'Insensitive' Building Bridges Initiative will result in apathy, backlash

Detachment between the political class and the proletariat contributes to voter disaffection or 'votelash'

In Summary

• Kenya has been ranked eighth globally with the largest number of citizens living in extreme poverty.

• There is a certain detachment BBI proponents have against the hoi polloi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report.
BBI: President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report.
Image: FILE

With easy and at times effortless access to information and knowledge, more global citizens are cognizant of their rights, freedoms and have expectations of their governments.

Information and knowledge are no longer sifted and sieved to the masses but rather debated, dismissed and/or accepted. There is a newer level of consciousness that has permeated the globe amongst different people from different demographics and accentuated their similarities by elevating everyone’s need for a better quality of life. This is no different for Kenyans.

With the issues in the country including rampant and rising unemployment, increased poverty, lacklustre educational infrastructure, poor health services, and so on, more Kenyans are focussed on the need for effective and efficient service delivery. It is not uncommon for the political class to be rebuked by the proletariat: This is the norm. Kenyans have been emboldened to demand better leadership and management, especially within the public sector.

According to statistics by the Consortium of Researchers on Governance, only a paltry 21.7 per cent are financially stable, whilst 61.2 per cent cannot meet their daily expenses. Additionally, the Central Bank of Kenya released its report that showed only a meagre number of 0.7 per cent bank accounts contain above Sh1 million. It also rated 16 million Kenyans as dirt poor, with no access to healthcare, education, shelter, food and decent clothing. It will be a herculean task to convince Kenyans falling in such a socio-economic demographic that an expanded government will address their pertinent pressing issues.

To note, according to the 2019 World Bank report, Kenya has been ranked eighth globally with the largest number of citizens living in extreme poverty, with Turkana county having the highest number of people living in extreme poverty —87.4 per cent.

When there were rumours of a referendum after the March 9 handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said it would likely cost not less than Sh2 billion.

There is a certain detachment the BBI proponents have from the hoi polloi. Whilst the BBI raises issues that are pertinent and should be addressed, they definitely pale in comparison to the attendant issues facing the country.

This detachment between the political class and the proletariat is what contributes to voter apathy or a 'votelash',meaning the return rate of elected leaders in the next election cycle would be low.

To note, in 2017, 24 out of the 47 county bosses lost their seats, whilst in the national assembly 62 per cent or 179 MPs out of 290 were voted out. Eighty per cent of Woman Reps lost their seats too.

In 2022, if issues run unaddressed, there will definitely be a 'votelash' where those perceived to be detached from the issues, will be punished. This is especially so because of easier access to information and knowledge. The recent impeachment of Ferdinand Waititu definitely lends credence to this; Kiambu, citizens emphatically demanded better governance through their county assembly.

Therefore, it will be accurate to conclude that a plebiscite is unnecessary, strictly based on the economic climate of the country where poverty and unemployment are glossed over by the government.