Wamatangi: We can’t run away from one-man, one-vote, one-shilling issue

Kimani Wamatangi

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

As the one-man, one-vote, one-shilling revenue-sharing formula debate gains fresh momentum, the man behind it is warning politicians against trivialising it or turning it an inter-ethnic conflict.

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi, who has been behind the push since 2016 when he first challenged the revenue allocation formula in court, believes the controversy should give Kenyans a chance to deliberate more on a fairer way of sharing national resources.

Eight years since Mr Wamatangi initiated the debate in the Senate and in corridors of justice, it appears to not only have attracted new suitors but also sparked divisions among a section of Mt Kenya leaders, with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua giving it new traction.

Reflecting on his push for a robust and inclusive resource-sharing formula, Mr Wamatangi, who was Kiambu Senator for 10 years, has warned leaders against exploiting it for political expediency, saying, the cause “whose intentions are to ensure equity and fairness” in revenue sharing is not a Mt Kenya affair.

“Things [revenue allocation] were not well when we joined parliament in 2013. Were it not for my one-man-one-vote-one-shilling push in 2015, [Mt Kenya] region and other populous counties would not have received sufficient funding for development to the level we are today. I am glad that this debate is gaining traction again since this is a conversation that we cannot run away from,” he told the Nation.

He said that, while some counties were getting an allocation of up to Sh21,000 per person annually, Kiambu and other populous counties were getting between Sh1,700 and Sh3,000.

Raila supports One Man, One Vote, One Shilling approach to revenue sharing

On April 22, 2016, Mr Wamatangi, then a senator, filed a petition at the High Court in Milimani, Nairobi, challenging the formula that was being employed by the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) to share out funds to counties on grounds that it was unfair to populous counties.

Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, Mr Wamatangi told Justice Joseph Onguto the CRA had failed to recommend a proper formula and demanded a review to ensure fairness and equity.

At the time, he received little support from the region’s leaders, even as the CRA and lawmakers from other regions fought him.

Dr Richard Bosire, who teaches political science at the University of Nairobi, called for “a sober conversation” on the issue and middle ground established.

“The country needs to agree on a revenue-sharing formula that is fair and just. Those who bring more revenue to public coffers need to be motivated. We need not demonise either side but agree on the way forward,” he told the Nation in an interview.

Mr Wamatangi was pushing to have funds disbursed based on population and credible census data, given that CRA was relying on the 2009 figures.

“We were able to increase Kiambu's equitable share from Sh6.4 billion in 2013 to Sh13.5 billion in 2022. Other counties with large populations such as Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Bungoma, Mombasa, also benefited,” the governor said.

The CRA is currently implementing the third-generation revenue sharing formula, which considers health services (17 percent), agricultural index (10 percent), population (18 percent), basic share index ( 20 percent), land mass (eight percent), rural access (eight percent), and poverty index (14 percent).

Mr Wamatangi is also demanding that Kiambu County be granted six additional constituencies for fairness and equity in the distribution of resources and representation.

Seeking to appease disaffected residents of counties with sparse populations and huge land mass, Mr Gachagua has clarified that the conversation on the one-man, one-vote, one-shilling revenue-sharing formula is not meant to oppress or deter development in those regions.

Among the Mt Kenya leaders who have been at the forefront of attacking the Deputy President are Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wa, and Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri, who argue that his quest is short-sighted and detrimental to Kenya's future.

But Dr Bosire said those opposing the call are not genuine.

“Kenya is a capitalist state that must reward hard work. The country needs to come up with an agreeable formula that helps to fairly distribute the resources,” the university don said.

Incidentally, the one-man, one-vote, one-shilling agenda was a key plank of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which was being pushed by then-President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Oding. Mr Gachagua strongly opposed the push at the time as did a slew of politicians who were allied to then-Deputy President William Ruto.