How Ruto coaxed Mt Kenya leaders into dropping ‘one man, one shilling, one vote’ campaign

William Ruto

President William Ruto gestures as he interacted with wananchi at Karatina town in Nyeri County during his five-day tour of the Mountain on August 5, 2023.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Mt Kenya leaders have been persuaded by President William Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, to drop the demand for ‘one man, one shilling, one vote’ formula in resource allocation.

The development is to avert the tension the campaign is sowing and a counter argument that the region after all would not reap prime benefits as had been hyped after analysis of current and projected population figures.

In May, the region’s leaders confronted Dr Ruto demanding implementation of the pledge, but the Head of State did not respond to the prodding at a forum in Murang’a. While it was expected the campaign would feature during his recent weeklong tour of Mt Kenya, it didn’t.

The Saturday Nation has learnt of behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by the two leaders to ensure the visit was not overshadowed by bickering over the issue.

Area leaders who were invited for a one-on-one with Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua at the Sagana State Lodge were quickly rebuffed when they attempted to introduce the debate. It did not subsequently feature in rallies during the five-day tour of Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties.

President's feast: Sagana State Lodge opens its doors to Nyeri residents
Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | NMG

“Our two leaders—the President and his deputy—by utterances and body language showed us clearly that they are not ready to entertain this debate. We were referred to a State House economic adviser who was present for an explanation why the debate was not tenable,” one of the MPs told the Saturday Nation.

Adviser’s take

The Saturday Nation was shown a paper authored by the President’s economic adviser David Ndii that was presented to the leaders as a resource to help them understand why their demands were invalid.

“Politics of one man, one shilling seeks to favour the development of areas having abundant natural resources, good land and rainfall, transport and power facilities, and people receptive to, and active in, development,” it reads.

“The history of inequitable sharing of the national cake is a highly emotive and divisive issue…to a point that we need a credible authoritative team of honest brokers to navigate the country through it.”

The paper states that the overarching principle to be used as a basis for revenue allocation is spelt out in Article 201(b) of the Constitution, which states that “the public finance system shall promote an equitable society,” and 201(b) (iii), which says “expenditure shall promote the equitable development of the country, including by making special provisions for marginalised groups and areas.”

Equitable society

The paper says equitable society and equitable development are defined by outcomes such as income per person, life expectancy, school enrolment and access to healthcare.

“While development disparities may persist for different reasons, no community or part of Kenya is entitled to more development than the other using public money. Any distribution of public resources, which portends reinforcing these disparities, or creating new ones, is unconstitutional,” Dr Ndii writes.

He blames the debate on the Agikuyu community’s “supremacist ideology and hegemonic agenda… Tyranny of numbers, domination of the weak by the strong, and ethnic superiority complexes, this is not an option”.

Dr Ndii did not respond to the Saturday Nation’s inquiries about the paper. But as a pointer that a decision had been made to quell the debate, one of Mr Gachagua’s aides told the Saturday Nation that “this is a useless debate…after we did our maths we came to realise that other counties outside (the) Mt Kenya region will stand to gain more benefits while we could end up losing part of the resources we are getting.”

On Thursday, Murang'a Senator Joe Nyutu, one of the leaders who had confronted the President in May telling him implementation of the campaign promise was dear to the region, expressed the sudden change of heart. Mr Nyutu now says the ‘one man, one shilling, one vote’ campaign is a grave matter and upon evaluation needs more consultations.

“We remain committed to the national good about resource allocation formulae where all are winners. This is what we agreed with the President. He assured us he will remain true to the issue of using all funding fronts that will ensure no region gets disadvantaged,” he said.

Ruto Mt Kenya Tour

President William Ruto greets Pastor Dorcas Rigathi at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri ahead of a thanksgiving service on August 6, 2023. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

On May 19, Mr Nyutu had reignited the ‘one man, one shilling, one vote’ debate when he told the President that the issue is a source of matrimonial strife in Mt Kenya.

“We would love to have many children in our marriages, but every time we, men, attempt to sweet-talk our wives on the need to add one more, they protest that we are not conscious of the disparities in resource allocation,” he said then.

Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri also says the discussion had been broached “and we all agreed to give the President and his team ample time to get our justice right.”

“Even Rome was not built in a day...we just have to be patient, all our desires will be fulfilled. We have evidence that the President is genuine, means well and has a workable plan,” says the former Agriculture Cabinet secretary.


Kieni MP Njoroge Wainaina said: “We interacted with the President and his technical teams in utter openness; desks had been established for us to seek answers over any issue affecting us.

