• Observers believe outburst is clearest demonstration of political chasm between Kenyatta and Ruto
• In Kisii Raila says BBI offers country opportunity to heal old wounds of political injustice and bind Kenyans together
In one of his boldest criticisms of the Building Bridges Initiative yet, Deputy President William Ruto told President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday that the BBI public rallies are a waste of public cash and time.
Ruto - while on a tour of Vihiga and Bungoma counties - claimed no one was against the report Uhuru and opposition chief Raila Odinga unveiled in September at the Bomas of Kenya.
Ruto said in Vihiga: "We agreed that we look for enough copies of the BBI report so the public can read for themselves and form an opinion on their own. When did it change? Now we are being told that political party leaders should read the report then inform the people about the proposed changes so they can decide for the people. When did it change?"
The outburst, observers believe, is one of the clearest demonstrations that the political chasm between Kenyatta and Ruto could only be getting wider.
Ruto went on: "Now a new game of political mobilisation has been initiated. What are all these campaigns for? Who do they want to persuade? Is it a way of misusing government resources?” Ruto wondered aloud.
On the eve of Jamhuri Day, December 12, Kenyatta extended the term of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji's team although the extension was yet to be gazetted.
The team Kenyatta announced "will continue leading the process including expanding and guiding public participation and structuring recommendations by Kenyans into implementable action plans."
But Ruto who was in Emuhaya and Tongaren constituencies where he led empowerment programmes in Esibakala Primary School and Musembe Secondary School said there was no need for the BBI drama as the entire country was behind it.
“If there are those opposing BBI, let them not hide behind these campaigns,” he explained. “They should come out and say what they are opposed to.”
He said there was a reason for Kenyans to worry as BBI report copies had not been given to them.
Ruto said the report should be implemented and the cash put to better public use.
“We want to bring an end to all these BBI issues and focus on the transformation of our country via the Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030,” he told a rather receptive crowd who must have appreciated that Ruto sounded like a more financially prudent manager of public money.
But even as he rubbished the public campaign in Vihiga, Raila who was the key speaker in Kisii in support of the BBI defended the BBI saying it would usher in a new dawn.
Raila said: "BBI offers the country a singular opportunity to heal old wounds of political injustice and bind Kenyans together in new unity".
He said the report, in its current form, will cure the thorny issues and woes that have all along fractured Kenya's political fabric and fired up ethnic tensions.
It is disturbing that 56 years since independence poverty, illiteracy and disease remain a challenge despite the efforts by successive governments, he said.
“BBi is a game of inclusion and thus there is need for everybody to support it so that we pull our people from the manacles of poverty, disease and other indignities that have continued to hold us back,” Raila said.
The report will address youth joblessness and inspire hope in those long disillusioned by the successive governments by giving them jobs.
“Youth should be empowered by giving them equal opportunities to realize their potential in life and it will be a curse for the generations to come if we will not support it. This is the thread that runs through this report,” he said.
Raila said he was not concerned whether the document roots for a powerful Prime Minister.
The most key issue is a bright future for the generations to come. “That is the pressing issue,” he stated.
Raila addressed the first mega -BBI leadership consultative meeting at Kisii Sports Club in Kisii on Friday.
A series of similar forums will be organized countrywide. The second event is scheduled for Kakamega.
The event was attended by among others Interior CS Fred Matiang'i, his devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa and 13 governors including six from Nyanza region.
CS Matiang'i described the BBI report as "the beginning of a new journey, new chapter, new country we call Kenya.
"This is the time to think about greater things that will transform lives of Kenyans and I urge leaders to listen to each other as we face the electorate," he said.
The CS asked that political leaders from Ward Reps and MPs across the country to organize conventions within their areas to explain to wananchi the BBI report.
“I am happy that it has come a time for leaders from all walks to come together and think about the greater things that will transform the nation. I am urging that let there be conversations in the grassroots so that our people can know about the contents of this report and at the same time give their views,” Matiang'i noted.
He said the handshake between Raila and Uhuru had ushered in a new political nirvana in the country, adding that it was time Kenyans could walk away from the wounds of old history to a better future where all those born within its borders feel they have a say.
Governors present were Kisii Governor James Ongwae , Anyang Nyong'o (Kisumu), John Nyagarama I(Nyamira), Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) , Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Hassan Joho (Mombasa ) and Amason Kingi ( Kilifi).
Also in attendance were Okoth Obado ( Migori) , Cyprien Awiti (Homa Bay) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya).
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua addressed the meeting through a video link while on a foreign trip.
Ongwae said the forum was in the context of ensuring information about BBI report trickles to the grassroots.
He said more copies are still needed to reach more Kenyans at the grassroots.
Ongwae denied the meeting was a political forum as claimed by a section of political leaders from the region.
"We are meeting here as leaders from all regions irrespective of party affiliation to discuss this important document and come up with resolutions on it,” he said.
The Bukhungu meeting faces hiccups, with leaders from Western region allied to both Ruto and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi describing it as an ODM rally and that they will not attend.