BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,9TH NOV,2021-A kenyan seeking to have a day set aside as a public holiday for prayers has been advised to seek the court’s opinion on the subject.
The National Assembly Security Committee which is handling the petition has directed the petitioner, Isaac Njuguna, to have the matter considered by a constitutional court citing lack of clarity on the legal threshold for public participation.
“Parliament and the Executive has no trouble with this petition but the courts have to issue conditions so that we do not find ourselves in a situation where we will be told we are committing an illegality,” Committee Chairperson, Peter Mwathi, said on Tuesday.
He spoke during a session that also had Interior Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dado who said the government had no issue with the petition provided its enactment follows the proper channels.
In his petition, Njuguna argued the National Prayer will go a long way in addressing challenges facing the nation, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, mysterious accidents, suicides, immoral behaviour, locusts’ invasion, and many other calamities.
However, citing the Constitutional Court decision on the Building Bridges Constitutional Amendment Bill which was sustained by the Court of Appeal, Mwathi noted that the clarity from the courts would be critical so as to avoid a repeat scenario.
“The courts need to guide on this one because we do not want somebody to challenge what will follow thereafter,” he said.
The Constitution gives the National Assembly the powers to enact a public holiday by amending The Public Holidays Act.
Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma challenged the petitioner to have an audience with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and see how his petition can be incorporated into the BBI Bill.
“The former Prime Minister has said on multiple times that BBI is on half time and a meeting with him will aid in seeing how you can unlock it and incorporate all theses issues together,” he said.
He went on to state: “the challenge we have is that when we have proposals for constitutional amendments, we lose them on very small issues.”
Teso North MP Edward Kaunya supported the petition and noted that it has merits.
“Prayer brings some kind of unity especially among the leaders. Especially during this period where we are heading into a General Election, we need prayers,” he said.
Nandi MP Tecla Tum also voiced her support for the petition noting that Kenyans need to be united in prayers.
“We need to unite as a country and pray, this is a very good petition save not for its constitutional challenges,” she said.
Kenya currently holds an Annual Prayer Breakfast, an occasion that is hosted by Parliament and is traditionally held annually on the last Thursday of May.
The purpose of the National Prayer Breakfast is to meet, engage, interact and together pray for the nation in the company of fellow leaders from all sectors of society.
They include: New Years Day (1 January), Good Friday (March or April), Easter Monday (March or April), Labor Day (1 May), Madaraka Day (1 June), Idd-ul-Fitr (marked depending upon the appearance of the moon).
Others are: Utamaduni Day (October 10), Mashujaa Day (October 20), Jamhuri Day (December 12), Christmas (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26), Idd-ul-Azha (designated depending upon the appearance of the moon) and Diwali which is also marked depending on the appearance of the moon.