“What we agreed on is to support the President to first stabilise the economy and raise more funds for development. We cannot share what has not been produced. Patience will do us good.

“The President assured us that we will come to appreciate the commitment he has to equity in developing all regions commensurate with all factors at play.”

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria says one alternative route to ensure more resources was to increase the percentage of National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) for bursaries from the current 35 to 60 per cent, and increase allocation by the exchequer to at least five per cent, from the current 2.5 per cent.

“We have noted bursaries to be the most problematic in Mt Kenya region counties. This is the alternative route of first mitigating the problem we have as we fix the economy to raise more cash for development.”

Nyandarua Senator John Methu on Monday told Inooro TV “we have come to a point where we must rethink this debate…It is a complex one that needs a lot of thought.”

He said “this debate is about playing around with figures and at the end of the day they will not help us…instead, we need to adopt more options in navigating this big issue and we are open to more explorations of how to get the resources that we need.”

If the ‘one man, one shilling’ principle were to be implemented, the biggest gainers would be Nairobi with its 4.4 million people, Kiambu (2.4 million), Nakuru (2.2 million), Kakamega (1.9 million), Bungoma (1.7 million), Meru (1.56 million), Kilifi (1.5 million), Machakos (1.4 million), Kisii (1.3 million), Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Narok and Kisumu (1.2 million each), and Migori, Murang’a, Homa Bay, Kitui and Kajiado with (1.1 million each).

Of the 18 counties, only three are from the Mt Kenya region, adding a twist to the raging scramble for resources and demarcation of new electoral units.

Other Mt Kenya regions with less than one million in population are Nyeri (759,000), Nyandarua (638, 000), Embu (609,000), Kirinyaga (610,000), Laikipia (519,000) and Tharaka Nithi (393,000).

Population projections don’t favour the region much either.

Kirinyaga residents line up to welcome President Ruto

Of the 13 counties that account for more than half of the projected six million increase in Kenya’s population in the next seven years, only Kiambu from the region features.

The 12 other devolved units are Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kilifi, Mandera, Wajir, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado and Migori.

The new estimates for the next census suggest a population growth dip in the hitherto populous Mt Kenya and a surge in traditionally sparsely populated regions such as northern Kenya, which is projected to record a population surge.

Current formula

Under the current revenue sharing formula, population covers 45 per cent, basic equal share (25 per cent), poverty (20 per cent), land area (8.0 per cent) and fiscal responsibility (2.0 per cent).

The Gachagua aide who spoke to the Saturday Nation alluded to this fact having been brought up in the discussion at the Sagana State Lodge. “That is why we are dissuading the few misguided leaders in the Mountain to kick this debate out of their minds because should they push it through and it comes to effect, they would still stand relegated to low resource and opportunity allocations,” the aide said.

Even the most vocal proponents of the debate like Council of Governors Chairperson Anne Waiguru, who also is Kirinyaga governor, Murang’a governor Irungu Kang’ata, his Kiambu counterpart Kimani Wamatangi and Nominated MP Sabina Chege did not mention a word about the campaign during the tour.

Mr Wamatangi said: “I am the one who launched this debate when, in a court petition 163 of 2016 before Justice Joseph Ongutu, I prayed that the ‘one man, one shilling’ principle of resource allocation be adopted by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).”

However, he had issued a disclaimer in his push by saying that “this debate should not be made to be a push in favour of the Mt Kenya region but the whole country’s equity”.

Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba, who has been vowing that “this formula must be enacted by the close of 2027,” boycotted the President’s tour and did not attend the closed-door meeting at the Sagana State Lodge.


But she, too, told Inooro TV that “personally I have been warned that I started talking too soon about the ‘one man, one shilling, one vote’ maxim…I had declared it as an agenda immediately we were sworn in but was told to go easy on it…But I want to give my assurance that this debate must sail through and the formula will apply before we go to vote in 2027”.

Until the latest change of heart, Mt Kenya locals had made this campaign a priority. Speaking on April 9 during the homecoming party for Juja MP George Koimburi at Toll Primary School, leaders said it was time to revise the resource allocation formula.

“We are the ones with a high population accounting for 39 per cent of the census register…The National Treasury, the Commission of Revenue Allocation and the Controller of Budget should stand warned that we will no longer accept baseline maths in resource allocation. It is one man, one shilling or nothing,” Mr Koimburi said.

Ruiru MP Simon King’ara recalled a recent incident where a parent died in a stampede for bursary allocation.

The leaders argued the region was getting a raw deal where on average area people get Sh4,000 as opposed to regions that have low populations getting between Sh20,000 and Sh50,000.