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ODM leader Raila Odinga (in white), accompanied by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok (behind) and other leaders during Tobong'u Lore Cultural Festival in Turkana Central. 16.08.2019. [Peter Ochieng/Standard]
Debate on whether to support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) or the Punguza Mizigo constitutional amendment proposals took center stage at Tobong’u Lore cultural festivals in Turkana County on Friday.

Leaders from across the political divide, led by ODM leader Raila Odinga, outwitted each other on the best way to amend the constitution.

“The journey to the realisation of a new constitution was a very long and challenging one.

“But since we now enjoy a new constitutional dispensation, we need it amended to ensure the best interests of the country and her citizens are better addressed,” Raila said.

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He said after the handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta, they reached an agreement on how best they would address the country’s emerging challenges through BBI.

“BBI team has been traversing the country collecting views on how best we can address the long-standing issues affecting Kenyans and the best way to address them.

“The team will draw its recommendation which will be taken to Kenyans for approval before a referendum on it is conducted,” Raila said.

Unpopular and impractical

He dismissed the Punguza Mizigo Bill as unpopular and impractical since there was no public participation that was conducted before it was drafted.

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“BBI is the way to Kenya’s prosperity and not the Punguza Mizigo which was drafted without the citizens’ input and should be rejected,” Raila said.

The ODL leader dismissed Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago’s claims that the BBI team did not collect views from his county.

“BBI team was in Uasin Gishu and collected public views in Eldoret. I wonder where area governor Mandago was,” Raila said amid laughter from the crowd at Ekalees, the venue of Tobong’u Lore cultural fete.

ODM leaders who accompanied Raila said they will rally behind the BBI team’s recommendations to ensure there is a referendum.

“The spirit of BBI is about to help Kenyans end animosity and the constitutional change is a must for rapid development, unlike Punguza Mizigo Bill that wants to burden Kenyans because representation will be removed from the locals,” said Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.

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He added that the Punguza Mizigo Bill Kenyans need is the elimination of corruption that is threatening development.

Loima MP Jeremiah Lomorukai said under the BBI initiative, Kenya will benefit more, just like the new constitution brought about devolution.

Siaya Senator James Orengo said Kenya can only be made better by Kenyans themselves.

“BBI is not about creating new positions but after a better Kenya in the face of Africa and the world. The BBI will address all the longstanding issues that have been affecting the country, including corruption, among others,” he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said he supports the BBI because it focuses on increasing funds to the counties.

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But Governor Mandago said the constitution should not be amended hastily without the input of all Kenyans and asked politicians to be sincere about their clamour for new laws.

“The politicians should not use Kenyans as pawns to achieve their selfish gains but we should have sincere discourse on the proposed amendments,” Mandago said.

BBI Punguza Mizigo Bill Raila Odinga Ekuru Aukot
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