Want the best for our country? Merge Nadco and BBI reports

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga launch the collection of signatures in support of BBI at the KICC, Nairobi, in November 2020. [PCS]

Wastage. That is it. The National Dialogue Committee (Nadco) report is already going to waste.

There is an attempt to push some of its recommendations in slow-motion partly to buy time towards 2027 and partly to ensure some of the sticky issues, such as the high cost of living, die a natural death as people adapt to the new demands including increased taxes.

The Nadco report has chapters that are meant to address electoral injustice and chaos. People lose lives while others get injured during every general election. The report has a sharp proposal to address this painful reality; evaluation of the 2022 electoral process. However, this is ambiguous as it could be. No timeframe, and no specifics.

On the cost of living, Nadco makes several proposals, among them a reduction of travel budgets by 50 per cent. What is evident is that the cost of living has not become bearable. Needless to dig into the details of the voluminous document, the focus of the report is on creating seats for the Office of the Opposition and Prime Minister. This is exactly what the antagonists of the much-discredited Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) did not want.

In all honesty, the BBI had wider public participation across the country, was conducted in good faith, the chapters covered and recommendations made carry more weight and had a long-term vision compared to the Nadco report which by large is immediate and short-term oriented. At the time, many people frowned at anything BBI. The courts threw out the whole document on technicalities. However, the content generated from the many public participation forums has depth. It’s a pity to waste it.

In the spirit of nation-building, the Nadco report could be enriched by the BBI report. Here are a few examples of what could be included.

Lack of national ethos. This is a very critical component of what ails Kenya. We live in a globalised world in which traditional ethos is largely displaced by emerging ethos. We have never had a meaningful conversation to define what our national ethos is. Two recommendations that stand out from the BBI report are revamping the Kenya National Archives and Documentation Service and secondly promoting ethics in the country by teaching it as a compulsory subject throughout the schooling curriculum from nursery to university. Essentially, this means the next generation will have a better philosophical understanding of our existential values and principles.

Ethnic antagonism and competition. The proposal is that all resource-sharing criteria at all levels ensure fair distribution between citizens per capita to reduce conflicts over resource allocation and, secondly, to do away with the “winner-takes-all” model of the presidency and establish a more inclusive political system. Here Nadco is creating positions of power rather than calling for a national conversation on a new model of presidency.

Divisive elections. The BBI clearly recommends that we change the nature and structure of the national executive to make it more inclusive and ensure as many Kenyans as possible feel part of the government. This is close to what Nadco recommends but the BBI goes further to clearly state that we should do away with Chief Administrative Secretaries.

Shared prosperity. This chapter affirms that inequality in Kenya is a problem. A few communities are unfairly privileged over others. The proposal is that the current economy – even though we now run on a bottom-up model – cannot produce the prosperity needed to meet the needs of the people. It concludes that we must work towards an economic revolution.

Corruption. Nadco does not introduce corruption as a major setback in the country. There are 13 practical recommendations on how to handle corruption including freeing Kenya from the capture of cartels.

Conclusively, if we compare the depth and intentionality of BBI and Nadco, we should eat humble pie and merge the two reports to give Kenya a better future. Certainly, BBI brings out better issues that affect Kenya and offers realistic solutions, at least for a start.

-Dr Mokua is the Executive Director of the Loyola Centre for Media and Communication