Verification of BBI signatures begins


IEBC data clerks at their workstations at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi when BBI signature verification began yesterday. [Emmanuel Mochoge, Standard]

The electoral agency has started verification of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) signatures.

This now sets in motion the journey towards a new constitutional order through a popular initiative as proposed in the initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Speaking during the launch of the exercise at Bomas of Kenya, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati said the aim of the process was to get one million credible signatures, to meet the constitutional threshold.

Oath of secrecy

“We expect a high degree of confidentiality and discipline. Action will be taken for any breach of conduct,” Chebukati told the clerks.

He said the commission had hired the 400 clerks in a process it projects will last for 37 days.

According to the tentative timelines by BBI proponents, the signature verification was to start on December 10 for 30 days in time for the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to be submitted to the county assemblies on January 11.

However, acting IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein said the process can take a shorter time, depending on how fast and efficient the clerks will execute their duties of cleaning and merging data.

Yesterday, the clerks took an oath of secrecy before being trained on the process of verification. The exercise will be overseen by 60 supervisors from the commission.

IEBC has budgeted Sh93 million for the exercise. Hussein said each clerk will earn Sh1,200 per day for a maximum of 40 days.

This will translate to Sh19.2 million for the 400 clerks. “The clerks and supervisors will also be using the Bomas of Kenya conference facilities, with each officer expected to utilise Sh3,000 per day for the 40 days,” said the acting CEO.

This means that the cost will be Sh55.2 million.

Other expenses are the purchase of stationery and personal protective equipment, Hussein said.

The commissioners said they would push for more allocation to undertake the huge workload ahead, especially if Kenyans are to go to a referendum.

IEBC Chairman, Mr. Wafula Chebukati making his remarks during the IEBC BBI Supporters Verification Exercise held at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi on 30th December 2020. [Emmanuel Mochoge, Standard]

Chebukati said the commission was yet to roll out the timeline for the referendum as the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has to be debated in the county assemblies in a process expected to take a maximum of three months.

“After the verification of signatures, counties will have 90 days to debate and approve the Bill. The assemblies can complete the exercise in a shorter time to enable the next process to commence early,” he said.

As stipulated in the Constitution, if at least 24 counties approve the Bill, it will be transmitted and introduced in Parliament without delay.

If supported by a majority of the members of each House, the Bill stands passed and sent to president for assent.

Referendum questions

“If either House of Parliament fails to pass the Bill, or the Bill relates to a matter specified in Article 255 (1), the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people in a referendum.”

As provided in law, the referendum can be in the form of a general suggestion or a formulated draft Bill, as is the case with the BBI report.

Parliament is yet to enact the referendum law to guide the process once the assemblies are done with the Bill.

Yesterday, the IEBC sought to set the record straight that the decision to field multiple referendum questions would guided by the law. “When the Bill is referred to us by the president, we shall formulate one or multiple questions, and that will be shared by Parliament. It is not just a prerogative of IEBC,” Commissioner Abdi Guliye said.