, LAMU, Kenya Dec 18 – Deputy President William Ruto has opposed the proposed merger of counties, saying the move would take Kenya backwards.
In a what is seen as a rejoinder to calls for a referendum by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Ruto said Kenyans made a decision to have a decentralized system of government, and discussions on the folding of some counties would not be supported.
“We are focused on making devolution work better by channeling more resources to counties. We cannot fault devolution so that we go back to a centralized system of government,” he said.
He spoke in Lamu County on Tuesday in the company of at least 15 Coastal MPs during the opening of Pate Girls Secondary School.
Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori noted that devolution had opened up even the remotest parts of Kenya, and any suggestion to merge counties would be injurious to the public.
Dori said leaders need to put their energies on ensuring devolution works rather than fighting it.
Several MPs among them Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Shariff Athman (Lamu East), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Kassim Ali Sawa (Matuga), Jones Mlolwa (Voi) and Michael Kingi (Magarini) said they will oppose any move to take Kenya back to an “old system of governance that had centralized resources in Nairobi”.
Other leaders who accompanied the Deputy President were Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Ali Wario (Bura), Charles Kanyi (Starehe), Paul Katana (Kaloleni), Ben Tayari (Kinango), Gertrude Mbeyu (Women Rep, Kilifi), Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Ruweida Obbo (Women Rep, Lamu) and Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu Senator).
The leaders said they did not back plans to reduce the number of MCA’s as being proposed by some leaders.
They argued that the country cannot go into a referendum to create a position of Prime Minister to serve an individual.
The leaders said there was need for the country to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report for Kenyans to be united.
They said the move would help resolve the perpetual land problems facing the region.
“If we want to build bridges in this country, land problems should be addressed,” said Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa.
Bura MP Ali Wario said if Kenya must undergo the much-talked about constitutional review, then the land issues in the country, particularly the Coastal region, should be given prominence.
By resolving land problems, the leaders said ownership of the critical factor of production would enable individuals to access capital from financial institutions to support their businesses.
They urged Kenyans not to support the Handshake if it segregates others.
“Why is it that those in opposition who work with Ruto are being expelled from the Orange Democratic party?” Posed Wario, adding “the creation of the Prime Minister’s position is meant for some few individuals to serve personal interests not to serve Kenyans”.
Kingi said as Coast MPs, they had unanimously resolved to back the Deputy President due to his development record.
He noted that the region had grown tired of playing peripheral politics that added no value to the lives of people.
“Ruto understands the problems of the poor. He knows every challenge every corner of this country faces. He therefore stands the best chance to come up with solutions to those sticky issues,” said Tayari.
Starehe MP said Ruto was a man with the poor man’s needs at heart, and as such, “he is the right successor of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.”
The Deputy President asked the Ministry of Environment to lift the ban on mangrove harvesting.
He, however, urged the ministry of environment and residents to ensure that the harvesting is done in a sustainable manner.
Ruto later laid foundation for the construction of Mpeketoni Girls Secondary School and held a public baraza at Umoja Primary School in Lamu West Constituency.