11 February 2019

Kenya: Fight for Billions - Worried Central Kenya Leaders in 'Return Home' Campaign

There is growing political unease in Central Kenya over the upcoming census with leaders intensifying a campaign to encourage residents living outside the region to return home for the count.

The vital exercise will have a hand in the proposed changes to the revenue allocation formula that prioritises service delivery as well as in the upcoming electoral boundaries review exercise.

This has caused sleepless nights for politicians, who are keen not to lose resources and clout.

Recently, a section of leaders from the region led by Maina Kamanda resolved to mobilise residents for the census to ensure that the boundary review should not disadvantage the region by reducing the number of electoral units such as county, constituency or ward.

On Saturday, Nyandarua Women Representative Faith Gitau and her Murang'a counterpart Wanjiru Chege revived the debate by urging residents who live in Nairobi to return to their villages for the census, but received a backlash from Starehe MP Charles Njagua.

INCREASED ALLOCATION

Speaking during a birthday party of anti-jigger crusader Stanley Kamau, Ms Gitau said that, should residents who live outside their rural counties return home for the census, they will greatly contribute to increased allocation of resources.

She claimed that the region has been allocated meagre resources because constituents abandoned their homes affecting its population size, which determines revenue allocation.

"Some regions ferry their people back home during census and this makes them benefit from huge allocation despite having fewer people than Central," said Ms Gitau.

Ms Chege said that people should go back to their places of origin for counting.

"Even Jesus Christ and his parents had to go back to their home of origin for counting and this process should not be misconstrued with voter registration," Ms Chege said.

The sentiments did not augur well with Mr Njagua who accused the MPs of trying to incite residents of Nairobi to deplete the city's population.

INVESTED IN CITY

He said a considerable number of people who live in Nairobi came from central region and have invested heavily in the city where they should be counted "to safeguard and protect their wealth and property".

"I vehemently oppose the idea of urging people originally from Central to leave Nairobi and go to their villages for census. This will affect their interests back in the city," he said.

Mathioya MP Peter Kimari supported Ms Chege and Ms Gitau's sentiments.

The calls come days after leaders in Laikipia urged residents working outside the county to return home during the census.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said that, during the 2009 exercise, most counties were short-changed as thousands of residents were counted outside their homes.

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