Push to have former Prime Minister Raila Odinga secure a slot in President William Ruto’s government is back on the radar after a petition was filed in Parliament.
During the National Assembly’s proceedings on Wednesday, November 23, Dadaab Member of Parliament Farah Maalim confirmed that he received a petition from a Kenyan, Victor Okul, seeking to have the Office of the Opposition Leader incorporated with the Executive arm of Government.
In his petition, Okul further advocated for the introduction of the Office of Prime Minister and that of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The petitioner argued that the introduction of the three offices would dismantle the winner-takes-all system hence ensure equitable distribution of resources across the country.
“My office has received a petition from Victor Okul calling for amendments of the Constitution to introduce the offices of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.
“The petitioner is convinced that what he terms as winners takes all system is regressive particularly in light of the fact that the establishment of the office of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Official opposition,” announced Maalim.
Soon after, a storm erupted dividing lawmakers right in the middle. A section argued that the petition was an attempt to introduce the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) back in the game.
BBI was a brainchild of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga – now the official opposition leader and head of Azimio la Umoja Coalition – and former Head of State Uhuru Kenyatta.
Part of the proposals from the failed initiative included the expansion of the National Assembly membership by increasing constituencies as well as the introduction of the PM post, through the expansion of the executive.
“This is someone trying to bring back BBI through the back door which we will not accept. As a country, we must focus on what is more important in terms of dealing with the public,” opposed Mukurweini MP John Kaguchia.
His Nyando counterpart Jared Okelo concurred claiming that the seats would balloon the public wage bill and was an attempt to award seats to dynasties.
“Those in power today, and I do not know where that petition is coming from, did indicate that intent was to create offices for dynasties. Today we are talking about the same that ought to have been cured a long time ago,” stated Okelo
Other lawmakers, however, supported the petition and challenged the house to grant the petitioner a chance to make his case.
“I think what we need to do is that the Committee on Petitions needs to invite as many stakeholders as possible so that Kenyans can come to this important session, discuss with the committee and it will be able to guide this house. Let Kenyans debate it and come up with a solution,” stated Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu.
President Ruto, however, ruled out the possibility of a handshake with the opposition on many occasions explaining that he is a believer in a government that is clear of its mandate and one that has no interference from the opposition.
“The people voted for me because they want a government that has checks and balances,” Ruto told the press in mid-August.