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Healing the rift: BBI exposes Kajiado’s opposing alliances

On the day Maa leaders decided to work on a united BBI proposal to be presented at the coming Narok rally, those in Kajiado North resolved to take their proposals straight to the BBI secretariat

By Jonathan Teikan

It took Raila Odinga’s intervention to bring Maa leaders together and form a united front on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

With the February 22 date for holding a BBI rally in Narok fast approaching, it would appear that the originators of the handshake (President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga), which brought about BBI, were getting anxious at the apparent disunity among Maa leaders.

Nowhere was this schism more apparent than in Kajiado County. The appointment of Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku to be the BBI coordinator in the three Maa-speaking counties of Kajiado, Narok and Samburu did not go down well with leaders opposed to Lenku.

This group consists of former Kajiado governor David Nkedianye, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, former Olkejuado County Council chairman Tarayia ole Kores, Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi, and former Kajiado Senator Peter Mositet. Joining this group of Kajiado politicians is Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina.

Lenku, meanwhile, has been holding a number of meetings aimed at popularizing BBI in Kajiado. Apart from the Narok brigade, those in Lenku’s camp include nominated Senator Judith Pareno, Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito, Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje, Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia, and a host of MCAs.

The appointment of Lenku sent alarm bells ringing in the anti-Lenku camp, who feared that it might be viewed as an endorsement for the governor in 2022. Many saw this as a slap on their faces given Lenku’s perceived closeness with Deputy President William Ruto. Ruto and his followers in the Tangatanga faction of Jubilee have been blowing hot and cold over BBI.

“From his actions alone, it was clear that Lenku was keen to weaponise BBI and use it as the avenue to mount his 2022 re-election campaign,” said a source within the anti-Lenku camp.

Nkedianye, speaking to Kajiado Star, said that the BBI drive was a “national conversation” that should not be confused with the 2022 elections. “It is a fallacy to think that you will push some people aside so as to make it easier for yourself in 2022,” he said. “Come election time, it does not matter whether you were in BBI or not; what counts is your performance while in office. You cannot use BBI to mask poor performance while in office.”

It is this apparent disunity that forced Odinga’s hand, hence the meeting at the Maasai Lodge on February 17. “That meeting was Raila’s initiative; he was the sole convener and host,” Kores told Kajiado Star on phone.

Kores claimed that Odinga’s intervention was caused by the fact that Lenku had failed to bring the two groups together. “Lenku was mandated to coordinate BBI activities among the Maa community and he failed to unite the people. We were not invited to give our views on the same,” said Kores, adding that the community risked going to the Narok rally as a disjointed group.

He added that the Maasai Lodge meeting was called so that the various leaders put their heads together and present a harmonised report in Narok. “The mandate of that committee is only up to the rally in Narok,” said Kores.

On fears BBI might mutate into a platform for the 2022 campaigns, Kores said that was not possible. “Lenku wants to defend his seat in 2022; we also want that seat. People will go their separate ways after BBI and it will be back to business as usual. BBI, after all, belongs to Uhuru and Raila and not Lenku,” said Kores.

Elsewhere, leaders in Kajiado North have ruled themselves out of the Narok rally and said that they will present their views to the BBI secretariat headed by Garissa Senator Yusuf Hajji. They made their resolutions at a separate meeting at the Smith Hotel in Rongai on the same day Maa leaders were meeting with Odinga at the Maasai Lodge.

Nominated MCA Onesmus Ngogoyo said that they decided to hold a separate session after Manje was “disrespected” by leaders in the Maa BBI committee. Ngogoyo was referring to an incident where Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina allegedly told Manje to take his views to central Kenya.

“Our main resolution as Kajiado North leaders is based on One Man, One Vote, One Shilling, whereby resources from the national government should be allocated according to population size,” said Ngogoyo. “We have also resolved that since Kajiado is a cosmopolitan county, leadership should not be the preserve of only one community; if the governor is a Maasai, then the deputy should be a non-Maasai and vice versa.”

Manje told Ole Kina to respect other leaders. “Let him know that we are not going to be silenced; this is not Narok, where people are told to lie low like envelopes,” said Manje. “My mother was born here and I was also born here.”

He added that the Smith meeting had the blessings of Lenku.

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