the seven sub-counties of Busia.

Public participation hearings will run from February 9 to February 12. On February 9, the exercise will be held in Port Victoria, Town Hall and Funyula CDF Hall.

On February 10, it will move to Butula Family Life Hall and Nambale DCC’s Office. 

The next day it will move to Teso South and Teso North DCC offices. Matayos will host the last meeting on February 12 at Busia Agricultural Training Centre.

On Tuesday, Kisumu MCAs held a crucial meeting where the Kenya Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020 was tabled on the floor of the House and read for the first time.

It was then committed to the assembly committee on Administration of Law, Justice, Legal Affairs and Good governance which is tasked to deliberate on it and submit its report for debate.

 The MCAs are then expected to debate the Bill next Tuesday after resuming sittings from the long recess.

Speaker Elisha Oraro said the Bill will be subjected to a rigorous public participation on Friday before a report of the committee is brought back to the assembly for final deliberations.

He said members of the public will have a chance to present their input through a written memorandum sent to the assembly clerk’s office on what they want captured.

Oraro said deliberations on the draft referendum Bill will top the agenda of the House business when the assembly reconvenes following the long break.

 “In the plenary sitting the Bill will not go through amendments. Members will only have an opportunity to vote either in support or against the proposals,” Oraro said, noting that several proposals in the BBI report are for the good of the devolved units.

The committee chairman Seth Okumu said they will dispense with the Bill within the shortest period.

Okumu hinted that the assembly MCAs will unanimously approve the Bill once it is presented in the House for debate

“As a committee we want to fast-track transactions on the BBI Bill. We believe it is beneficial to the residents,” said Okumu.

According to the dictates of the law, the referendum Bill must be passed by at least 24 counties before it proceeds to Parliament for further debate.

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