What you need to know:
- An increase in the number of constituencies and the introduction of Ward Development Fund appeared to have been the motivating factors for the approval of the Bill.
Members of the Mandera County Assembly may have been forced by circumstances to pass the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment Bill on Tuesday.
Thirty four MCAs voted in favour of the Bill while one member abstained and 13 were absent.
The ward representatives passed the Bill even though it seemed during the debate that they intended to shoot it down. Some admitted that they changed their minds a few hours to the debate.
An increase in the number of constituencies and the introduction of Ward Development Fund appeared to have been the motivating factors for the approval of the Bill.
There are proposals for the addition of a constituency in Mandera and the retention of two others that were at risk of being scrapped.
Lafey and Banisa constituencies were to be scrapped for not meeting the population threshold in the 2019 population census.
“The addition of the extra constituency in Mandera is good since it will reduce disputes arising from clan dominance in some constituencies,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Yusuf, who chairs the assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee.
“This will provide a lasting solution while enhancing inclusivity and greater representation.”
Mr Yusuf further said that the committee observed that the ward fund will spur development at the grassroots level across Mandera.
“After manipulation of the 2019 population census, we were at risk of losing two constituencies but the BBI has addressed that and is giving one more. We have to vote for the bill,” he said.
Residents of Mandera had questioned the MCAs’ delay in taking a stand on the Bill.
The MCAs had been accused of using the process to negotiate for contracts from the executive but Mr Yussuf denied the allegation.
Asked about the delay in voting, Speaker Mohamed Adan Khalif said their approach was within the law and that they needed to consider the people’s views.
“We are allowed by the Constitution to do our work. We were still within our stipulated time because we were given three months to work on the Bill,” he said.
“We have a duty so we had to go to the people we represent - to listen to them before making a decision,” he said.
Mr Khalif added that the assembly does not exist to please some quarters but to factor public opinion into every decision as part of service to the people.
Regarding the time it took to vote, Mr Yusuf also maintained that the MCAs operated within the law.
“We have been accused of delaying this process but we were following the law, We had to do all that is dictated by the law in concluding the matter,” he said.
Last minute decisions
On the floor of the House, Rhamu MCA Kulow Alio Guyow said he changed his stand from ‘no’ to ‘yes’.
“I have realised that the extra constituency will create many job opportunities for our people. We shall have extra wards and for that reason, I have changed my position,” he said.
Mr Yakub Hassan rallied fellow MCAs to support the Bill on grounds that an increase in funding to counties, from 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the national revenue, will improve many lives.
Mandera will get an extra Sh6 billion, up from Sh10 billion, once the law is amended.
Ms Shankaron Sheikh Ibrahim cited the introduction of the Youth Commission, saying, “Youths finally have a place to take their concerns and get what rightfully belongs to them. Their issues will now be well tackled,” she said.
Takaba MCA Bishar Maalim said the BBI will ensure political leaders achieve their missions and visions.
“Our pledges will be achieved with the introduction of the ward fund. We shall be independent since there will be no more begging of the executive to initiate some projects,” he said.
While opposing the bill, Fino MCA Saad Sheikh Ahmed wondered where the national government will get the additional money it has promised counties.
“We need to be realistic and open-minded. Where is the national government going to get extra funds to give counties when the current figure has proven difficult to distribute?”
He left the assembly before voting began a few minutes past 5pm.
Sala MCA and Security committee chair Abdirashid Maalim Osman said the assembly held deliberations with Governor Ali Roba on the BBI issue.
“We consulted our governor and he urged us to pass the Bill. We have done it with his blessings,” he said.
Mr Osman described the addition of a constituency as an honour for Mandera.
“Introduction of the ward fund is the best thing for Mandera since everyone will now enjoy fruits of devolution,” he said.
The Mandera assembly was the 43rd to pass the Bill. Three counties - Baringo, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet - have rejected it.