BBI Bomas conference as it unfolded
By Japheth Ogila | October 26th 2020
Kenya moves towards yet another historic moment as President Uhuru Kenya and ODM leader Raila lead the country in the launch of the final Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.
Standard Digital brings you the live coverage of the event, which could possibly shape the country’s political system.
Sunday evening: Event organisers put final touches to the preparation at Bomas of Kenya.
Monday early morning: Media crews arrive at the Bomas of Kenya.
7:00 am: Kenyans start arriving for the event. Security tight.
Leaders, mostly MPs also begin to arrive ahead of the event.
8:00 am: MP William Kamket (Tiaty, Kanu) says the report is good but did not meet all the expectations. Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay, ODM) says the report is good and addresses various issues.
9:00 am: Leaders continue giving their views on the report. Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni Senator, Wiper) says some areas in the report require no referendum. Says the public can easily be confused in the politics of succession. Says the technical committee failed to provide technical advice on implementing proposals such as on governance. Says Kenya needs the best presidential election in 2022 and no need of vetting IEBC official, only flawless technology needed.
10:00 am: COTU Sec-Gen Francis Atwoli says some of their grievances were not addressed but is optimistic the proposals will be included at a later stage. Says BBI proposals are generally good save for the areas that need few corrections.
Says the BBI is good for Deputy President William Ruto. Argues the DP will not be a loser in case he fails to clinch the presidency in 2020 election.
ODM leader Raila Odinga arrives for the launch of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya.
Others leaders among them Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka arrive for the event.
Kenyans continue giving their views on the report.
10:20 am: Agriculture CS Peter Munya says BBI report is good. Cites inclusive leadership, more resources for devolution and equality of votes as the upgrades of the report.
Says the report promises economic revamp given the economic incentives touched on it.
Says it’s important for IEBC commissioners to ‘live’ after presiding over an election-meaning limiting their terms to 4 years is ok.
Says increasing the seats will help in improving representation will bring equality of votes.
10:20 am: Agriculture CS Peter Munya says BBI report is good. Cites inclusive leadership, more resources for devolution and equality of votes as the upgrades of the report.
Says the report promises economic revamp given the economic incentives touched on it.
Says it’s important for IEBC commissioners to ‘live’ after presiding over the election, meaning limiting their terms to 4 years is ok.
Says increasing the seats will help improving representation which will bring equality of votes.
10:27 am: Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi (ODM) tells KTN News that he is happy that his constituents will realise the benefits of actualisation of the report after he has served his last term. Says leaders should divorce the process from personal ambitions.
Says the talk that the BBI is trying to lock out DP Ruto is inaccurate. Emphasises that succession politics should be delinked from the BBI.
10:30 am: DP William Ruto arrives at the venue for the event.
Kenyans in attendance continue voicing their opinions. Laud the efforts by the team to give youth tax holiday when repaying Helb loans and starting a business. Some argue that a president and a governor should be granted powers to dismiss their deputies.
10: 38 am: Master of Ceremonies leading the singing session.
Speakers reminded to stick to the program, warned that those who will deviate the program will have their microphones switch off.
10: 43 am: Siaya Senator James Orengo (ODM) speaks to KTN News. Says the BBI proposal on electoral laws will bring electoral justice. Says like US constitution was amended over time; Kenyan law can go through similar changes.
Says ministers coming from Parliament is a popular culture helping governments drive their agenda.
On gender parity, Orengo says the BBI proposals could bridge the gap in the required threshold. Says Parliament has failed in legislating laws for achieving two-thirds gender rule.
Orengo says DP Ruto has not been sidelined in the BBI report. Adds the DP chose to be on the sidelines himself. Not a fault of the president.
10:51 am: Band singing as leaders and Kenyans expect the arrival of the president for the event.
10: 57 am: Presidential motorcade make way into Bomas of Kenya as President Uhuru arrives at the venue for the launch.
