, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The eight Governors from The National Alliance (TNA) have pulled out of the “pesa mashinani’ referendum call by the Council of Governors after intense pressure.
In a meeting held in Nairobi, the eight Governors present agreed to rally behind party leader President Uhuru Kenyatta in opposing the calls for a referendum.
“I am one of the members of the Council of Governors so they will hear from me and I have already expressed my concern to the chair on the political position this has taken. My president has said no, who am I to say yes when my president has said no?” posed Kiambu Governor William Kabogo.
His sentiments were echoed by TNA Secretary General Onyango Oloo who said: “As you know the President of the country has reiterated the position of the party on the issue of referendum… we do not support the referendum as a party.”
Party Chairman Johnson Sakaja said TNA noted the need to increase funding in counties. He however blamed the differing opinions on lack of consultation and dialogue among members of the party.
He was however insistent that they had neither been forced nor threatened to shelve the referendum ambition as there were many other avenues for resolving underlying issues saying: “Is the referendum the only way to get that money to mashinani (grassroots)? my answer to that question is no. It is the last resort. I am saying the last referendum push is ill-timed, because it has political connotations,” he explained.
Speaking on behalf of the Governors after the meeting, Kirinyaga County Governor Joseph Ndathi said they were adopting a legislative method to address their concerns. “The referendum can be painful, so we are going to go for amendment of legislation rather than the expensive route of changing the Constitution through a referendum.”
The meeting which brought together Governors, Members of Parliament, leaders from the MCAs caucus and party officials from The National Alliance was also meant to conduct basic housekeeping including the planned recruitment of young Kenyans into the party and how the ruling party can strengthen its position in the next General Election scheduled for 2017.
In the past week, Senate Majority Leader Kindiki Kithure and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen have made public remarks warning Governors supporting the referendum call that they will be kicked out come the next General Election.
The statements that did not go down well with Kabogo who urged them to communicate with them rather than in public.
“We have people who are flying all over dictating terms of engagement with everyone in the likes of Kindiki in the likes Murkomen, this is not dialogue we need to speak and talk to each other.”
What was rather interesting was that only one Senator, Kirinyaga Senator Muriuki Karue out of the 11 Senators elected through The National Alliance was present during the meeting; others did not give their reasons for attending.
At the same time, Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua in a message posted on his Facebook page said he had decided to pull out of the referendum campaign. Gachagua is a member of the Grand National Union party.
Gachagua was also the Chairman of the Governor’s committee analyzing the 10 referendum issues identified by Governors in their campaign for a referendum.
Later on Wednesday, 10 other Governors said they have never supported the referendum calls while others indicated they had pulled out of the initiative.
They are the Governors of Mandera (URP) Uasin Gishu (URP), Elgeyo Marakwet (URP), Baringo (URP) Samburu (URP), West Pokot (KANU), Bungoma (NEW FORD KENYA), Narok (URP), Migori (PDP) and Isiolo (URP).
The withdrawal of the Governors deals a blow to the ambitious referendum bid whose future is now uncertain.
TNA now intends to hold a meeting with members of the larger Jubilee coalition to resolve the pending in-house issues.