William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto chats with MPs Kimani Ichungwah (Kikuyu) and Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) at a past event. 

| DPPS

William Ruto's allies now back BBI Plan B

What you need to know:

  • The Ruto-allied MPs, however, insisted that the parliamentary process should not result in a referendum.
  • Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, rubbished any possibility of having BBI proposals endorsed through Parliament. 

MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto have had a change of heart, promising to back Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposals if pro-President Uhuru Kenyatta legislators table it in Parliament.

Following the revelations of a planned move by pro-Uhuru MPs led by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni to cherry-pick some BBI proposals to ratify them through Parliament after the flop of the referendum route, Dr Ruto’s allies now say they can be persuaded to vote for what they said must be pro-mwananchi proposals.

These, they said, include a provision guaranteeing that at least 35 per cent of the national budget revenue goes to the counties each year, the setting aside of at least five per cent of counties’ budgets to the wards, as well as provisions touching on incentives for the youth, small and medium enterprises.

These, they argue, can be passed through the House with no need for a referendum.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, an ally of the DP, asked President Kenyatta to instruct National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya and his Senate counterpart Samuel Poghisio to push BBI proposals beneficial to Kenyans, arguing that Kenyans should not lose such benefits.

“I urge the President to simply call the Majority Leader and urge him to push through the Bill in the National Assembly. Article 203(2) of the Constitution sets out divisions of revenue between county and national governments. It sets the floor but not the ceiling. The President, therefore, needs to just urge his National Treasury Cabinet Secretary to double the allocation,” said Mr Kang’ata.

Bumula MP Mwambu Mabonga, another Ruto ally, said time was ripe for the parliamentary process. 

Creation of 70 constituencies

“Why spend billions to increase county allocations which can be done from the floor of the House? These are things that can be done through Parliament,” said Mr Mabonga. 

The Ruto-allied MPs, however, insisted that the parliamentary process should not result in a referendum, which they argue will be too expensive.

However, they said they support a proposal to include the creation of 70 additional constituencies, as well as those that want MPs appointed as Cabinet secretaries, both of which require a plebiscite to be adopted. 

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, a staunch ally of the DP, told the Nation that allowing Parliament to create the proposed 70 constituencies will be a panacea to the constituencies that risk being scrapped after failing the population criteria in the 2012 boundary review by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The 26 constituencies that were saved in 2012, but which face alterations in the next review are Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura, Galole, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya, Kangema, and Mathioya.

Others are Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga, Budalang’i, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku, and Mbeere North.

“There are things which do not need changing the Constitution, but just amendments, which require two-thirds in both the National Assembly and Senate, let them bring those proposals, we will support. Anything which will save the protected constituencies, if brought in the house, there is nobody who will oppose it,” said Mr Gachagua.

BBI proposals

The Mathira MP insists that the creation of the 70 constituencies does not require a referendum. 

“Creating extra constituencies is still possible by coming to Parliament. Even when they were increased from 210 to 290, there was no referendum. Unfortunately, the main agenda of this BBI was to expand the Executive, others were just escorting sweeteners so that they could craft the 2022 coalition,” said Mr Gachagua. 

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said MPs should have a chance to pass agreeable BBI proposals through Parliament. 

“Parliamentarians, people who have gone out to look for votes have a different way of looking at Kenyans than people who have been appointed by an individual. Ministers then would be more interactive than the current Cabinet secretaries and they are ‘Yes’ men. When we have them from Parliament, they are able to challenge the President on certain issues,” Mr Washiali said. 

He said the DP’s camp has never been against the BBI, saying that 80 percent of the proposals were good but the method that was used to get them is what they were against.

“We do not have any problem with proposals which will be beneficial to Kenyans. Let them isolate such clauses in the BBI and bring them to Parliament and we will support them,” added Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa.

However, Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, who was fired as Majority Leader in the National Assembly for associating with the DP, rubbished any possibility of having BBI proposals endorsed through Parliament. 

Petty and idle talk

Let it be on record that not even a totally new Bill to amend the Constitution under Article 256 of the Constitution akin to the BBI Bill can give life to the BBI. If there are such attempts and machinations in Parliament, it is pure hogwash,” said Mr Duale.

He described any attempts to get BBI through Parliament as “empty, petty and idle talk”.

“To restate the obvious, since the crafters of such attempts might need to hear it again to believe and wake up, the High Court and the Court of Appeal exhaustively and with finality made a determination on the unconstitutionality of the BBI Bill... That a day has 24 hours is as true as that BBI is dead,” said Mr Duale.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, an ally of the President who was a key player in the BBI process, yesterday told the Nation that Kenyans will have to forgo the benefits they were expecting from the initiative until in the future, citing time and the 2022 politics.

“If we are to follow what our Judiciary has decided, then they will have to go like that -- at least for the time being. I am nearly sure it can’t be done within the current period because of the political positioning that has already started taking place as various politicians plan for 2022. The immediacy of the election means we will not have an objective discourse in the House. Which is sad -- as we had some solid proposals in that document,” said Mr Wambugu. 

Isolated in government and staring at what would be an anti-establishment stab at the top in 2022, Dr Ruto said he could not support a process, which, he said, would introduce ‘a powerful imperial presidency' who controls the Legislature and Judiciary.

“If there was a much more dangerous constitutional change, it is the BBI because it was going to roll back all the gains we had. We fought for almost 30 years against an imperial presidency. The BBI was going to install the imperial presidency in a very unprecedented way,” Dr Ruto said.

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