Ruto's name missing from BBI signature drive launch

Deputy President William Ruto during the official launch of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report on October 26, 2020.  He is missing out from today's launch of the signature collection function. [File, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto was not among the leaders lined up to speak during the launch of the referendum Bill and national signature collection drive by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

This is according to the programme of the event being held today at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

Ruto flew back to Kenya on Sunday, November 22, after a four-day private business-cum-family trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has made his opposition on the Building Bridges Initiative clear, maintaining that it will result in a lose-lose situation unless it is done via an uncontested referendum.

But, Raila Odinga says there is no such thing as an uncontested referendum because there can never be a 100 per cent agreement on contested issues; that the matter will be settled at the ballot box.

Already behind schedule, guests were expected to be seated at the KICC COMESA grounds by 9:30 am. As at the time of writing this piece at 10:40 am, guests were still trickling into the venue.

At 10 am, President Uhuru Kenyatta and the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were to be escorted by Nairobi Regional Commissioner James Kianda to the venue.

The ceremony is expected to begin with both the National and East African community anthem whereafter there will be prayers.

Thereafter, a video presentation and signature ceremony are to follow.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga will be the first to sign to the BBI form in the format that was okayed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday followed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Speeches will then follow with Raila Odinga taking to the podium and thereafter inviting the president to make his address.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is then expected to present the BBI booklets to the regional coordinators.

A national Anthem will cap the event.

The launch of the signature collection was initially scheduled for Thursday last week but was postponed, with the Secretariat citing late completion and printing of The Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 by the Government Printer.

The BBI Secretariat team led by Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru has set its eyes on achieving at least four million signatures within one week after the launch.

The launch, got a green light yesterday after Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) approved the proposed format for the signature collection forms.

According to the proposed format, registered voters will have to fill in their names, identity or passport numbers, county, constituency, ward, polling station, mobile number, an email address and a signature or thumbprint.

Raila, a proponent of the BBI, has defended the push to amend the 2010 Constitution saying it is a key to address challenges facing the people.

Even with critics calling for a consensus on BBI, the former prime minister has held the opinion that a non-contested referendum is not a possibility in any system of governance saying it would be needless to go to the poll having struck a middle ground.

Against the argument that efforts and resources should be channelled to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Raila is on record as saying there will never come a time when there will be no hurdles to overcome in the life of a nation-state.

Religious leaders and Deputy President William Ruto are among prominent voices which had called for a further review of the BBI report.

Among the contentious issues highlighted by Ruto include; appointment of Judiciary Ombudsman by the Executive, singling out the proposed creation of a Police Council and the involvement of dominant political parties in the appointment of IEBC commissioners.

On October 26, during the official launch of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report, the DP faulted the institution of the office of Ombudsman at the Judicial Service Commission, who is to be appointed by the President. According to Ruto, such a move would amount to interference with the independence of the Judiciary.

Ruto also said the winner-take-it-all problem had not been solved by the creation of Prime Minister posts and two deputies, who are to be appointed by the President from the majority in the Parliament.

After that, President Uhuru remarked that his deputy was behaving like a relay race participant who picks the button only to run in the opposite direction.