Governors have created a fresh headache for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga with their fresh calls for a referendum.
The Ugatuzi Initiative, launched yesterda,y is the second attempt to seek to change the Constitution after Thirdway Alliance’s Punguza Mizigo Bill that is currently being discussed by counties.
President Kenyatta and the ODM leader have dismissed the proposed changes to the supreme law that were crafted by the Ekuru Aukot-led party and roped in their members to ensure the Bill dies in the counties.
The governors’ initiative is seen as more potent because it is being fronted by the 47 county bosses who are seasoned politicians in their own right, and who can count on widespread grassroots support owing to the billions of shillings they control.
A few governors like Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Hassan Joho (Mombasa) have declared interest to vie for the presidency, and it remains to be seen how the President and his ODM ally will deal with their push for a referendum.
Uhuru and Raila have urged their supporters to wait for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report that is due to be released next month. They have promised that the task force they set up will provide a clear roadmap that will cure the many challenges the country faces.
On Thursday, Raila moved to rally his troops behind the long-awaited BBI report. In a meeting with senators last month, the ODM leader had also expressed his discomfort with the Punguza Mizigo Bill’s recommendations and asked the legislators to instead support the BBI task force’s proposals.
“I had a consultative meeting with senators drawn from ODM on a number of party and national issues. I asked the senators to go to the grassroots and educate ward representatives on the BBI to deflect attention from Punguza Mizigo,” Raila said.
The ODM leader has warned that those standing in the way of reforms “will be swept into political oblivion”.
Uhuru has also strongly supported a review of the Constitution and asked Kenyans to make changes to the law so that any weaknesses are not exploited by leaders to oppress them in future.
“If there is anything wrong with the Constitution, or any other law, we need to sit down and see how best we can rectify it,” the President said last month when he attended the 60th anniversary celebrations of Christ is the Answer Ministries Church in Karen, Nairobi.
Deputy President William Ruto, however, has criss-crossed the country opposing the constitutional review plans. The DP has described the initiatives as selfish schemes designed to create more seats for perennial election losers.
With their Ugatuzi Initiative, county chiefs have proposed a raft of goodies to woo members of the county assemblies to their cause.