11:04 am: Band singing Kenya Kipenzi Chetu, Kenya Nchi Yetu as instruments feel the air. The event is approaching its climax.
Master of Ceremonies orders DJ to play Mashujaa Day theme song Mimi ni Shujaa on Kenyan heroes. Gathering on feet to dance the song.
11: 11 am: President Uhuru welcomed in the arena.
MC alerts gathering for National Anthem and East African Anthem.
Sheikh Yusuf and Bishop Jackson Ole Sapit (Anglican Church) lead in prayers.
11: 17 am: Master of Ceremonies welcomes guests, invites musician Rufftone. Sings his hit song Mungu Baba Twaomba.
11: 22 am: Gathering watches short advert on BBI report, encouraging Kenyans to read the document.
11: 24 am: BBI taskforce Vice-Chair Prof Adams Oloo invited to speak. Says, “That baby is born, alive and kicking and the parents are ok.” Urges the steering committee to stand up. Recognises the team of experts, a young group that helped them too is recognised.
Oloo says team traversed all the 47 counties and 297 constituencies were represented in the report. Says youth, women, civil society, women, persons with disabilities and politicians were heard. Says government agencies appeared at the KICC forum and trade unions and other sections of society.
Says experts continued receiving the memoranda physically and via emails.
Says the report is multi-faceted and covers all the required pockets of concerns in society and governance.
11: 34am: Lawyer Tom Macharia and governance expert Paddy Onyango address gathering on the content of the report.
Mr Macharia explores the economic recommendations of the report such as incubation shops to address youth unemployment. Emphasises incentives for the youth like 4-year moratorium before repaying Helb loans.
Applause as he reads the BBI report recommendation on steps to meet gender parity. Covers recommendation on fighting against corruption, fraudulent land acquisition and upgrading the ODPP.
Covers recommendation on the reformation of the IEBC, creation of Leader of Official Opposition, creation of PM and DPM posts. Recommendation on renaming Cabinet Secretary to Minister-to be appointed from the National Assembly.
Creation of health body to harmonise health functions in counties and national government.
11: 42 am: Mr Paddy Onyango addresses the gathering on the BBI report. Covers Persons with Disability Act the report proposes to be repealed. This includes Kenya Sign language Bill for the deaf. Says team proposed a bill to solve the historical injustices. Says the committee recommends the issues to be addressed in phases but given priority.
Says IEBC Act seeks to strengthen the commission from interference as envisioned by the report. Says report contemplates that the commissioners are to be vetted afresh and if found fit will continue with their term. Says there is a recommendation that persons with disabilities form electoral colleges in parties to elect one of their own.
Says party disputes to be resolved internally before moving to tribunals, in which they will prove that internal mechanisms have yielded no fruits.
Says where violence is meted against women in the electoral period to attract tough penalties.
Campaign financing: Mr Onyango says there is a requirement that candidates seeking state office should declare sources of their funds for accountability.
Police: Says report recommends that IPOA be elevated to a Chapter 15 commission to bring discipline and finish extrajudicial killings by the police.
11: 52 am: Mama Pendo (Lencer Achieng’) and Baba Pendo- Says they are attending the event to preach peace. Urges politicians to continue preaching peace.
“Don’t leave us in pain as you move with your affairs,” says Achieng’.
Joseph Abanta (Pendo’s father): Says the Handshake brought peace. Says life should continue even after politics. “May my child’s blood be the last to be shed,” he says.
Joseph Kawe: Says he is one of the victims of the PEV since a tender age.
Narrates Kenya’s rough patch with chronic post-poll violence. Says if there is need to end the violence.
12:01 pm: MP Cate Waruguru addresses the gathering on behalf of the youth. Says Uhuru is like Nehemiah who has called the people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Conversation must be about the future and not 2022 politics.
Alex Matere: Says the views and the aspirations of young people. Says youth have been sidelined for far too long. Applauds the youth commission proposed in the report.
