Kenya: Elgeyo Marakwet the Third to Reject BBI Bill

The Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly on Tuesday became the third to shoot down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment Bill, after Baringo and Nandi.

Seventeen MCAs rejected the Bill while 15 voted supported it and one abstained in a roll call vote.

The assembly's Committee on Justice and Administration, which had been tasked with the responsibility of holding public hearings, tabled a report rejecting the Bill.

Kapyego MCA Evans Limo, the committee's chair, said that three out of four sub-counties rejected the Bill in the public participation phase, a scenario he said informed most MCAs' decision during the vote.

"Members of the public made a sound decision and we believe the assembly members arrived at their decisions after considering all factors. It was a democratic process which involved all the parties," Mr Limo said.

There were allegations that MCAs were pressured to vote the way they did.

Regarding this, the chair said, "We have been called many names because of our stand by people with certain political affiliations. We received many calls from people trying to persuade us to take a different stand but we stayed put."

MCAs' reasons

Ward representatives who opposed the Bill said the county has suffered in the hands of the Jubilee administration so they have no confidence that counties will get the proposed allocation of 35 per cent of national revenue.

"Arror and Kimwarer dams collapsed under the watch of the same people promising us money. What a hypocritical stand. There are also thousands of locals who either lost jobs or were not compensated when the Kimwarer fluorspar mines collapsed due to lack of funding," said Soy South MCA Jonah Tanui.

Those who supported the Bill said the higher funds allocation will help the county to save money.

"This is one of the counties which have been complaining about small allocations from the national government. With a 35 per cent share, we will move from Sh3 billion to Sh7 billion per year," said Cherangany Chebororwa MCA Wilson Cheboi.

"What we need are leaders who represent our people. The committee's report is misleading."

The youth

Majority of Jubilee Party's nominated MCAs in Elgeyo Marakwet voted in favour of the Bill, some saying it resonates well with the community's needs.

"The issue of the student loans repayment grace period and tax holidays for young entrepreneurs, as proposed in the Bill, is the best thing that ever happened to the youth of this country," said Nominated MCA Lawi Kibire, who represents the youth.

"This Bill gives young people an opportunity to flourish in business."

Assembly Speaker Philemon Sabulei lauded MCAs for a process devoid of chaos or exchanges of words.

"Today's voting shows how democratically we have grown as a country. All the parties had very strong points to support their stands. Unlike all the other counties, which almost totally rejected or supported the Bill, ours has been very tolerant," said the Speaker.

Baringo and Nandi

In Baringo County, the MCAs said they rejected the proposed constitutional amendments to spite Senator Gideon Moi, whom they term an "absentee leader" in the county.

The shooting down of the bill was largely seen as a slap in the face of former President Daniel arap Moi's son and political scion, who is embroiled in a political tug-of-war with Deputy President William Ruto over the vote-rich Rift Valley.

In Nandi County, lawmakers led by Kipkaren MCA Milka Chumba said they voted in line with the people's position.

Regarding the allocation of more funds to counties, she said the 15 per cent share has been difficult to implement so there is no hope for a higher allocation of 35 per cent of national revenue.


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