LION'S SHARE

Central deserves more constituencies

In Summary
  • The one man one shilling the Mt Kenya region wanted is coming through.
  • The supposed losers should mobilise, register, and vote to grow their numbers to attract more funds.

There were times – the morning after – when newspaper headlines would predictably shout ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. The annual fiscal statement attracted such rap attention as Kenyans followed on TV, and newspaper sales would soar.

were consumers of goods whose prices had gone down. Losers were consumers of goods whose prices had gone up. Years of price controls are gone, but there are still echoes in the proposed constitutional, legislative and policy trajectory.

The Building Bridges Initiative wasn’t supposed to create winners and losers. Critics have always belaboured this to lower BBI’s appeal. They wanted, and still want, a consensual referendum. Much of this criticism was high on partisan interests, and low, arguably, on the national good.

 

The initial critics of BBI are deflated after the launch of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020. The formal start of signature collection for the expected referendum has not attracted acrimony like in the weeks preceding the launch.

Similarly, the early BBI converts, especially on social media, seem surprised, especially with the way counties will be sharing proposed constituencies. A constituency comes with about Sh145 million annually for the National Government Constituency Development Fund. MPs are the patrons of the fund.

There is math to the turn of events. The proposed distribution of the 70 new constituencies, and their development implications, may make the difference in the outcome of the plebiscite.

The Tangatanga faction of Jubilee poisoned public opinion on the 2018 post-election amity between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga. They have always regarded BBI, a product of the handshake, as a threat to their patron DP William Ruto’s presidential ambition. But now the MPs, including those from Rift Valley, realise their regions shall take a huge share of those constituencies.

Social media opinion pundits see these as wins for Mt Kenya region, the most populous base of the Jubilee regime. It was the region most disgruntled with the UhuRuto regime. They had expected to reap hugely from the regime. Through BBI, Uhuru’s presidency has given Central a cushion against political uncertainty.

Tea, potatoes, rice and milk, agricultural produce from the central highlands, have also been guaranteed better production incentive and prices. Price guarantees were some Tangatanga MPs’ precondition for supporting the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020. Some of the most querulous MPs have not talked, a week after the launch of signature collection.

Social media opinion pundits see these as wins for Mt Kenya region, the most populous base of the Jubilee regime. It was the region most disgruntled with the UhuRuto regime. They had expected to reap hugely from the regime. Through BBI, Uhuru’s presidency has given Central a cushion against political uncertainty.

The former Nyanza province shall take four of the 70 new constituencies in what social media opinion peddlers categorise as a loss for the bedrock support of BBI principal Raila. But the context of the distribution of the new constituencies goes beyond easy wins and losses.

 

There is math to the sharing: the densely populated Kiambu county, Nairobi’s bedroom, shall have six of the new constituencies. This is the second-highest share for any county after Nairobi’s harvest of 12.

The Jubilee-leaning cosmopolitan Nakuru takes five, with other Mt Kenya counties Murang’a, Kirinyaga, and Kikuyu diaspora Laikipia, getting one each. Their total take is much higher than other counties outside the Jubilee base.

ODM counties count of new constituencies is lower because the numbers fall short of Kiambu’s 2,500,000 demographic advantage. Homa Bay already had eight constituencies against a population of 1,131,950, with average 141,000 people per constituency. Migori has eight constituencies for its 1,116,436 people, with about 140,000 per constituency.

Kisumu had seven for a population of 1,155,574, about 144,000 people per constituencies. Kisumu shall get one more constituency. Siaya has six constituencies for its 993,183 people, making an average 142,000 per constituency. Siaya shall get one more constituency after the 2021 referendum.

The demographic math of the proposed constituencies is verifiable. The one man one shilling the region wanted is coming through. Social media view of winners and losers has a cure. The supposed losers should mobilise, register, and vote to grow their numbers to attract more funds.