Kenya Kwanza MPs endorse Raila Odinga’s quest for top AU seat

President William Ruto

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah (right) and his Senate counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot (left) arrive for the three-day National Executive Retreat and Parliamentary Group forum in Naivasha.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Kenya Kwanza MPs on Monday endorsed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission chairperson seat, terming it a win for Kenya should he emerge victorious.

Although the issue was not part of the formal government agenda at the joint National Executive Retreat and Parliamentary Group consultative meeting in Naivasha, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah said they would back Mr Odinga, noting that he is an African statesman.

“Whenever any Kenyan is nominated for or applies for a job anywhere in the world, we as Kenyans are obligated to support him. He is not going there as ODM leader but as a Kenyan and we support his bid,” Mr Ichung’wah told the ‘Nation’.

The Kikuyu MP said should Mr Odinga win, it would be a major accomplishment.

“If he has offered himself for that international job, we shall treat him as a Kenyan and support him,” he said.

The commission chairperson is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once.

The chairperson’s functions include overall responsibility for the commission’s administration and finances, promoting and popularising the AU’s objectives and enhancing its performance.

It also involves consulting and coordinating with key stakeholders like member states, and development partners, appointing and managing commission staff, acting as a depository for all AU treaties and legal instruments.

Meanwhile, Parliament has committed to expedite the passing of the Affordable Housing Bill by the end of the month following a meeting with President William Ruto on Monday.

Mr Ichung’wah and his Senate counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot are confident they will marshal enough numbers to approve the Bill.

The National Assembly last Thursday started debate on the Bill whose second reading is slated for today.

MPs rejected the proposal by the government for persons seeking houses under the affordable housing plan to deposit 10 per cent of the value.

Mr Ichung’wah, who is sponsoring the Bill, said the housing programme will proceed as planned.

Mr Cheruiyot added: “We’re hopeful by Friday the Bill will commence its life in the Senate for subsequent approval.”

President Ruto yesterday said the housing programme would continue, adding it is the right decision given that many Kenyans, especially the jobless youth, would benefit.

“I do want to say that we will implement the affordable housing programme by whatever means possible. But it will be implemented,” he said.

Dr Ruto also hit out at his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

“They wasted time on reggae. They are actually wondering if the housing project is possible,” the President said during the retreat in Naivasha.

The Executive and the Legislature also pledged to work together to fast-track the country’s development as captured in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

Senator Cheruiyot said yesterday’s meeting resolved to have greater cooperation between the two arms of government.

“There have been various areas of disconnect and many government programmes that the Legislature felt they need to be better apprised of to speak to our constituents. As Parliament leadership, we have been tasked to come up with a working group to help us build better synergy with the Executive to close these gaps,” Mr Cheruiyot said.

“The Executive also had certain requests to us. For example, we’ve been asked not to interfere too much with their operations through sudden summons that can be avoided and addressed through other channels.”

Last year, lawmakers boycotted their induction seminar in Mombasa for days protesting the delayed release of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) kitty.

The protests ended after the Treasury sent the first tranche of Sh4 billion.

Yesterday, Treasury officials committed to follow a disbursement schedule that is realistically aligned to revenue projections and actual collections.