NOT A PRIORITY

Why BBI will be defeated at referendum

People are reading mischief in his fixation with the document during a pandemic

In Summary

• People are reading mischief in ODM leader Raila Odinga's fixation with BBI during a pandemic and rejection of calls to review the report.

• Is BBI about him and President Uhuru Kenyatta?

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Image: FILE

ODM leader and chief Building Bridges Initiative crusader Raila Odinga was hammered throughout Tuesday over a social media post touting his meeting with an MCAs' lobby.

Raila posted that county assemblies play pivotal roles in the devolved system of governance and can impact the lives of their residents through legislation.

“I had a lively discussion with members of the County Assemblies Forum as we near the next phase of the BBI process.”

The statement provoked a fierce backlash. Even his critics often treat Raila as a statesman. Not any more.

People are reading mischief in his fixation with BBI during a pandemic and rejection of calls to review the report. Is BBI about him and President Uhuru Kenyatta?

Nearly everyone who commented on Twitter and Facebook told Raila BBI is not a priority for Kenyans amid a second, more deadly wave of coronavirus. It would be advisable for him and other BBI campaigners to read those comments. Kwa ground things are different. 

Kenyans are scared. Everyone hopes they and their loved ones will survive the contagion, but no one is sure. Who will be alive to vote in the referendum Raila and his “brother” President Kenyatta are trumpeting? The hospitals are getting full as infections and deaths surge.

ICUs and other facilities for critically ill patients are hardly available. Where are the 300 special beds the President said would be set aside in each county?

You will pay for your Covid-19 treatment because the public medical insurer NHIF and private providers have declined to cover the pandemic. Who has the money at this time?

People are struggling after the pandemic turned their lives upside down. Kenyans have lost lives, jobs and businesses. Children have lost a school year. Out here, no one feels any impact of the multi-billion-shilling stimulus package Uhuru announced months ago to resuscitate the economy.

Yet in his seventh State of the Nation Address delivered on November 12, the President described a country most Kenyans cannot recognise.

“Mr Speaker, I wish from the onset to assure you that the State of our Nation is strong, resilient and brimming with the promise of an even better tomorrow,” the self-styled Kenyan Moses leading people to Canaan proclaimed. He just sighted the Promised Land a whole seven years after taking power.

“Our focus in implementing the Kenya Vision 2030 and its medium-term plan dubbed the Big Four Agenda had been bearing fruit. As result, most of the major economic sectors evidenced impressive growth last year including manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and financial services.”

A President telling untruths to citizens. Is this the same economy that is sinking under a ballooning debt, where unemployed youths cut grass for a living, massive theft of public funds is the order of the day and where companies in key sectors are barely surviving?

The political lobby Kongamano La Mageuzi said, “The government is clearly out of touch with our reality. The speechwriters have no idea what our lives look like and are oblivious of our struggles to feed our families, pay our medical bills and worry about our children’s education.”

Uhuru has previously likened the fight against Covid-19 to a war. In a war, the nation is mobilised to achieve victory against the enemy. Nothing else matters when the lives of citizens are at stake.

Is this the right time to push Kenya into a costly and divisive referendum? What is so urgent about BBI that it cannot wait? Whose interests does the initiative serve?

As if these concerns are not bad enough, Raila and Uhuru have remained adamant that their BBI report will not be reopened despite growing calls for review of contentious provisions.

Churches, MCAs, MPs, senators, governors, professional associations, civil society, mama mbogas and boda boda riders have all raised questions about some of the BBI proposals. But Raila, Uhuru and their allies have turned a deaf ear to the appeals.

They are the only ones who know how to fix Kenya’s problems. This is strange for a political process that is touted as inclusive and intended to heal the nation’s deep wounds.

It is should be obvious by now that the BBI is headed to nowhere unless Uhuru and Raila pay greater attention to defeating Covid-19 and economic recovery. 

But first, they must accede to at least some of the demands of the critics.

(edited by o. owino)