By Mourice Seretta
The Pastoralists Leaders Forum has today declared that they will support the Building Bridges Initiative report after getting assurances that the report will address their concerns.
Speaking after meeting with Raila Odinga at a Nairobi hotel, the leaders led by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani and Jubilee Coalition Secretary Adan Keynan, the forum that comprises of Governors, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Speaers of County Assemblies from pastoral areas say they have now unanimously thrown their weight behind the report going forward.
Only last week, the forum said they had identified 10 areas that they wanted to be amended but have since narrowed them down to three namely extending the Equalisation Fund for 20 years, establishing the Livestock Marketing Authority and deleting the proposed amendment on Article 203 (1) of the Constitution on revenue allocation.
CS Yatani said former Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured them that their concerns would be addressed.
“I can confirm to you that we have been deliberating on the matter and we have now resolved to support the BBI in totality. We want to thank President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for having a special place for us in this matter,” said Yatani after a meeting with Raila.
The leaders agreed to form a technical committee that will liaise with the BBI team to address their concerns.
Concerns identified earlier but were dropped include securing and protecting the 290 existing constituencies, making Senate the Upper House and doing away with the proposal to create the Health Service Commission.
Raila said the three concerns raised by the pastoralist communities would be adequately addressed.
“The issues will be taken on board. The technical team will sit down and look at them,” he assured.
The former premier added that it is important to address the issues of concern raised by pastoralist communities if their potential is to be unlocked.
“Pastoralist areas are rich in resources and have the potential for tourism and other businesses. Infrastructure is also critical in these areas because these regions have been subjected to marginalization for a long time. We are reading from the same page and talking the same language. Each and every Kenyan is equal,” Raila added.