Kenya: Raila attacks President Uhuru over oil cash sharing plan

Opposition chief Raila Odinga has accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of an attempt to short-change communities in areas where oil is being drilled.

Raila accused the President of discriminating against the mainly marginalised communities by reducing revenue they are entitled to from petroleum products. 

At the same time, he accused Mr Kenyatta of disrespecting the Constitution and attempting to kill devolution by denying counties money.

Raila was reacting to President Kenyatta's memorandum to the National Assembly after he declined to assent to the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill 2016.

In rejecting the Bill, the President proposed drastic changes to the benefits and sharing formula that Parliament had been proposed.

Raila is unhappy with one of the amendments that reduces, from 10 per cent to five per cent, the revenues host communities will now get.

"By vetoing this Bill, the President has confirmed to the marginalised communities in Kenya the accusations made against him in the past that he is an enemy of the new Constitution and of the system of devolution in which our new constitutional structure rests," Raila said in a statement yesterday.

The proposed law was meant to provide a framework for, among other things, contracting, exploration, development and production of petroleum products in Kenya.

However, in a quick rejoinder, five Jubilee MPs said Raila has no moral authority to discuss oil matters in Kenya, claiming he was involved in the Sh1.7 billion Triton oil scandal.

The MPs, Ndungu Gethenji (Tetu), Johnson Sakaja (Nominated), Beatrice Elachi (Senate Nominated,) Rachael Shebesh (Nairobi Woman Rep) and Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes), said Raila is still a person of interest as the scandal has never been resolved.

They claimed he was involved in questionable deals during his tenure as Energy minister. They claimed Raila is not sincere in his comments on oil matters.

Proposed amendments

"That is why we are unable to take seriously his criticism of the proposed amendments to the Petroleum Bill. It may be - and here we are only speculating - that what has driven him to criticise is a combination of interests: he has interests in the oil and petroleum business to keep safe, and he has a presidential campaign to run in 2017," the MPs said in a statement.

And in his statement, Raila also criticised the President over his proposal to reduce the share of county government from 20 per cent to an ambiguous figure to be determined by the national government purportedly to cater for what he calls "equitable share of taxes".

"With that demand on 'equitable share of taxes', the President is attempting to place the entitlements of the host communities and county governments at the mercy of the executive arm of the national government," Raila said.

He added: "The intensity of the President's hatred of the system of devolution is so high that he has spat on a legislation that has been the product of negotiations and was accepted by both the National Assembly and the Senate across party lines and an agreement on the percentage of revenue share the communities are entitled to reach."