AfricaPress-Kenya: There is growing disquiet in Nyanza and Western because of ‘few’ additional constituencies the regions will get if the Constitutional of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, sails through in the referendum.
The Bill, popularly referred to as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill, proposes to increase the number of constituencies from 290 to 360.
The proposed law will see Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley stronghold getting the lion’s share of the electoral areas followed by Nairobi, Central and Coast.
The Bill, that was passed by the county assemblies and has been forwarded to Parliament, indicates that Rift Valley will get 23 new constituencies, Nairobi 12, Central Kenya 11 and Coast 10.
Nyanza region will get four more constituencies, Western region five, Lower Eastern four and North Eastern one.
The proposal in the BBI Bill has made leaders in Nyanza and Western regions complain that they got the short end of the stick.
An assurance by ODM leader Raila Odinga that the matter would be rectified later has not calmed their nerves.
On February 8, Raila told a meeting of Luo Nyanza leaders and other delegates at Ciala Resort in Kisumu that more constituencies are planned for the region.
Raila sought to quell murmurs over few constituencies, telling the participants: “We had planned to create additional constituencies but the delay was occasioned by the delay in publishing them in the Kenya Gazette.”
Last last month, during the funeral of the mother of Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, Raila said the county will also receive an extra constituency.
“The new constituency was left out as among the 70 new constituencies. We will have it in the Bill,” he said.
?Despite indications that the BBI Bill will easily be endorsed at the referendum in Nyanza and Western, local leaders and residents have said the document apportions ‘few’ additional constituencies to the region dominated by the Luos and Luhyias.
In Busia, the Iteso community leaders demanded an extra constituency when Raila toured the area prior to the Matungu parliamentary by-election in Kakamega County.
During the burial of the late Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama, Nyamira leaders also asked the opposition boss about the constituencies.
In Kuria, local leaders say they will reject the BBI Bill for failing to give them their own county or more constituencies.
Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama says the community was first ignored in 2010, and now in 2020.
The BBI did not add any new county to the existing 47 as requested by other minority communities.
Recently, Interior and National Coordination Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i told Kisii leaders that he will push for the creation of two new constituencies in Nyamira and in Kisii.
“We did a petition. I sit at the policy making table. I will not abandon you.
“Allow us to continue with the talks. There are better things to come,” he said.
However, South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro says leaders promising new constituencies should open up and explain at what stage they will be included in the BBI Bill.
Bobasi MP Innocent Obiri, who has been fighting to have his constituency split, says the proponents of the BBI Bill had failed to convince locals on how the document will benefit them.
In Migori, Deputy Governor Nelson Mahanga Mwita has vowed to push for Kuria community’s defection from ODM if the community is not considered and rewarded in the BBI Bill.
Luo MPs have been guarded in push for new constituencies for fear of antagonising Raila who enjoys a near-fanatical support in Nyanza.
The formation of the electoral areas will also see more money go to the counties hosting them through the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) that the Bill wants entrenched in the Constitution.
Each constituency gets more than Sh100 million as NG-CDF annually apart from the other devolved funds. The new Bill also recommends the establishment of Ward Development Fund.
Some of the legislators and other leaders from Nyanza have been raising concerns, albeit in low tones, on how the Bill was prepared and agreed upon with only a few extra constituencies.
The 10 counties in Nyanza and Western regions unanimously and speedily voted for the BBI Bill, a move that signalled the resolve of the assemblies in Raila, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetangula strongholds to pass the Bill.
Siaya County assembly was the first to approve the Bill on February 3, followed by Kisumu less than a week later. Busia, Kisii, Homa Bay and Vihiga followed suit.
The larger Rift Valley currently has 76 constituencies and will get 23 additional ones as proposed in BBI Bill. The Mt Kenya counties of Kiambu, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi have 50 constituencies.
The region has the second highest number of constituencies after Rift Valley.
Nyanza has 42 constituencies, Western 33, North Eastern 18, Nairobi 17, while Isiolo and Marsabit have six seats.
Political pundits believe the number of MPs will be crucial following the intended return of the back and front benches in Parliament and appointment of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretaries.
The referendum Bill proposes that a PM should be an elected MP and a leader of largest party or coalition of parties in Parliament.