• The region is DP William Ruto’s backyard and he has called the BBI process a waste of time and money but declined to lead the 'no' campaign.
• West Pokot became the first Rift Valley county to pass the Bill, surprising Ruto's camp because MCAs were believed to be his allies.
Intense, high-level lobbying by President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga is underway to convince Rift Valley assemblies to pass the BBI Bill.
Both men have made phone calls to county leaders and their surrogates on the ground are pushing for passage.
The region of 14 counties is Deputy President William Ruto’s backyard and he has called the BBI process a waste of time and money. Covid-19 and joblessness are more urgent problems, he has said.
Most MCAs support Ruto but many are divided on BBI backed by the government and state machinery.
The West Pokot assembly became the first in the region to pass the Bill, surprising Ruto's camp because MCAs were believed to be his allies.
They denied voting because of outside influence.
“We voted for the bill on the account of its benefits for our region and the country," one MCA said.
West Pokot has 15 MCAs from Kanu but all the 28 who were present voted for the BBI bill.
Trans Nzoia assembly became the second in the region to pass the Bill after 33 MCAs voted for it. Only two lawmakers - Evans Chesang of Chepchoina and Joshua Birir of Kiptoror - voted no. One MCA abstained.
Intense lobbying is also going on in Samburu, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana. Passage would jolt expectations in Ruto's camp.
“We are just urging MCAs to be reasonable and consider the benefits in the BBI bill instead of acting with emotions and political interests," Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said.
MCAs in Uasin Gishu and Nandi, which are Ruto’s strongholds, were still considering the bill but sources said many were opposed.
Most of the assemblies are expected to decide by the end of this week.
Pressure has been mounting on the MCAs allied to Ruto to pass the bill so the region can benefit from more money, more constituencies and stronger devolution.
Businessman Bundotich Kiprop, also known as Buzeki, has welcomed the passage of the bill. He says MCAs must delink it from 2022 politics and the DP's interests.
“If the BBI is passed, Uasin Gishu will get an extra Sh300 million and three more constituencies among many other benefits. Those who want to oppose, especially MCAs, must surely have better alternatives," Buzeki said.
He said BBI is not about Ruto or any other individual and MCAs should not be narrow-minded and reject it.
Children from poor families will benefit from bigger bursaries and other support, he said. MCAs who vote no should pay fees for poor children, Buzeki said.
Uasin Gishu and Nandi MCAs have warned Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju to stop intimidating and forcing them to pass the bill.
Last week, Tuju wrote to Jubilee MCAs instructing them to support the bill but many said they would vote independently after pubic participation input.
(Edited by V. Graham)