Covers proposals to solve unemployment in the country. Says we should be worried about the political class that is confusing the youth.
12:09 pm: MP Mishi Mboko rises to address the gathering on behalf of women. Says the report focuses on bridging the gender parity gap. Says women will get more leadership opportunities through elections and nomination as deputy governors.
Says all the frameworks in place to ensure that Parliament is not dissolved as BBI will address the gender parity gap.
Renee Mayaka (MCA Nyamira): Says report addresses the winner-take-it all problem. Lauds the more devolvement of the resources to the counties. Says they are forming baraza la vijana to support the BBI.
12:16 pm: Gathering sings Happy Birthday song the President.
12:17 pm: Governor Charity Ngilu (Kitui) addresses the gathering on the BBI on behalf of women.
Says the BBI will devolve more resources to the counties (35 per cent) and that is a better package. Says move will help the counties will easily join hands in implementing the Big Four Agenda.
Says adherence to two-thirds gender rule has not been exhaustively been addressed. Proposes that all the seven positions to the National Assembly be given to women.
Says new five positions in the Executive should align to the two-third gender rule.
Ashura Michael speaks on behalf of the deaf community. Urges everyone to read the BBI report. Says Article 52 being repealed will open up more chances for persons with disability. Says she is sure that the community will be well represented in the report. Urges aspiring governors to appoint persons with disability as their deputies.
Proposes to Uhuru to the applause of the crowd.
12: 28pm: Nick Nesbit (KEPSA), Mike Raba and Richard Muteti to address the people on behalf of the business community.
Nick addresses the gathering. Calls for transparency in issuance of tenders. Says that women and youth should not be sidelined.
Mike Raba: Says he is speaking on behalf of the SMEs. Says he is the founder of Homeboyz Group of Companies. Says the company will be listed in the NSE later this year. Says the BBI will reduce the bureaucracies of opening businesses. Hails the seven-year tax breaks given to the youth. Hails the Helb moratorium for the fresh graduates, business incubation centres and promotion of digital-based businesses.
Richard Muteti: Representing the jua kali sector. Says SMEs and MSMEs are recognised in the BBI report. Says it is mainstreaming the MSMEs-the first-ever instance. Says the proposals will bring prompt payment for the people to be paid on time. Hails the business incubation centres which he says will create jobs even in the villages.
12: 41pm: Bishop David Oginde and Ibrahim Rithome to speak on behalf of the religious community.
Bishop Oginde says religious community only has a concern of peace.
Lauds efforts by the BBI steering team, but raises the concern that political intrigues could strangle the process. He says the tendency remove the gains promised to the ordinary Kenyans.
Says DP Ruto and Raila could end up being in the same side come 2022.
Says may the hustlers pause their hustling and reggae dancers pause their dancing to join the Jerusalema dance for the sake of peace in this country.
Says the religious community will read and choose its stand.
12: 48pm: Wilson Sossion (Knut) and Francis Atwoli (COTU) to speak on behalf of the workers.
Sossion addresses the gathering. Says they agreed as workers that the document is fine. Says what is required is a referendum to implement the proposals.
Says they support the process but urge for more engagement in the process.
12:50 pm: Francis Atwoli addresses the gathering. Says the document has improved from its last draft. Says some areas have not been addressed like the powers of the SRC. Says SRC mandates contradicts the requirements of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Says representatives of workers need to be picked to Parliament and not necessarily through parties.
Rev Dr Samuel Kobia and Ndegwa Wahome (Nyandarua Speaker) talk on behalf of the NCIC
Rev Kobia says NCIC is keen on BBI report. Lauds the return to normalcy that has led to the peace and tranquility in the country.
Says BBI recommendation should act as agency for building a peaceful society. Says the country should focus on healing the wounds of division in the country.
Urges leaders to bring to life the national values as enshrined in Kenyan law.
Mr Wahome: Says he is the leader of all county assembly speakers. Says they will ensure that the document reaches the common people so that they can make their decision. Praises the devolution of more funds to the counties. Praises the establishment of Ward Fund for the MCAs to do administrative work.
