THE STAR 02/18/2021
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has pleaded with Mt Kenya region to support the Building Bridges Initiative, saying it has nothing to do with the presidential ambitions of ODM chief Raila Odinga.
Kibicho said it is not automatic that if Kenya goes to a referendum and the bill is passed, Raila will be President.
“People should separate BBI from the former PM. Raila is not BBI and it’s not written anywhere that if BBI passes Raila will become President,” he said on Radio Africa Group's Gukena FM morning show on Wednesday.
Kibicho said the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will address the region’s representation and resource allocation complaints once and for all.
“We should support BBI whether it’s Raila or whoever supporting it. Once we pass the BBI then we can think about who will be President,” he said. “BBI is not a presidential election.”
Kibicho said he thinks the bill is unpopular in parts of Mt Kenya region because former Prime Minister Raila, its biggest supporter, ran against the region’s candidates thrice.
Raila nearly vanquished ex-President Mwai Kibaki in 2007 and twice mounted a tough contest against President Uhuru Kenyatta — in 2013 and 2017— with the latter being nullified by the Supreme Court.
But Kibicho said Raila and Uhuru are now playing for the same team.
“But now we’re on the same side and we should remove the old wars. We should not become like that Nigerian whose house was on fire, but when he saw a rat running out, he stopped fighting the fire and instead ran after the rat to kill it,” he explained.
According to the PS, Mt Kenya has been getting the short end of the stick in resource allocation and representation in Parliament.
He said while some counties manage to pay fees for students in high school and colleges and even send others abroad, most students in Mt Kenya get about Sh2,000 bursary every year.
Kibicho said during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s meeting with Mt Kenya MCAs on January 29 in Sagana, he asked if any MCA gave more than Sh2,000 school bursary per student.
“None raised their hands. He told them in some parts of Kenya some people get Sh100,000. Some counties take their children abroad but in Mt Kenya you can’t even educate one in a village school.”
“When you look at Tom Mboya he used to take people from Nyanza and take them to US that’s why there are many professors there. But look at what our people are being promised,” Kibicho said referring to the wheelbarrow movement led by Deputy President William Ruto.
He said the movement was about scattering the voice of Mt Kenya.
“The singer [Joseph] Kamaru said we should not be scattered like droppings of monkeys. If we are scattered, we won’t speak in one voice at the negotiation table, we will always speak in divided voices.”
Kibicho explained the region is poorly represented in Parliament, despite its huge population.
The BBI Bill gives Mt Kenya region 12 additional constituencies, making it one of the biggest beneficiaries.
Nakuru county, also largely dominated by Kikuyu speakers, gets additional five constituencies.
The proposed amendments if endorsed in a referendum will see at least 35 per cent of national revenue sent to the counties up from the current 15 per cent.
“What’s wrong when Kiambu you’re getting six extra seats that will bring an extra Sh1 billion? What’s wrong if shareable revenue increases? What’s wrong if tea, coffee are protected?” he told hosts Njoki and Kajim in the morning interview.
Kibicho also defended the expanded Executive, saying it was important to end the winner-take-all elections.
“Except 2002, all other elections had conflicts. What’s the reason? Kenyans believe if your person is not in government you won’t get help. That’s not true but they believe so. BBI wants to expand the Executive so that all Kenyans feel included and so that the presidency is not a matter of do or die,” he said.
If the Bill is passed, the Executive will be expanded to have the President, Deputy President, Prime Minister and two deputy prime ministers.
The Prime Minister will be a Member of Parliament and leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the national assembly.
Kibicho said this will not be expensive to run because the added positions will be occupied by people who are already parliamentarians.
“The PM is an MP with only added responsibility as head of government business. Picking ministers from MPs will cut the cost by half because they will be earning their MP salaries.”
Kibicho also said the Bill protects the region’s cash crops and dairy farming.
Without mentioning names, he also warned against the region becoming a political battlefield.
He said the President asked leaders to take the focus away from the region. “The US and other countries do not allow their countries to become battlefields.
He (Uhuru) wanted to tell us to take away the political battlefield from Mt Kenya because you suffer the effects. When people demonstrate, it’s your economy that’s destroyed,” he said.