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Increased revenue, BBI key issues in CoG vote

By Hillary Mageka
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
Governors address the media during a past meeting. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

Increased revenue to counties, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) project, and the 2022 succession politics are emerging a the key factors that will influence the election of the next Council of Governors (CoG) chairman set for Friday.

This even as intense lobbying to replace Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is ineligible to contest after serving for two terms got a notch higher.

Two other positions up for grabs are the whip and council vice-chairman held by Muranga Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and Makueni’s Prof Kivutha Kibwana respectively.

Governors will also pick chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of 11 technical committees.

Some of the committees include Human Resource and Labour, Finance and Economic Planning, Communication and ICT, Legal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations and Health.

Others are Agriculture, Infrastructure and Energy, Urban development and Lands, security and foreign relations, Trade Industry and Investment, resource mobilisation among others.

The new CoG leadership will assume office at a defining for the country, which is gearing towards a referendum to increase the allocation to counties among other changes envisioned in the BBI report.

The Friday elections have generated interest because of the clout and influence of the governors’ forum in national politics.

The election also comes amidst a war of words between National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and the council over delayed disbursement of funds to the counties.

 Allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are rolling up their sleeves for a battle with deputy president William Ruto and his supporters with both camps said to be scheming to sway the outcome of elections.

People Daily understands that Uhuru and Raila are said to be keen to get a CoG chair who will advance the handshake and BBI agenda with as much vigour as Oparanya.

Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana is the latest candidate to throw his hat in the ring to succeed Oparanya as CoG chair.

Godhana, who is a first term governor, in an interview on Sunday said the chairmanship’s position is rotational and it would only be fair if this time someone from the coast region bags it.

“This seat has not been given to Coast. It is only fair that other regions are given an opportunity.

This time there is someone who has volunteered. So people from the Coast need this chance,” the governor said.

“I am very eligible, in terms of qualification, I over qualify.”

However, Godhana will have to battle it out with his Kwale counterpart Salim Mvurya who is also interested in the same position.

Others said to be interested in succeeding Oparanya include James  Ongwae (Kisii), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni),  Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu)

Wa Iria who was seen as the frontrunner having served as Oparanya’s deputy quit the race yesterday allegedly to strategise on his 2022 presidential bid.

“I know people were expecting me to vie for this seat but I don’t have such intentions.

My objective and ambition is bigger and goes beyond being the head of the council and that is what I am going to pursue.”

He noted that the position requires a lot of commitment, and as such, he will not be able to serve his colleagues and Kenyans in that capacity while at the same time pursuing his presidential ambitions.

“We have given our best for those two terms and it’s time for others to take over the leadership of the council,” he said, insisting that other candidates who are eyeing the position should be given an opportunity to serve in the council.

He said he has been approached by several colleagues over the same but he has declined the request for his own reasons.

People Daily has established the race has now narrowed down to three from the previous list of six.

While Kibwana and Mandago are said to command sizeable support among the governors, Kisii governor James Ongwae is fats emerging as the choice of the handshake and BBI axis to take over from Oparanya.

Instructively, Both Kibwana and Mandago are perceived as belonging to the Ruto wing.

Sources within ODM told People Daily said the party will front Ongwae to succeed Oparanya, adding that negotiations were at an advanced stage to have him as the “handshake candidate”.

Party mandarins aware of the plan claim that Raila has a soft spot for Ongwae owing to his development record in Kisii.

Ongwae is also said to get along well with the President. 

Kisii county Director of Communications Isaac Ongiri however said that they were not aware on the ongoing negotiations at the moment.

“Should be there any development regarding the matter, then His Excellency the Governor will not hesitate to brief the public,” Ongiri told People Daily on phone.

With Ongwae gunning for the chairmanship, the Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o now remains the sole candidate for the position of the CoG Vice chairperson.

The position of chief whip, which is held by Kibwana, is being contested by John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi).

It is largely predicted that Ongwae with the backing of Uhuru-Raila axis will carry the day.

Most second-term governors are said to be fully behind Ongwae and so are those backing the BBI and those from the Lake Region Economic Bloc and Central Kenya Economic bloc.

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