BBI POLITICS

Power games underlying BBI will destroy Kenya

Choice of BBI venues is deliberate to mask the campaign’s ethnic undertones.

In Summary

• Raila has now launched a scorched earth ethnic-laden campaign beginning in Kisii and Kakamega to right the wrong in the BBI report.

• The flattery that Uhuru could partake of the premiership should it become available and executive should be cause for foreboding.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
Image: COURTESY

The craziest talk I heard towards the end of 2019 was the demagoguery catcalls that BBI will change the Constitution to make the governance system more inclusive of “all communities” in Kenya.

The untidiness of that objective notwithstanding (you cannot have whole communities in government), the offshoot has been calls to strengthen the BBI proposal on the creation of the Premier post, make it executive to ostensibly accommodate President Uhuru Kenyatta upon his retirement in 2022.

Proponents of this sycophantically loaded rant don’t account for the man – Raila Odinga - who probably views the premiership in Kenya as an entitlement and hence his detachment from the initial mild BBI proposal to have a premier with nothing but a title.

Raila has now launched a scorched earth ethnic-laden campaign beginning in Kisii and Kakamega to right the wrong in the BBI report.

The choice of venues is deliberate to mask the campaign’s ethnic undertones. In Luhyaland, however, an attempt to mask an ODM rally as a Luhya unity or national seminar on BBI report has backfired.

Elders and cross-party MPs have roundly denounced the organisers Raila and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, despite sly attempts to associate President Uhuru Kenyatta as co-convenor. The jaunt has been isolated as an ODM campaign.

How to justify spending public money on a political party rally aside, I doubt the President is in on this. I can predict that the handshake bromance will unravel when it occurs to Raila that BBI was a ruse to keep his hopes high but return home empty-handed after the hunt.

The flattery that Uhuru could partake of the premiership should it become available and executive should be cause for foreboding.

And therein lies the bile; Raila will not take a ceremonial presidency nor premiership, neither will Uhuru.

They both want the positions they opt for to remain imperial. Prof Amukowe Anangwe informed opinion is spot on that the two are playing games on each other using BBI.

Uhuru is the fox who wants to tire his prey buying time until BBI public interest wanes to jettison, while Raila hopes to use BBI to have a governance structure that redeems him politically.

But Raila sounding boards like James Orengo, blindfolded by assignments of checkmating Deputy President William Ruto’s ambition, don’t hear the warning bells from Mt Kenya about Uhuru succeeding himself.

Like her or not, the unruly Kandara MP Alice Wahome has touched a live wire whose lightening possibility was best whispered of only at the State House fireplace.

The primacy of Kenyatta II succession in Mt Kenya is lent credence by the absence of a clear kingpin, clashing interests of area political elites and hushed conversations across the Handshake divide on how to tinker with the Constitution to accommodate Uhuru.

The avalanche of furious rebuttals from sections of Mt Kenya against Alice is not about her dare-devil antics, but anger at her for daring to betray a community secret.

But, there is no one yet to succeed Uhuru but Uhuru himself, says his confidant, David Murathe, insists repeatedly. And Uhuru is going for what Raila wants – the premiership - devoid of universal suffrage.

Orengo seems to smell the rat and anticipates an eminent bitter clash, and that’s why he will have us believe that Kenya will be Nineveh if the Kikuyu and Luo communities connive to share Kenya’s leadership at the expense of all others in 2022.

This exclusive ethnic connivance is seductive only because Orengo’s ilk assume it will lull fervent anti-Raila Kikuyu nationalism into giving Raila a chance at the helm.

But ethnic duopolies are experiments that have failed Kenya. At independence, the Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga Kikuyu-Luo exclusionism failed to prosper Kenya and drove forever a daggling dagger between the Kikuyu and Luo that pains till today.

Just like the Kikuyu-Kalenjin exclusionism duopoly under Jubilee has presided over historical economic decline, public debt and graft, and is causing an irreparable schism between the perennial antagonist communities and other envious Kenyans, a Kikuyu-Luo duopoly in the 2020s only rekindles the bitterness of the past. Meaning, Kenya will never be stable, not with an Uhuru and Raila comradery gone sour.

Indeed, former President Daniel Moi’s disastrous experiment at pluralistic ethnic exclusionism – cobbling small communities against big ones - bled Kenya irreparably. That is when the “Big man” syndrome and “mafia” cartels proliferated and accelerated after their nurturing under Kenyatta I.

Any attempt to fashion Kenya of the 2020s on ethnic duopoly’s or plural ethnic exclusion, will fall flat. With majoritarian detribalised youth disposed to the quick buck, therein lies the gene of a generational uprising, the likes we saw in the Arab Spring and more recently in Sudan.

You can feel the festering despondency in the youthful populace when the handshake product, the BBI report, meant to end antagonistic ethnic profiling has turned into a political ogre whose for and against propellers are steeped in ethnic mobilisation.

One such binge is being organised in Western. It does not matter to the organisers – ODM - that this approach runs parallel to and defeats the purpose of BBI intent to end negative ethnicity – the us-versus-them syndrome. BBI is widening this chasm that divides communities.

It turns out BBI is not the silver bullet promised but has become the pedestal upon which ethnic elite games are played going to 2022. We are defeating the present while rumbling into an uncertain future.

Meanwhile, the plot to have Uhuru succeed himself as Premier is copycat of the Russian Putin’s Russian Roulette, a power game that could damn Kenya forever.

It is a perverted version of changing constitutions to usher in limitless terms recently perfected and beloved by most East African Community (EAC) rulers.

This depraved democracy rampage on the Horn of Africa landscape is a dictatorial stain that Kenya can ill afford. Her Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi neighbours are states virtually under occupation by authoritarianism.

In the original form of the Putin Roulette, the former Soviet KGB Colonel Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin swaps the president and prime minister of Russia offices since 2000 with a hapless Dmitry Medvedev.

Putin held the presidency from 2000 to 2008 when he traded places with Medvedev to become Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012, then returned as president to date.