CASH IMPASSE

Orengo: Uhuru to blame for cash formula stalemate

Orengo's claims have exposed the Uhuru-Raila gap in revenue battle.

In Summary

• Minority leader James Orengo, on Tuesday laid the blame for the stalemate at the President's feet. 

• The impasse threatens to plunge the counties into a cash crisis and disrupt their operations. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta after delivering the State of the Nation address to Parliament on March 26, 2015. With him are Deputy President William Ruto, Senators James Orengo, Hassan Omar, Moses Wetang’ula and Taveta MP Naomi Shaban
President Uhuru Kenyatta after delivering the State of the Nation address to Parliament on March 26, 2015. With him are Deputy President William Ruto, Senators James Orengo, Hassan Omar, Moses Wetang’ula and Taveta MP Naomi Shaban
Image: FILE

 

ODM has protested President Uhuru Kenyatta’s "unavailability" to resolve the standoff in the Senate over a formula to share Sh316 billion allocated to counties.

The impasse threatens to plunge the counties into a cash crisis and disrupt their operations. 

 

Minority leader James Orengo on Tuesday laid the blame for the stalemate at the President's feet. 

“The thing President Mwai Kibaki did probably no other president would be able to do. I am not ashamed of saying that. I am advising the current President to be more accessible for him to enable us to solve these problems,” Orengo told senators.

He went on: “We would not have been here if he was more accessible, I'm telling you without being afraid. I'm not saying it for me, I’m saying it for the country.”

The remarks followed a storm in the Senate on Tuesday that saw senators reject a last-ditch effort to adjourn the session to build consensus.

Orengo pleaded with senators to postpone the sitting to give room for broad-based consensus and avert a protracted deadlock after sharp differences emerged.

However, senators voted 40 against seven to defeat his adjournment motion.

Senators later shot down another push by Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata to postpone for two years the effective date of the formula proposed by the Finance and Budget Committee. Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru chairs the team.

 

Orengo's remarks exposed the possibility the two handshake partners – ODM leader Raila Odinga and Uhuru – might not have had a common position.

Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said Orengo’s assertion confirmed that the push for the disputed formula never came from the President.

“Orengo, in just a stroke of a pen, just confirmed that this agenda has not come from him (the President). They were having difficulty confirming that this is his agenda. There was no involvement of the President,” he said.

ODM national treasurer Timothy Bosire said the status quo should remain until the country gets a better strategy that does not leave any county behind.

“Since Independence, development has been inequitable across the country. A team of experts should be formed and look at that carefully before any formula is brought forward,” the ex-Kitutu Masaba MP said.

Much money needs to be allocated to address historical injustices so that all counties across the country can be brought at par, he said.

“There is need to look at that formula so that we can bring every region across the country up to speed in terms of development,” Bosire said.

On Wednesday, Kang’ata, who is the President’s point man in the Senate, dismissed Orengo’s comments. He said that the formula “is the government’s agenda.”

“You cannot see a chief whip moving a motion, if it is his own motion. They only bring government business. So, anytime you see a chief whip doing anything, he is doing it on behalf of the government,” Kang'ata reckoned.

Earlier, Kang'ata promised to discipline senators who voted against the government.

"There were some senators who are in positions of leadership in the party who decided on their own motion to go against the official position of the government. We expect some remedial action to be taken against them," he said.

Kang'ata said once a senator who occupies a leadership post votes against the government's position, he or she must expect some sanctions.

"I have no doubt that very soon we shall be cracking the whip of the party against those who went against the official government business that was before the House," the Murang'a Senator added.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja had moved an amendment to the committee's formula to give counties losing money Sh9.2 billion to cushion them.

However, the debate was cut short after Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar adjourned the sitting at 9.05pm before members could take a vote.

Senators from sparsely populated and marginalised counties had joined forces, upsetting Uhuru-Raila allies in the counties’ revenue formula battle.

The lawmakers ganged up and overwhelmingly rejected Orengo's motion to adjourn debate.

The team also combined efforts to marshal a simple majority to throw away Kang'ata's bid to defer the formula for two years.

The amendments were strongly backed by Orengo, the Minority Leader and a key Raila ally, and Senate Majority Leader Samwel Poghisio.

All Mt Kenya senators save for Tharaka Nithi's Kithure Kindiki voted for Irungu's proposal.

Senators from Raila's Luo Nyanza voted for Irungu's amendments that lost narrowly by 22 against 25 votes on Tuesday night.

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri and his Nyamira counterpart Okong'o Omogeni broke ranks with Raila and rejected the amendments.   

 

(edited by o. owino)