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The hidden gems we must not throw away in the BBI

By Charles Kibiru | August 28th 2021

Court of Appeal judges Fatuma Sichale, Patrick Kiage, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga, Hannah Okwengu, Kairu Gatembe and Francis Tuiyot. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The Court of Appeal stopped the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process last week over what the judges termed violation of certain legal processes.

While respecting the court’s verdict, Kenya risks losing a golden chance to tweak and fortify her constitutional framework as a pre-requisite for the propulsion of our country to better tidings and greater destiny. 

When all is said and done, and despite the court ruling, few would gainsay the fact that BBI held the promise for a more equal, united and prosperous Kenya.

Thankfully, there are other avenues that the good in BBI can be implemented and made to benefit Kenyans. The secretariat is already exploring other ways through which some content of the BBI document can ultimately see light of day.

I sincerely hope another chance will be found to secure BBI’s transformative agenda. After all, the law is made for man, not the other way around.

Whatever has gone wrong with BBI, we must never throw away the baby with bath water. One of the proposals dear to some of us at the forefront pushing for its implementation was the one-man-one-vote-one-shilling principle. This section had a clear object which was to bring about fairness and equity in distribution of national resources.

This dream - which was dear to our forebearers as they fought for independence – must never be allowed to abort and those who believe in it must join hands and relentlessly fight until this goal is realised.

I am convinced this will tackle marginalisation of some regions in the sharing of the national cake when all of us indiscriminately pay taxes. We owe it to the future generation to correct past wrongs and BBI provided an opportunity to do so.

Mt Kenya region was particularly set to benefit immensely from the BBI as it was aimed at correcting skewed sharing of national resources that has retarded development despite immense human and natural resources.

Leaders from all corners of this country must work to dismantle the systematic marginalisation of some citizens. It is not right that children from Mt Kenya get Sh2,000 as bursary while others get ten times more. Lopsided allocation of resources has never been the basis to build a united and an economically powerful country. And this is not ethnicity; I would say the same thing if any other part of our beloved nation was so marginalised.

We must find ways to remedy this situation now. It sad that BBI process has been taken on a rocky road, risking all the good things it promises. Besides the court poking holes on the legitimacy of BBI’s proposition, the process itself was heavily poisoned by toxic politics.

Although it was clear to all and sundry that BBI had good proposals, a section of leaders resorted to petty politics and condemned it wholesale as a decrepit piece of work.

It is not that BBI naysayers do not appreciate how this document would have transformed this country. They do, but they chose to sacrifice the gems therein for transient political expediency.

As the BBI secretariat goes to the Supreme Court to seek resuscitation we cross our fingers, hoping for a flicker of light in the otherwise dark tunnel the Court of Appeal cast the BBI prospects into.

Aside from the one-shilling-one-vote agenda, seeking to ensure that peace prevails before, during and after the elections is an all-time winner in the BBI prototype. How would anyone argue with such an initiative, considering our elections have always been polarising and divisive courtesy of cyclic and toxic whipping up of ethnic sentiments? 

- Kirinyaga Senator and chairman Finance and Budget Committee. [email protected]

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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