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William Ruto's bid to change constitution might end in tears just like BBI

President William Ruto awards the leader of the worldwide Dawoodi Bohra community Dr Syedena Mufaddal Saifuddin at state house Nairobi on December 12, 2022. [PCS]

It will end in premium fatty oils, salts, and over 1,500 proteins, aka tears! Early this month, news broke that President William Ruto had written a memo to the speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly to consider an amendment to the Constitution to create the office of the official opposition leader, among other changes.

Why does our new president want to try the taste of 'null and void'? We can pardon the president only if he plans to 'handshake' Raila Odinga through a constitutional amendment. But the political heavens show that this is an intelligent move that might not work.

Suppose Parliament agrees with President Ruto to sneak constitutional amendments through another route, apart from the contemplated referendum. In that case, they must remember that the lips that pronounced the words 'unconstitutional' are bulging.

Moreover, if President Ruto wants his leadership to be time-honoured, he must learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, President Uhuru Kenyatta. His latest desire to amend the Constitution through through Parliament is panting for the taste of the 'null', 'void' and 'hot air'. These fruits grow around the corridors of the Kenyan Judiciary.

The 2010 constitution is a 'kimonda'-the name that Nakuru-born movie commentator James Muigai aka DJ Afro Amingos, refers to the invincible movie actors. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga tried to introduce a noble amendment without following due process; they thought that the Constitution was gentlemanly enough to appreciate their hearts' good intentions-it ended in premium tears.

Therefore, unless President Ruto follows the Constitution amendment process, it will end in frustration for him. The Supreme Court already upheld the Constitutional and Appellate courts' rulings that a Head of State cannot initiate a constitutional amendment. Period. Whoever tries to ignore this ruling is preparing for humiliation.

Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) apologetics argue that if Dr Ruto had supported the initiative, it would have become law. First, this was not politically possible. If BBI became law today, Dr Ruto would not be president. How, then, could he have allowed it to be?

Second, the BBI did not fail because Ruto opposed it. The BBI failed because its promoters blatantly disregarded the sovereignty of the people and their singular role in initiating an amendment to the Constitution.

Let it sink in that 'the people', espoused in the 2010 Constitution, share their sovereignty with no individual, whether an institution, a natural person or a regime leader.

The Kenya Kwanza government should be aware that President Kenyatta was not a weak president to fail to push the BBI through. Verily, I tell you he had the sword of power at his disposal, the same sword he handed to Dr Ruto on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Before a sword, spirits become faint and kneels turn out to be as weak as water. However, the people's law of the land is superior to this sword of power.

I must insist that the vision is evident before a king sits on the throne. There is focus and possible ways of changing the status of things. Immediately one rises to power, very few can sustain themselves because there is a great chasm between the two realities. Dr Ruto is on the second side holding power.

Therefore, he should refrain from trying to re-invent the wheel. Instead, he has an excellent opportunity to pick the court-rejected BBI, take it through the correct process, have it adopted and pocket the legacy. If he does that, then amending the Constitution in a way that favours Raila is a bright idea.

The BBI was President Uhuru's Trojan horse to capture the opposition leader. It failed because of handling a constitutional baby using the shawls of politics. If President Ruto ignores the constitutional amendment process, the Judiciary will not consult when executing his proposals by the guillotines of the law.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer in the School of Music and Media at Kabarak University

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