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Second-term governors look to BBI for political future

Saturday January 11 2020

Ifmis

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (left) and his deputy Mwangi wa Iria address a press briefing at their offices in Mombasa on May 10, 2019. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNG’U GACHANE
By NDUNG’U GACHANE
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 NYAMBEGA GISESA
By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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Details of a meeting held at a Kilifi resort last Monday by governors serving their second and final term can be revealed today.

OPTIONS LIMITED

Sources privy to the deliberations at the meeting held at the Silver Palms Resort said that the governors in attendance assessed the options available to them once they finish their terms in 2022.

Top on the agenda was how the proposals contained in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report could be used to secure their futures.

“The main agenda on the table was what the BBI report has to offer in terms of them (second-term governors) remaining in power one way or the other after the next general elections,” said the source close to a governor from the Nyanza region.

“Many of them are concerned that while they cannot seek elective positions in lesser offices such as MP or even senator, there are also very limited options vertically, not all of them can successfully gun for the presidency,” the source added.

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SUPER GOVERNOR

The sources, who sought anonymity because they were not authorised to reveal the details of the meeting, disclosed that a majority of the governors were of the opinion that only the BBI could offer them a “soft landing” through the creation of more elective or appointive positions in the next constitutional dispensation.

The governors are said to have been keen on a proposal in the BBI report regarding the establishment of national, regional and county governments.

Under the arrangement, several counties will be lumped together to form a regional government with their own elected “super governor” who would oversee the running of the counties. However, the county governments as currently constituted would retain their identity and leadership structure. 

About 20 second-term governors attended the meeting, which was coordinated by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also the chairperson of the Council of Governors, and hosted by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

SO DISCREET

The meeting was so discreet that many of the governors did not have the agenda beforehand.

“Yes, it is true we held the meeting in Kilifi. Nearly all the second-term governors attended with only two or three sending apologies. We discussed matters of national importance but agreed that we will not share them with the media until we fine-tune them in the coming weeks,” Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua told the Saturday Nation. He maintained that the day-long meeting discussed the “state of the nation and the gains made by devolution since 2013”.

Mr Oparanya, for his part, said the meeting was unofficial.

“It was nothing official. We were just bonding as the New Year begins,” Mr Oparanya replied in a short text message when asked about the meeting.

BBI DELEGATES

“We looked into … how the proposed constitutional amendments could create the position of regional governors to continue with our vision on our respective regions since we will have fulfilled our agenda for our respective counties,” one of the county bosses confided in the Saturday Nation.

The county bosses also proposed that the expected constitutional changes include a provision for a retirement package for governors, arguing that it is the only way they can be assured of receiving pension and other benefits after leaving office.

The governors are expected to push for these changes through countrywide BBI events that they agreed to support. They have already set the ball rolling by planning various BBI delegates meetings across the country.

On Friday, Kisii County’s James Ongwae led fellow governors from Nyanza in hosting the first BBI delegates meeting at the Kisii Golf Club. Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at Nzoia Guest House in Bungoma County followed by another at Bukhungu Stadium on January 18.

REGISTER PARTIES

The governors also discussed the possibility of forming political alliances ahead of the 2022 elections. Already, Dr Mutua and Muranga Governor Mwangi wa Iria have registered political parties. Dr Mutua has previously announced his 2022 presidential bid while Mr Iria has announced his plans with the Civic Renewal Party (CRP).

“Some people have been wondering where I will go after the expiry of my term, I wish to tell them that I am not going anywhere. I will remain active in politics and through my CRP party, which will field candidates across the country,” Mr Iria told mourners during a burial ceremony last week.

The governors are also said to have discussed the challenge posed by Justice Mumbi Ngugi’s ruling barring governors from accessing their offices once they are charged with corruption.

The meeting comes in the wake of heightened succession politics in the country, with cracks emerging in the ruling Jubilee Party.

REMAIN NEUTRAL

As Tangatanga and Kieleweke politics rage, the governors seem to have chosen to sit on the fence, keeping their cards close to their chests and letting senators and MPs to hog the limelight. While some have remained “neutral” to ostensibly avoid being targeted for their closeness to Deputy President William Ruto, others have remained silent waiting for direction from President Uhuru Kenyatta.​