The stage has been set for the battle to chair the powerful watchdog senate committee with political bigwigs positioning themselves to shine ahead of the 2022 General Elections.
This is after majority and minority parties in the Senate proposed members to the County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC).
Jubilee is the majority party in the House while the National Super Alliance (Nasa) is the minority party.
The chairmanship role is a preserve of the minority side, Nasa. The committee plays similar roles to those of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and the Public Investment Committee.
Among those proposed to be members of the committee include Senators Mithika Lithuri (Meru), Hargura Godana (Marsabit) Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Milicent Omanga.
Others are Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Ledama Ole Kina (Narok), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta).
Although the Senate standing orders do not specify who should chair the oversight committee, by convention in the last Parliament, senators agreed that the position should be chaired by a member from the minority side.
Sources who spoke in confidence told People Daily that Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko and his Kisii Counterpart Sam Ongeri have shown interest to chair the influential committee.
It will be the second time, the veteran politician Ongeri will be trying his luck to chair the prestigious committee that oversees county governments and their executives.
In the last polls, Ongeri was trounced by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’, who went on to chair the committee for two terms deputized by Meru Senator Mithika Lithuri.
Kajwang’, who is serving his second term, has been hailed by his colleagues for his exemplary performance compared to his predecessors former senators Bonny Khalwale (Kakamega) and Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu).
“I am glad to hand over Senate CPAIC to a new team after chairing for three sessions. This tradition was established in the last Senate when the first chair former Kakamega Senator Bonnie Khalwale handed over to his Kisumu counterpart Prof. Anyang Nyong’o,” Senator Kajwang’ wrote on Twitter.
“I congratulate and wish the new team godspeed in the quest for accountability,” he added.
In the new line up, Senator Kajwang’ has been replaced by his Migori counterpart, who will lock horns with the veteran politician from Kisii.
It will be a delicate balance as the two are eyeing Migori and Kisii gubernatorial positions.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado and his Kisii counterpart James Ongwae are both serving their two second and final term in office.
Because the two will not be defending their positions, Senators Ongeri and Ayacko are strategically placing themselves for takeover in Migori and Kisii respectively.
A win for Ongeri or Ayacko, will give any of the two a head start in their campaigns.
But in an interview with People Daily on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo (Siaya) said that the Nasa coalition will not dictate to CPAIC members who to choose as chairperson.
“We chose that our NASA membership comes up with the list of those that will constitute CPAIC that is what has been tabled. This is informed by former Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu impeachment case, where senators rejected the membership of the select committee,” Orengo said.
He added: “We chose to go through the members themselves, otherwise any name presented at the floor of the House without members input will be defeated,”
The jostling among the Nasa affiliate parties, he said, is because every member would want to be in a committee that elevates them to the national level.
According to Orengo, many of the parliamentary committees depend on its leadership and membership.
“You may have a weak chair, but if you have a strong membership, the committee will be stronger,” he said.
On the battle to chair CPAIC, Orengo distanced himself from the wars, saying; “I will not discuss any of the members but what I know is that of the four members we will submit as Nasa, one of them will be the chairman.”
Apart from CPAIC, Delegated Legislation and House Business Committee are the only sessional committees.