I will rally my MPs to pass Nadco Bills, President Ruto says

William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses the media at Lake Naivasha Resort on the third day of the National Executive retreat on February 21, 2024.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has assured opposition leader Raila Odinga that he will pull all the strings in rallying his ruling alliance’s lawmakers to pass the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) Bills currently before Parliament.

The President issued the assurance at State House when he formally received the report from the dialogue team moments after Mr Odinga was also officially handed the document at his Capitol Hill office.

The nine bills stemming from the report have made radical proposals, including a seven-year term for senators as well as establishment of plum offices of Prime Minister and Official Leader of Opposition. It also spells doom for errant elected leaders by proposing 90 days in settling expulsion from parties.

President Ruto said that he is willing to convene a Parliamentary Group meeting of his Kenya Kwanza alliance to rally the lawmakers to back and vote for the Bills when brought for passage.

“I want to give you my assurance that I will do my best to deliver on the agreement you have made. We will mobilise our Members of Parliament,” said President Ruto.

He added, “I am happy that the outstanding issue of gender –both sides have agreed over it. This time, we have an opportunity to deliver on this constitutional imperative. I am very confident that this time, we will have it right and women will take up their position.”

In his address, Mr Odinga claimed that there are forces within and outside Parliament that are plotting to frustrate implementation of the report, demanding that the various legislative proposals currently before Parliament be implemented without alterations.

“As was the case with the process, this document has enemies from reactionary forces across the political divide, inside and outside Parliament. It requires vigilance. We need to look back and reflect on the circumstances that led to the dialogue and whether we really want to take Kenya back there,” said Mr Odinga.

He added, “Our position is that the report, including the various legislative proposals attendant to it, should be implemented without any alterations. We also feel strongly that the remaining processes be fast-tracked in Parliament. On our part we commit to act in good faith and support this process to its logical conclusion.”

At State House, President Ruto received the report while in the company of his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, who was erstwhile critical of the dialogue. At one point he chided Mr Odinga that the dialogue would take him nowhere, stating that “nothing will come out of those talks.”

Mr Gachagua Friday admitted before the team led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah that he was skeptical of the talks when they were initiated by President Ruto and Mr Odinga.

But he told the team that he is happy with the outcome of the talks, noting that it promises a lasting solution to a vicious cycle of disputed elections in the country.

“I was a bit skeptical whether this report will see light of day. But I can say now we are very happy with the outcome. Never again shall we settle our political differences in the streets of Nairobi and other towns,” said Mr Gachagua.

Democratic Action Party of (DAP-K) party leader Eugene Wamalwa skipped both the events. Mr Wamalwa was the one in the 10-member team that rejected the NADCO report on the basis that it did not address the high cost of living, which was the main reason for the anti-government protests.

Although Mr Musyoka told the press that Mr Wamalwa was absent with an apology, the former Defence Cabinet Secretary yesterday wrote to the two clerks of Parliament rejecting sitting allowances.

“Yesterday, I received an invitation from your officers to deliver my bank details to facilitate payment of my sitting allowances as a member of NADCO.

As you are aware, I had already publicly declined to sign the said report after a serious disagreement arose over the failure to address the fundamental issue of reduction of the cost of living,” said Mr Wamalwa in the letter obtained by Saturday Nation.

“I also declined to accept any payments from the said process. This is therefore, to formally notify you that having already made my above position public, I neither have the intention nor the inclination to change my position and/or receive the said monies, which I request to be returned to the exchequer,” he said in the letter.

In September, Nation exclusively reported how the talks team was seeking for Sh106 million to facilitate the Bomas talks. A big chunk of the figure was to go into allowances, conference facilities and refreshment.

According to the document that was prepared by the team, Co-chairs Mr Musyoka and Mr Ichung’wah were entitled to Sh50,000 per sitting while the other eight members were each entitled to Sh40,000 per sitting. They attended more than 20 sittings. The technical committee was seeking Sh25,000 for every sitting. Nation cannot independently verify if the budget was approved.