Kenya: Kalonzo, Governors Face Off in Ukambani Over BBI Meetings

21 January 2020

A fresh political confrontation looms between governors from Ukambani region and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka over campaigns for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) have vowed to lead public a participation forum parallel the one being fronted by Mr Musyoka.

The county chiefs kicked off a series of their BBI campaigns meetings on Monday where they addressed the first joint rally in Kitui. The meeting brought together more than 4,000 grassroots opinion leaders drawn from all the county's 40 electoral wards.

GRASSROOTS LEADERS

Each ward brought about 100 leaders including village administrators, traders and religious leaders to the meeting which was held at the Kitui Stadium.

The three governors said they had settled on Mrs Ngilu as the coordinator of the BBI campaigns in Ukambani, and announced that they will be inviting President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga to their subsequent meetings.

In an apparent reference to Mr Musyoka's failure to attend the first two major BBI rallies in Kisii and Kakamega, Mrs Ngilu said some leaders are yet to make up their minds and give direction.

The governors accused Mr Musyoka of sympathising with those opposed to the BBI, citing his reluctance to convene a leaders' meeting since the report was launched early last month.

KALONZO MEETINGS

Mr Musyoka announced over the weekend that the first BBI rally for lower eastern region will be held at Wote market in Makueni on February 7. But the governors' have unveiled a schedule that will see them address meetings in every county before the end of January.

Governor Kibwana, a law professor, took the delegates through the document in a lecture that took about one hour, where he enumerated its various benefits to Kenyans.

"BBI provides that funds allocation to counties be increased to 35 per cent of national revenue and this means each county will have an annual allocation of more than double what they get currently," he said.

SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE

Governor Mutua, who was represented by his deputy Francis Maliti, addressed the gathering via telephone from abroad. He emphasised on the need for the Kamba community to speak with one voice.

Prof Kibwana said he will not attend the Wote BBI meeting being organised by the Wiper leadership as he has not been invited. He said he will be hosting his colleagues a week before the Wiper meeting.

"We've planned a series of joint rallies in Makueni and Machakos which will culminate in a major one on February 1 in Kitui to be addressed by Mr Odinga," he said.

GOVERNORS CAUTIONED

But several leaders have cautioned the governors against creating more political divisions while pushing for the public validation of the BBI report.

An MCA from Governor Mutua's Maendeleo Chap Chap party who did not want to be named said this is a moment for the governors to dialogue with all leaders even those whom they disagree with because the overriding spirit of the BBI is inclusivity.

The MCA said that every effort should be made to bring leaders of all political persuasions together.

Mwingi West MP Charles Nguna echoed these sentiments, criticising the governors "for defeating the very purpose of building bridges across the country".

"BBI is a national conversation to bring together all communities. It is wrong for the governors to use the public participation process to perpetuate political divisions and further polarise Ukambani region," Mr Nguna said.

The MP urged the governors to stop playing politics and set aside their differences and invite elected MPs to their meetings for the greater good of the country.

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