1:08 pm: Governor Ali Roba (Mandera) and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on behalf of the Council of Governors (CoG).
Gov Roba says BBI brought platform for uniting Kenyans despite their political differences. Says increase of funds will to the grassroots areas so that development can increase.
Promises support for the BBI.
Governor Oparanya rises to address the gathering on behalf of the CoG. Says Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya wasn’t able to attend but has expressed support for the BBI. “ We as the family of devolution wanted allocation of 45 per cent of the budget but got 35 per cent and we say thank you,” says Oparanya.
Says all governors have pledged to support the BBI.
1:07 pm: Sen. Samuel Poghisio and MP Amos Kimunya address the gathering on behalf of the Parliament.
Sen. Poghisio to Uhuru “If you want to marry many women you can read the Bible. It’s there.”
“My advice is that we read the document in a way that it will bring the same meaning to all of us,” Poghisio says.
He recalls the grim pictures of the 2007 elections. Saying the country should not go back to the events semblance to 2007 PEV.
Cautions against “us” versus “them” narrative. Also, cautions against politics of the poor vs rich.
Says they support the document.
Kimunya says the Parliament is up to the task in supporting the BBI. Says no division along with the BBI discourse.
“We have agreed with the leader of the minority that we are going to marshall members to achieve this dream together,” Kimunya says.
1:27 pm: Wafula Wamunyinyi addresses the gathering. Says BBI is proposal internal mechanisms to solve party disputes. Talks about the wrangles in Ford Kenya being taken to the High Court “for no good reasons.”
Says BBI is providing the answer to end the political violence in the country.
1:31 pm: Former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto addresses the gathering.
“This is one of the greatest moments for those who have lived under deprivation. We can now take the economy to our villages,” he says. Says he has taken four days to read the document. Says he has not seen any amendment with mischief.
“I want us to say that it should now be a culture for those vying for positions that after elections they should have a handshake with their opponents,” he says.
Says he will be on the campaign trail to ensure the document is passed. Says amendments are done.
1:35 pm: Nick Salat (Kanu Sec-Gen.): He rises to speak on behalf of Kanu and the party leadership on the BBI.
Says Kanu supports the proposals on BBI increase inclusiveness, strengthening devolution, gender parity e.t.c. “This is a package that should be anchored in the Supreme law of the land,” he says.
Says Kanu believes that BBI will heal the socio-economic and political issues in the country.
“Let us be on the right side of history be discussing the document presented to us…to make the right choices,” he says.
1:40 pm: Governor Alfred Mutua speaks on behalf of his party Maendeleo Chap Chap.
Says increase of devolution funds, economic incentives and ward funds are very great ideas.
“Amendments of the constitution is very ok,” he says.
Says Constitution-making is a process.
Urges the political class to strive towards uniting the country.
Speaks in sheng, urges Uhuru and Raila to continue with the quest for unity. He persuades leaders to ensure equality and intolerance for tribalism.
1:44 pm: Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya): Says he is happy that, “for the first time the country has put integration of the region in the constitution.”
He lauds the centrality of devolution in the document. “By taking 35 per cent of revenue to the villages, we are going to witness a revolution the economy in a manner never seen before,” he says.
Encourages to read the document to understand. “Nothing is cast on stone. A good idea will give rise to a better idea,” he says.
Hails former president Mwai Kibaki for midwifing the delivery of 2010 Constitution.
“We are going to have the ultimate Constitution that will lead this country for the generations to come,” he says.
1:49 pm: Musalia Mudavadi (ANC leader) speaks on behalf of his party.
Says the issues the BBI sought to solve are real issues.
Sys he wants to highlight certain issues so that the taskforce can take them to account.
“I think the strength of the Senate needs to be relooked at again. I think the articles that have been touched tend to remove role of Senate in devolving funds to the counties. Senate is the anchor of devolution,” he says.
