President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have tightened their grip on Parliament as their trusted allies got elected unopposed to lead key National Assembly committees.
The election on Thursday and Friday saw at least nine legislators from the National Super Alliance (Nasa), where ODM is a member, elected to committee leadership positions ahead of tabling of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.
The election at Parliament buildings followed the de-whipping of Deputy President William Ruto’s perceived allies from committees leadership for opposing the BBI that seeks to amend the Constitution to, among others, expand the Executive by creating the post of Prime Minister and two deputies.
President Kenyatta and the ODM leader have openly vouched for a constitutional change through the BBI report.
The initiative seeks to change the system of government from a purely presidential one to a hybrid of the pure presidential and parliamentary systems as well as have Cabinet Secretaries appointed from among MPs.
It also wants the runners up in the presidential election to be the leader of the official opposition.
Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua and her Homa Bay colleague Gladys Wanga were among the ODM MPs who bagged powerful committee leadership positions.
Ms Mutua will chair the Education and Research committee while Ms Wanga will head the Finance and National Planning committee.
The two influential committees are critical to the government’s agenda and have always been the preserve of the party that forms the government.
For instance, the Finance committee which oversees the National Treasury and state agencies like the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), is critical in the enactment of the government’s fiscal and monetary policies.
Their election is on top of the leadership of the watchdog committees – Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Public Investments Committee (PIC) and Committee on Implementation (CoI), which, according to the House Standing Order 172 (2), shall be a preserve of the minority party.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi (ODM) chairs the PAC, Abdulswamad Sharif (ODM) of Mvita chairs the PIC while Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta (ODM) chairs the COI.
During the election, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (ODM) became vice chairperson of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) with his Homabay Town colleague Peter Kaluma (ODM) as vice chairperson of the Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC).
The two committees, previously a preserve of the party that forms the government, are crucial to the implementation of the BBI report.
The election of chairperson and vice chairperson of the 21 committees turned out as scripted by the President and ODM leader.
But unlike the opposition MPs who lost the 2017 committee elections with a fight, MPs allied to DP Ruto did not stage any opposition as the handshake MPs sailed through unopposed.
Kangema MP Muturi Kigano (Jubilee) was elected to take over leadership of the influential JLAC from Baringo North MP William Cheptumo (Jubilee).
Mr Cheptumo, a staunch ally of the DP, was hurdled to the Delegated Legislation committee where he will serve as a member.
Mr Kigano will be assisted by Mr Amollo, replacing Kandara MP Alice Wahome (Jubilee), another Ruto ally. The two were elected unopposed.
JLAC has a serious mandate of midwifing the processing of the BBI report once it is introduced in the National Assembly.
Attempts by Nasa MP Oku Kaunya to vie for vice chairmanship of the powerful Administration and National Security Committee failed as both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had agreed that Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi deputises Paul Koinange (Kiambaa).
The other committee that is crucial to taking the BBI agenda forward is the Committee on Delegated Legislation that will now be chaired by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket (KANU), an ally of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
Mbeere North MP Charles Njagagua (Jubilee) was elected vice-chairperson.
The committee has the mandate of considering subsidiary legislation otherwise known as regulations to implement existing laws.
As such, ite will be in charge of considering the regulations developed by sector government agencies to, among others, implement BBI related laws.
The Agriculture and Livestock committee is crucial in driving President Kenyatta’s food security agenda, which is one of the four pillars for cementing his legacy ahead of his expected retirement in 2022.
The committee will be led by Moiben MP Silas Tiren. He reclaimed the committee after his election in 2017 was overturned by the Jubilee leadership because he went against the preferred candidate.
Mr Tiren replaces Mandera South MP Adan Haji (Jubilee), who was removed from the committee and will now chair the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives committee and will be assisted by Kigumo MP Ruth Mwaniki.
Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru (Jubilee), who was a die hard DP Ruto supporter before crossing over to the President’s camp, was elected vice-chairperson.
The Busia roman representative takes over the Education and Research committee from Tinderet MP Julius Melly (Jubilee).
She will be assisted by her Nyeri Town colleague Wambugu Ngunjiri (Jubilee), replacing Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, who was recently appointed majority leader.
Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito (ODM) bagged the chairmanship of the almost forgotten Parliamentary Broadcasting and Library committee that has not sat for almost three years now.
Mr Kizito will be assisted by Nyamira County Woman Representative Jerusha Momanyi.
The Lands committee has Ms Rachael Nyamai as the chairperson and Mr Khatib Abdallah Mwashetani as vice chairperson.
The Transport, Public Works and Housing committee will be chaired by Mr David Pkosing with Ms Gathoni Wamuchomba as the vice-chairperson.