The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) brigade was in Mombasa yesterday to make a case for a process they say will address Kenya’s longstanding political problems. In a show of political might only reminiscent of the 2005 Banana and Orange campaigns, the Uhuru Kenyatta-Raila Odinga backed group declared the BBI train unstoppable. The group has, in the last two weeks, held similar meetings in Kakamega and Kisii counties where speakers displayed political brinkmanship seen in verbal attacks on Deputy President William Ruto, who’s seen to be averse to BBI and the handshake.
Yesterday however, there was a semblance of order. Most speakers stuck to the agenda of the meeting and allies of the DP were allowed to speak. There had been fears the Ruto team would be humiliated. In the end luckily, no drama ensued. We believe such is the spirit that should define the BBI campaigns. The drive should be about Kenyans and the future of the nation. It shouldn’t be fodder for toxic political exchanges and early 2022 campaigns.
It will be remembered that when Uhuru and Raila shook hands at the foot of Harambee House on March 9, 2018, the country heaved a sigh of relief. The two buried the hatchet and announced nine thematic areas where Kenyans could unite towards a new beginning. They identified ethnic antagonism and unhealthy competition, safety and security, lack of inclusivity and shared prosperity, lack of national ethos and corruption, devolution, human rights and freedoms and recurrent divisive elections. If this be the case, the interest of Wanjiku should be sacrosanct in the BBI debate. Like in many African countries, the temptation by politicians to whip up emotions to achieve parochial interests can be irresistible.
However, let BBI be a uniting factor rather than a battlefront for egoistic politicians. Granted, we’ve seen what bad politics and shaky institutions can do. The nation was nearly torn apart in 2007 and 2017. Today, we challenge politicians to desist from polarising the country with biased positions on BBI. Most importantly, Uhuru and Raila should take charge of the process and take responsibility for the aftermath.