Lauds the appointment of the Ombudsman but recommends the appointment be made by the Chief Justice instead of the President to strengthen the Judiciary.
Says the country needs to tame the public debt. “If the debt consumes much of our resources, we shall again fail to serve the counties,” he says.
Says 2010 Constitution had 67 per cent acceptance at the time it passed. Urges Kenyans to read the document so that the endorsement rate can rise above that.
“We cannot amend the 10 commandments but we can amend the Constitution,” he adds.
He urges for consensus building as was proposed by the president in Kisii.
1:55 pm: Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper leader): Kalonzo rises to speak on behalf of his party. Reads the scripture (book of Psalms) at the beginning of his speech.
Urges leaders that the country ought to listen to what the church is saying on law changes.
Says the document is not burdening the taxpayers with expanding the Executive structure. Kalonzo adds that there are many gains in the proposals fronted by the document.
Pleads with governors to use the increased devolved funds for the benefit of the counties.
“We believe in devolution. Let’s deepen it and avoid the stealing,” he says.
“We have read this document. It is not big. What happens next?” he poses.
Slams politicians that use the “class war” causing the divisions. “Someone has brought us a wheelbarrow, what have you brought us?” he remembers his recent trip to Mt Kenya.
“I love this Jerusalema dance, but Mugithi may well be better,” he says.
2:06 pm: Another round of performance for shujaa song.
2:07 pm: ODM leader Raila Odinga (ODM leader) rises to address the gathering.
Urges the gathering to stand for a minute of silence in remembrance of the late veteran lawyer Nzamba Kitonga, who chaired the committee of Constitutional experts.
Remembers the country’s journey with the search for devolution. Touches on the death of the late Dr Odhiambo Mbai (lawyer).
Says regional governments were scrapped in Naivasha leaving way for the counties.
Remembers how they traversed the country in gathering views of the people for the BBI document.
Quotes the book of Isaiah in the Bible and the Qur’an. Says the leaders need to talk with each other not at each other.
“Raila Odinga has not declared that he wants to run for president in 2022,” he says.
Says the document is in line with the aspirations of the country’s founding fathers, as anchored in the national anthem.
“We don’t want a proletarian devolution; they have never been led by the rich. We want equality and this is why we are promoting new ethos,” he says.
Cites the spirit of unity in Tanzania. “We agreed that we would bring this to the people of Kenya,” he says.
Says the document should be a unifying process. “We don’t want to talk about 2022,” he adds.
“The Jubilee government have theirs na wamalize yao saa hii,” he says.
2:22 pm: Deputy President William Ruto addresses the gathering.
Says the media is trying to reduce the BBI forum to a 2022 contest which is not.
“I am asking myself whether there are any demons in Bomas. Or better still, I can ask them, Oolisikia wapi?” he posed.
Says division need to be addressed so that the BBI does not end up being polarising. Says there are those who think there should be a priority for addressing Covid-19 effects.
“We have a civic duty all of us as Kenyans to engage in this process. We do not have the luxury to say I don’t care,” he says.
Says no one would want to be ruled by fools and that’s why everyone must engage in the process.
“The many proposals that have been highlighted here by Adams Oloo, I believe that since we have a forum in Parliament, that can be interrogated in that processes,” he says.
Says the real problem is youth joblessness. Says the discussion should be central on the joblessness. Moratorium just adds onto the BBI proposals.
Says issues to do with guaranteeing minimum income returns should be improved on.
“We are not at the same level when it comes to reading. Scientists like us take too long because we need to interrogate issues. And I agree with Kalonzo that we should have a non-contested referendum,” he says.
He proposes that there should be a high court in every county. Says there are counties with no courts, forcing Kenyans to travel to seek justice.
Says Judiciary should be strengthened to have more courts.
“…In my respectful submission is a derogation from the independence of the Judiciary,” he says.
