With last Wednesday’s unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, Kenya is no doubt on the throes of history.
While a war of words has ensued between those who support and oppose BBI, the country is facing major realignments as the ‘reggae’ and clamour for constitutional amendments gather pace.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake ally Raila Odinga have hit the road to sell an idea they believe hold the cure to some of Kenya’s historical problems.
There are those who agree with the quest for reforms but disapprove of the methodology. Other link the BBI process to a wider 2022 scheme.
Deputy President William Ruto and allies have expressed doubts over some proposals, including that of expanding the executive to include a prime minister and two deputies.
- 1 Our top priority now should be healthcare
- 2 ‘Here are our proposals, please endorse them’
- 3 How the new Constituencies will be shared out
- 4 'Wanjiku is ready for referendum'
That as it may be, majority have confidence in the BBI bandwagon.
It’s time for Kenyans to read the document and make a decision. However, a peek into what brought us here is important.
It will be remembered that when Uhuru and Raila shook hands at the foot of Harambee House on March 9, 2018, the country was saved from the grip of ethnic and political disunity of untold proportions.
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, lack of national ethos and corruption, devolution, human rights and freedoms and recurrent divisive elections.
Without the Uhuru-Raila truce, our country would not be on the path to better and trustworthy governance. We can only make it better. Courtesy of the current peaceful environment, we now have projects evenly spread across the country, not to mention jobs for qualified Kenyans no matter their political affiliation.
The impact of the Uhuru-Raila deal can easily be seen when evaluating degrees of development in different parts of our country. Several roads have been carpeted and major investments such as the Kisumu port unveiled. The many road projects across the country are a testimony. At this rate, Kenya is fast becoming an economic beacon in Africa.
Admittedly, we have a country whose future depends on how the BBI debate pans out. Like it or not, it is important to approach the BBI debate with sobriety. Let political ambitions and 2022 succession politics not cloud our vision.
In a democracy, people may not think alike. Divergence in opinion is healthy. Whichever stand one takes on the BBI report, there’s no denying that Kenya yearns for change. If events of 2007, 2013 and 2017 are anything to go by, we aren’t sitting pretty and certainly something needs to be done.
Expanding the executive will ensure no one among the bigwigs is left out.
I believe BBI has the potential to breathe fresh air into the political future of Kenya and especially in the fight against impunity and political exclusion.
President Kenyatta and Raila have every now and again warned, and rightly so, that chaotic elections are a blot on our democracy. If decentralisation of executive power and introduction of an official opposition are achieved, as envisioned by the BBI report, mutual oversight and cooperation between major political forces could finally usher the elusive harmony.
In my view, the BBI drive is a game changer. It proposes, among others, to increase the amount of devolved funds from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent, to create the Independent Policing Oversight Commission and to merge the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service into the National Police Service.
It also proposes formation of a youth commission, a ward fund and more protection for citizens’ data. In all fairness, BBI is the political Messiah we have been waiting for. Now, we have to read it, understand and make an informed decision.
-The writer is former MP for Nyatike