CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

UPDATE: Kenya headed for referendum as 15 more counties pass BBI Bill on Tuesday

In Summary

• This surpasses the magic number of 24 counties which was the threshold required to pass the proposed changes to send it to the next stage - Parliament en route to a referendum.

• The MCAs unanimously approved the Bill during sessions held on Tuesday morning

The country is now headed for a referendum after more than 24 county assemblies approved the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Bungoma, Narok, Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, Lamu, Garissa, Mombasa, Murang'a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri have become the latest county assemblies to approve the Bill.

Others are Taita Taveta, Nyamira, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Meru, Makueni, Taita Taveta, Machakos. Kwale, Migori, Kiambu and Bomet counties.

This pushes to 35, the number of counties that have far passed the BBI Bill.

This surpasses the magic number of 24 counties which was the threshold required to pass the proposed changes to send it to the next stage - Parliament en route to a referendum.

The MCAs unanimously approved the Bill during sessions held on Tuesday morning.

In Kitui, the ward reps passed the bill during a seating presided over by Speaker George Ndotto.

The motion was moved by Majority leader Peter Kilonzo and seconded by minority leader Alex Nganga.

The Bill was tabled by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Boniface Akosi and seconded by Rosslyn Katibi.

Kitui assembly speaker George Ndotto signs the certificate of approval after MCAs passed the BBI bill on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Kitui assembly speaker George Ndotto signs the certificate of approval after MCAs passed the BBI bill on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Image: MUSEMBI NZENGU

In Kakamega, the bill was unanimously passed after the MCAs after a 30-minutes debate. The approval came just a day after the MCs returned from a one day bonding session in Kisumu on Monday evening.

They had earlier threatened to shoot down the bill demanding they be given Sh 500, 000 each on top of the car grand. They boycotted public participation on Friday.

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and nominated senator Naomi Shiyonga sat through the session.

Oparanya said that passage of the bill in the county assemblies was the most critical stage for the bill.

“The national assembly is just a formality because they have no role on the Bill. Whether they pass or reject it, I will still process to the referendum,” Oparanya said.

In Murang'a all 53 MCAs in Murang'a voted for the bill. They were all present.

In Narok, all the 47 members of the county assembly including elected and nominated unanimously voted in support of the bill on Tuesday morning.

This means all the Maa counties have passed the Bill after Kajiado, Laikipia and Samburu.

In Nyeri, the public participation report was tabled by the legal affairs committee chair Julia Wanjiku on Tuesday morning and its debate started at around 10 am.

Wanjiku said most members of the public supported it as it guaranteed the existence of three out of six protected constituencies in the county.

They include Othaya, Mukurweini and Tetu.

In Makueni, 47 MCAs were present and only one absent. The motion was sponsored by the chair of ad hoc committee that was formed for the purpose of BBI -Alfred Mutuku - the MCA for Nguumo Ward.

"Increase in revenue collection to counties shall improve the livelihoods of people in the grass root," said Mutuku .

In Taita Taveta, the Bill was  tabled by Majority Leader Harris Keke and seconded by Mwatate MCA Abednego Mwanjala.

Deputy Speaker Crispus Tondoo said passing the Building Bridges Initiative Amendment Bill was in line with the county leader’s move to highly safeguard the county’s constituencies that are facing scrapping for not meeting the required population quota.

In Machakos county, the motion was moved by the chairman of the Justice and legal affairs Moffat Maitha, who is the MCA for Matungulu West.

All the59 MCAs from different political parties supported and passed the bill amid thunderous cheers and jubilation in the House.

Addressing the MCAs shortly after the passing the bill, speaker Florence Mwangangi praised them for the move, saying the BBl will not only benefit the MCAs but all Kenyans.

In Garissa, despite earlier fears that some goons were allegedly planning to disrupt the house sitting, the exercise went on smoothly with no hiccups. There was heavy police presence in and around the assembly.

Majority of the MCAs overwhelmingly voted for the Bill with only four out of 50 opposing the document.

Addressing the press, the assembly speaker Ibrahim Abass said the MCAs unanimously approved the Bill after one hour of debating and voting.

Abass said the MCAs felt convicted to pass the Bill for three main reasons among them additional allocation of resources to the counties and financial autonomy of the assembly.

Garissa governor Ali Korane addressing the press after the BBI bill was passed./STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Garissa governor Ali Korane addressing the press after the BBI bill was passed./STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The other reason was anchoring of the Ward development fund into the constitution, Abass added.

“I never seen the house united this much. The fact that the chair of the BBI taskforce was our late senator who before his demise appended his signature on the document was another very strong for the MCAs to back it,” Abass said.

Governor Ali Korane who was present in the house said ‘as leaders from the area and the region at large we are happy the BBI bill has gone through against the naysayers who have always opposed everything and anything’.

“They have always tried to send the wrong signal that North Eastern is anti-BBI. The MCAs have today proved otherwise,” Korane said.

The governor challenged other Frontier Counties to hasten the process and support the BBI process noting that ‘they may have not gotten everything the proposed by their something they can from the document’.

Reports by John Nalianya, Hilton Otenyo, Musembi Nzengu, George Owiti, Praxedes Cheti, Stephen Astariko, Alice Waithera, Loise Macharia, Eutycas Muchiri, Kiplagat Kirui, Solomon Muingi, Veronica Nthakyo and George Owiti.