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Kang’ata, Poghisio confront biggest test in dispute over county cash plan

Thursday July 30 2020
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Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PATRICK LANG'AT

It was not a good day in office for newly installed Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata on Tuesday when Jubilee-leaning members backed by some in the Opposition scored a Round One victory against the proposed county revenue sharing formula.

For Mr Poghisio and Mr Kang’ata, the third basis formula — which will determine how much each of the 47 counties receive in the next five years — was their first biggest assignment after the purge of Deputy President William Ruto-leaning senators in the House leadership.

Mr Poghisio, the West Pokot senator (Kanu), replaced his Elgeyo-Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen while Murang’a’s Kang’ata took the position of vocal Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika with the axe also falling on Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka-Nithi).

LOST BID TO DEFER

Mr Kang’ata, who had on Monday chaired a meeting of the senators from both sides of the divide that support the formula, lost a bid to defer the implementation of the formula to 2022.

So bad was Mr Kang’ata and Mr Poghisio’s day in the office that new entrants in the House leadership, their deputies — Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) and Deputy Majority Whip Farhiya Ali (nominated) —voted against the motion.

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The decision angered Mr Kang’ata, who is now promising sanctions against his colleagues for what he says was going against the “government position.”

"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," he said in an interview with Citizen TV.

Led by the eloquent duo of Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jr, a group of 27 senators, clad in ties branded in national colours, trooped to the Senate, winning over others, including former Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.

SHOOT DOWN FORMULA

And Wednesday, the Jubilee senators, who voted against the Kang’ata motion and have vowed to shoot down the formula, had a message to the Majority Whip: Bring it on.

“We want to tell Kang’ata just one thing: His opinion or that of the Majority Leader cannot and is not the party position. I was a former chairman of The National Alliance (TNA) and I know that for a party position, you have to caucus, discuss, exchange ideas, and then adopt an agreed consensus. Only then can you say you have a party position,” Mr Sakaja told Nation Wednesday.

He went on: “On committees and being de-whipped, we tell him: These positions are not a favour. We are in them to work and we work for the people who elected us. If they want to remove us from them, let them go ahead.”

Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, whose county is one of the 19 mostly in North Eastern and Coast that will lose in the third basis formula as proposed by the Senate Finance and Budget Committee, said yesterday his position had not wavered.

"I will vote one hundred times over and over against any motion from whatever quarters if such motion is detrimental to the interests and welfare of Tharaka-Nithi County which I represent, as well as millions of Kenyans who look up to national constitutionally mandated institutions like the Senate to protect the public interest and guard the unity of our nation.

“I am more than ready to pay any price required of me to remain faithful and true to my mandate,” Prof Kindiki said.

VENTILATE ISSUES

Narok Senator Ledama Ole kina asked Mr Kang’ata to allow the lawmakers space to ventilate the issues without the threats of being de-whipped.

“When it comes to issues of legislation, let us leave it to legislators and therefore we will not be intimidated by Mr Kang’ata,” Mr Olekina, who is part of the Sakaja, Kilonzo Jr group opposing the formula, said.

Some of the top losers in the new formula — who will shed off funds this year when the formula is applied compared to the allocation they received last year —are Wajir (Sh1.3 billion), Kwale (Sh1.213 billion), Mandera (Sh1.326 billion), Kilifi (Sh1.192 billion), and Marsabit (Sh1.024 billion).

Others are Narok (Sh938 million), Isiolo (Sh879 million), Garissa (Sh605 million), Mombasa (Sh513 million), Tana River (Sh458 million), Samburu (Sh450 million), Turkana (Sh450 million), Taita-Taveta (Sh388 million), Tharaka-Nithi (Sh371 million), Vihiga (Sh361 million), Makueni (Sh360 million), Nyamira (Sh226 million), and Kitui (Sh219 million).

The top gainers are Nandi (Sh1.4 billion), Uasin Gishu (Sh1.3 billion), Nakuru (Sh1.3 billion), Kakamega (Sh997 million), Kiambu (Sh986 million), Bungoma (Sh837 million), Kirinyaga (Sh779 million), West Pokot (Sh777 million), and Bungoma (Sh772 million).

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