Governors have proposed at least five radical amendments to the BBI report, joining the growing list of disgruntled parties pushing for a review of the document before a referendum.
The county chiefs’ demands raise the stakes that could send President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM chief Raila Odinga back to the drawing board in their campaign to realise BBI.
If they chose, governors could block other issues – BBI’s recommended changes in the governance structure that the President and Raila are especially keen on.
The large meeting follows a smaller session with Raila last week when they failed to reach a deal on grey areas.
The county chiefs have raised new recommendations likely to turn the BBI process into a daunting chess game.
For instance, the county chiefs are demanding that the Building Bridges Initiative report be revised to give them a free hand to pick their deputies after general elections – instead of going to the ballot with a running mate.
They also want powers to hire and fire their deputies, as they do with members of County Executive Committees, given that BBI proposes DGs be given ministerial portfolios.
Governors also want removal of a proposal that they choose deputies of the opposite gender, meaning mostly women deputies.
The county chiefs are also pushing for strengthening the Senate as the Upper House to protect devolution, a radical recommendation that will rattle members of the powerful National Assembly.
The Kakamega governor said county bosses will be taken through the report by experts, focusing on how it impacts devolution. He said it will give them a clear understanding before making proposes to “enrich” it.
“As governors, our biggest focus now is mainly how to use the report to entrench and protect devolution, especially in matters to do with the flow of finances. The biggest challenge we have had as the devolution family has been irregular flow of funds from the National Treasury,” Oparanya said.
He said the county chiefs hope the President and Raila would live up to their promise to receive new recommendations.
“There are a number of issues we need to amend and the President has been clear there is room to improve the report. The former Prime Minister has also said that the BBI report is not cast in stone, so we shall put our heads together,” Oparanya told the Star.
Despite the CoG boss’s statements, both Uhuru and Raila are on record as saying the document is not open to amendment, though interpretation is possible.
The county bosses are also seeking to amend the BBI report to grant the Controller of Budget authority to approve funds in the absence of the County Revenue Allocation law. This demand stems from the revenue allocation standoff when counties were being ‘strangled’ without funds.
Governors are a key force in the referendum campaigns and their reservations could derail the process. At least 24 assemblies must approve a referendum bill.
In the governors’ demands list is also a proposal to anchor the Council of Governors’ secretariat in law by amending the Intergovernmental Relations Act.