The Building Bridges Initiative appeared on shaky grounds yesterday after allies of ODM leader Raila Odinga claimed there was a scheme to throw him under the bus.
Key Raila confidants said that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies want to blackmail the ODM leader by projecting the BBI process as a Raila project.
Part of the blackmail plan, according to Raila’s lieutenants, is to attempt to forcefully push through the contentious new revenue sharing formula, which proposes major funding cuts to counties in Raila’s bases.
“The strategy is to finally throw Raila under the bus and get the person they want. The formula is too revolutionary and disturbing,” said a senior ODM member who asked not to be named.
For instance, the official said, the regions that should gain are the ones that have been marginalised for decades.
The Star has established that Raila held a virtual meeting with a key ODM party organ, the Central Management Committee on Friday, where a decision was made to reject the revenue formula.
During the meeting Raila told his troops not to accept the new revenue formula, setting the stage for a showdown with Kenyatta’s team.
“The ODM leader is angry and completely unhappy with the new formula. He has given us instructions to reject the formula on Tuesday,” said a senior ODM official.
The Star has learnt that ODM leaders prefer a gradual implementation of the new formula. They believe the changes might have huge political ramifications for their party if approved on Tuesday.
Some Deputy President William Ruto’s support bases of Rift Valley will gain in the proposed formula as will Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard.
The move, according to Raila’s camp would dramatically neutralise Raila’s influence in his traditional support turfs and improve Ruto’s fortunes.
Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata’s threat of “no new revenue sharing formula no BBI” laid bare the length to which Kenyatta’s team is prepared to go to get its goal.
Kang’ata’s ultimatum over the revenue formula standoff has been interpreted as a part of the plan to sabotage Raila’s political ideals.
The Murang’a senator, a key Uhuru ally, said on Saturday that the president’s camp will abandon the BBI process if the Senate shoots down the new revenue allocation formula which pegs the distribution on population.
“For us, we have made the decision that on Tuesday no passage of the formula no BBI ,” Kang’ata said, reaffirming Mt Kenya position of “one man one shilling”.
ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi called for the shelving of the proposed revenue sharing formula to give room for more consultation.
Mudavadi said the current formula should be used to disburse revenue to counties since further delays to release funds could hurt the mwananchi.
“There should be no further delays since we have an existing formula and then have more consolations on the disputed method. Go with the existing formula and then you will have time to sort out the finer details,” he told senators
On Sunday, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire told the Star that Kang’ata’s move to attack the BBI process by linking it to Raila was “most unfortunate, regrettable and misleading.”
“BBI was a national project agreed on by two distinct leaders who are meant to carry the aspirations of the country. The nine issues identified are not Raila issues, they are Kenyan issues. Threatening Raila on those issues is misleading Kenyans,” Bosire said.
Bosire warned that ODM will stand up and resist what he termed as “attempts to claw back or tinker with the democratic and devolution gains achieved so far”.
“What is coming out is that, through the so-called revenue allocation formula, major political machinations and programmes are being entertained towards destroying political structure in the name of parties by some quarters,” Bosire said.
Bosire said the contentious revenue sharing formula and the BBI process must be seen as two different issues and not be mixed up to achieve political ends to destroy other parties.
“If Kang’ata was meant to say that by some quarter, then that is most unfortunate. If he spoke on his own then he is misinformed and the wrong person to guide the country on a major issue in his new position. It is regrettable,” the ex-Kitutu Masaba MP said.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula said the sentiments by Kang’ata were personal and do not reflect President Uhuru Kenyatta’s view on the matter.
The ANC lawmaker, however, warned that the formula will have a huge bearing on the passage of the BBI report in case of a referendum.
“This thing should be suspended; they should go with the old formula to avoid plunging the counties into a cash crisis. This is a very emotive issue, they need to build consensus. It will affect the BBI because part of the BBI says 35 per cent will go to counties because it is based on numbers. If you reject this one, it will be emotive to pass BBI,” Savula said on phone.
“They are presenting their emotional views. Kang’ata was expressing his emotions. I don’t think it came from the President.”
DP Ruto’s allies seem to be enjoying the grandstanding in the Uhuru and Raila camps.
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, who lost her Majority Whip position said Uhuru should carry his own cross.
“Some guy kicked out his wife and kids and moved in another woman and her kids. Now he needs the family’s support to accomplish a task. His ‘new family’ has refused to help. Should the old family hold their noses and help him, Watch the show unfold or show him the middle finger,” she tweeted.
Former Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen who was sacked alongside Kihika said Kang’ata has equated the proposed formula to BBI and failure to pass it renders BBI meaningless.
“The density principle that is the running theme in the BBI report is the same principle applied in the formula. If the formula as proposed fails then it is a precursor to the failure of BBI, Kang’ata’s logic is this; you can’t help us in the formula you can’t help us in BBI,” Murkomen said.
This is the first time Raila’s allies have taken the President’s camp head on after over two years of political bliss following the March 2018 handshake between the two leaders.
Raila has become Uhuru’s most trusted political ally and has helped the President remove his DP from the centre of state power as the succession battle shapes up.
However, analysts say the new battlefront could break the camaraderie between Uhuru and Raila and scuttle the BBI process which appears to be a major political vehicle to position the ODM leader ahead of 2022.
The Senate will convene on Tuesday in a fifth push to pass the new formula proposed by the Commission of Revenue Allocation on how counties should share the Sh316 billion from the national government.
Meanwhile, the Kikuyu Council of Elders has said it is closely watching leaders as they debate the new formula proposed for the allocation of revenue to devolved units.
The elders said leaders who will oppose the proposed method should forget getting the support of Central Kenya come 2022 elections.
“All we need is equitable sharing of national resources. Anybody who does not stand with us in sharing the national cake based on population has no moral right to come to Kikuyus to ask for anything,” declared KCE secretary general Peter Munga.