UNITY NOT A PRIORITY

Ruto: We shall ensure BBI fosters unity among Kenyans

Say Kenyans will live in peace if they have enough money to support themselves

In Summary

• MPs say the biggest challenge being faced by Kenyans is not political but financial.

• They say minimum guaranteed returns for all agricultural products should be added in the report.

Deputy president William Ruto chats with a family member of the late Mzee Robert Mwaura Gitau
Deputy president William Ruto chats with a family member of the late Mzee Robert Mwaura Gitau
Image: COURTESY

Deputy President William Ruto has said the Jubilee government will ensure Kenyans are united through BBI.

Speaking at the funeral service of Mzee Robert Mwaura Gitau in Kandara, Murang’a county on Thursday, Ruto said President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration remains focused on fostering unity among all Kenyans and advancing its development agenda.

Ruto was responding to sentiments from a section of politicians from the Mt Kenya region who said the ongoing BBI consultative forums had been used as podiums to humiliate others.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria had said it was unfortunate that they were being accused of insulting the President when they pointed out the issues that needed to be resolved.

"We can disagree on politics and political parties, but with regards to the BBI, we are going to approach it together," Kuria said.

He added, "Hii maneno haitafanyika tena iko hapa na hii basi ikienda imeenda, so we are going to support that document which was launched at Bomas of Kenya".

(This BBI is here and will not happen again in future. When the bus leaves, it will have gone so we are going to support that document which was launched at Bomas of Kenya).

Kuria, however, said the only issue he has with the BBI is the current campaigns dubbed consultative forums yet no one has opposed the same.

The vocal legislator said that is only a platform for a few greedy individuals seeking to enrich themselves.

"We are only questioning the drama and sideshows being created with the ongoing campaigns yet no one has opposed the same. Anyway let those who are eating continue to fatten themselves," he said.

 

His sentiments were echoed by Kandara MP Alice Wahome who said it was unfair for the government to spend billions on the so-called consultative forums when there are other meaningful projects the money would be injected to.

"We cannot spend billions on BBI when we lack water, better education and other infrastructure development," she said.

But Ruto said, "Tusikuwe na wasiwasi na hio maneno ya BBI, tutaiendesha kwa utaratibu na kwa njia ambayo itahakikisha kuwa Kenya imeunganika kama taifa moja".

(Let us not worry about the BBI, we shall conduct it in a manner that will unite all Kenyans to ensure we are one nation).

Ruto, however, said that can only be achieved when there is respect.

The DP said Jubilee politicians should stop the petty misunderstandings and focus on their agenda as the party has enough room to accommodate everyone from youth, women and the old.

"Jubilee has enough room for all of us, let no one feel humiliated. Let us unite and do that work together with respect and discipline," he said.

Other MPs allied to the DP said the Building Bridges Initiative should focus on empowering Kenyans economically.

They say the biggest challenge being faced by Kenyans is not political but financial.

Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said leaders cannot purport to use the BBI to unite poor Kenyans.

“We cannot unite the country and leave out the economy. When we put money into Kenyans’ pockets, then they will automatically live in peace,” he said.

Murkomen said the first process of uniting the country is ensuring the conflicts that divide Kenyans are resolved.

He said the BBI report should first start by ensuring farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs are well empowered before proposing extra political seats.

“We will attend the next BBI rally in Meru and give the message that Kenyans have to be empowered first before we consider increasing political positions,” he said.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said minimum milk prices should be set at Sh60 per litre while annual tea bonuses should be fixed at Sh100 per kilo.

“Businesses have been closing down but once people are empowered economically, they will not care who the President of the Prime Minister is,” he said, noting that Kenyans care about money more than the constitution.

 

"If the report fails to empower Kenyans, then we will reject it," he said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said he had tabled a bill in the National Assembly that seeks to compel the government to set minimum guaranteed returns for all agricultural products.

He said setting a fixed minimum price will empower farmers who have been suffering from unstable prices for a long time and asked his counterparts to support the bill.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa said the minimum guaranteed returns for agricultural products should be instilled in the BBI report.

Kimani further said that youths should be supported for a few years after they leave school to enable them to seek employment.

“The youths can be given a stipend of Sh10,000 for about five years and once they are employed, they will pay taxes which will enable others to benefit,” he said.

The MP said the high number of unemployed youths was a ticking time bomb.

BBI report, he said, should first heal Kenyans’ pockets before uniting them.

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said while the cash transfer programme has gone a long way in supporting the elderly and less privileged.

“The BBI report should also be offering solutions to the challenges facing the youths. Putting money in Kenyans’ pockets is the only way they will live in peace,” he said.