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Eyes on Uhuru as BBI debate rages

Will Uhuru stick by the BBI even if its recommendation will put him on a collision course with leaders from his region?

In Summary

• The President is on record saying that together with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, he must deliver the BBI.

• Legislators from his backyard have however issued conditions that must be met for them to support recommendations of the BBI.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

All eyes are now on President Uhuru Kenyatta as he jets back from Russia into a storm that has been sparked by speculations on recommendations the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The question on the minds of Kenyans is whether Uhuru will have the courage to choose a different path from the one MPs from Mt Kenya have taken.

Legislators from Uhuru’s backyard have since issued conditions that must be met for them to support recommendations of the BBI. The bone of contention is that the BBI team could have recommended a total overhaul of the governance system from presidential to parliamentary.

The President, on the other hand, is on record saying that together with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, he must deliver the BBI.

“We must implement the BBI. My brother Raila Odinga and I will walk Kenyans through that path,” Uhuru declared in Ngong as he launched the Nairobi-Suswa SGR line on October 17.

He promised to traverse the country to rally support for the BBI saying he would use it to leave behind an enduring legacy built on peace and unity.

But soon after, some 40 legislators drawn from Mt Kenya region issued what they termed as irreducible minimum conditions for them to support the BBI report.

The presence of Uhuru’s of CS Mwangi Kiunjuri at the press conference perhaps demonstrated the resolve of the leaders from Mt Kenya region to have their interests guaranteed in the report, even if it meant defying the President.

They indicated that they will oppose the parliamentary system of governance should the BBI report propose so.

Following their stance, Kenyans are eagerly waiting to see if Uhuru will stick by the BBI even if its recommendation will put him on a collision course with leaders from his region.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu has however called on MPs from Mt Kenya to be patient and wait for the BBI report to be released.

Wambugu noted that the same MPs refused to attend forums by the taskforce to give their views and are now claiming that someone had misled them into believing the BBI was not going anywhere.

“Now they have realised BBI is unstoppable and they are trying to catch-up. I would urge them to be patient and wait for the report,” Wambugu said.

During the visit by the BBI taskforce in Nyeri in June, only Wambugu and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega presented their views. 

Deputy President William Ruto, while addressing residents of Mumias East constituency in Kakamega yesterday, kept off the debate but his allies said they would rally behind the BBI if its proposals will seek to strengthen devolution.

Mumias East MP Ben Washiali said the country would not accept any proposal that would frustrate devolution.

Likuyani MP Enock Kibunguchy said he would support the BBI report if it would seek to add more money to counties.

“Counties have proved to be engines of development. They thus need more attention, in terms of funds allocated to them,” explained the Likuyani MP.

He added that the BBI would have to be fought tooth-and-nail “if it will take us back to the pre-devolution era”.

Despite its content having not yet been made public, Sirisia MP John Waluke said the BBI would “destroy” the country as it is a one-man game-plan that needs to be vehemently opposed.

“The man behind it has perpetual hunger to change the Constitution for selfish reasons. There was no serious public participation in BBI,” Waluke said.

Teso South MP Geoffrey Omuse said Kenyans should oppose any move that would deny them a chance to have a say in the formation of a government.

“This key function cannot be delegated to a few leaders such as the MPs,” he said, suggesting that Kenyans should oppose a parliamentary system of government.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said they would back a review of the Constitution which does not create more seats for some leaders and end up putting more burden on the people.

Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi, who was with Ruto in Nyamira argued that the country would not allow its leaders—such as the President to be elected by MPs.

Kenyans, he said, should elect their leaders at the grassroots all the way to the top.

Bomachoge Chache MP Alpha Miruka said they will evaluate contents of the BBI report before declaring a stand.

“If it fails the common man's test, we will reject it. We cannot support anything that expands the executive and leaves Kenyans burdened,” he added.

Kitutu Masaba MP Shadrack Mose said he would support the BBI, but on condition that it pushes for reforms that are progressive.