On IEBC, DP Ruto says, “How fair will there be a league where the referee is appointed by a team, and not only a team, but teams. If you persuade me that you’ll have a fair game? Fine.”
“You have heard me, I have heard you, do you think that’s fair? We will have a middle ground,” he says.
He says the recommendation to have a police council chaired by the CS is a “derogation from the constitution.”
Says he agrees that the increase to 35 per cent is progressive and that more resources need to be devolved.
“We must also ensure that the Senate has the constitutional power that those resources are utilised properly,” he says.
He says delinking the Senate from discussion devolution from discussing devolution is a downgrade on the Senate.
“If you are saying women are going to the Senate whose functions are downgraded, are you enhancing or downgrading the participation of women?” he says.
“I don’t know about the reggae but I can talk about the hustlers,” he says.
On governance structure and inclusivity
DP Ruto questions the governance structure.
“Have we solved the winner take-all question? He says the proposal cannot address the winner-take-all question.
“I want to thank the young man from Kitale because he said we should not bring the 16th Century because he was referring to the wheelbarrow, and possibly me. How comes in the 21st century, millions of Kenyans are still dependent on wheelbarrow and mkokoteni?” he posed.
“I have leaders say we should not have “us” versus “them”, and I have heard leaders say we should not have the rich versus the poor debate,” he says.
2:50pm: President Uhuru Kenyatta rises to address the gathering:
Appreciates birthday wishes as he begins his speech. President Uhuru recognises the efforts of the BBI taskforce team.
Hails the input of Mr Odinga in the BBI process and how they brought the ceasefire.
“When we sat down to speak, it was very difficult for him and my team. But when we went through the process and spoke. We agreed that we are not here to share positions. We were coming with one common agenda. The agenda to unite,” says Uhuru of Raila.
He says the agenda was to ensure Kenyans are united and not to
“He is not in government he never made any demands to be in government or share government. He said let us fix what will be able to enable us to compete without the blood of Kenyans being shed,” he says.
Thanks, DP Ruto, and how he kept him abreast with the events.
“He was part and parcel and in fact he helped me identify some of the wazees I just mentioned here. The purpose as we agreed with him (and Raila) was an extension of what we did in 2013,” he says.
“I was to use this day to say my thanks and also put things in context,” Uhuru says.
We are a tribal society. We want to pretend but this is what divides us. When the time comes we switch to our vernacular,”
“I have also been part and parcel of this negative politics,” he says.
Says leaders at times pretend how patriotic they are.
Says the second big problem is about young people. “We have a youth that if not well managed can be a time bomb and can blow this country,” he says.
“How we manage it is very important. We cannot manage it through inciting them by including them in the leadership,” he says.
Says no country can develop in a five-year term, saying there are lots of things involved.
“Chucumi kweli tutatua, na vijanakweli utawapea kazi?” he posed.
“We must stop this culture of use and dispose of our young people, and develop a culture of …enabling our young people who are our future to be a productive part of our country,” he says.
“There are too many sideshows that are distracting us from where we want to be,” he says.
He says there needs to be a competition of ideas on developing the country.
“I believe here we have something that can help us start in that process,” he says.
“Kuna vipengele mingi, na nimesikia mimi sitaki hii na iwe hivyo, trhat is the conversation we want,” he says.
Emphasises on peace. “He didn’t come here to say we divide power. And I am thanking all his Nasa co-principals. I also thank my deputy because we were together until recently that his 2022 ambitions took toll of him,” he says of DP Ruto’s ambitions.
“My brother hapa William amepinduka anakimbia nyuma. Mos mos utafika tu. Tufanye shughuli hii kwa taifa. Shughuli ambayo italeta umoja kwa taifa letu,” he says.
Urges people to bring their recommendations. “If there is a better one, bring it on board. And, let us not overload ourselves,” he says.
“BBI hii tapita jameni ama mnaona aje, Mnapitisha? Mtatusaidia kusaidia wakenya kuelewa ni kwa nini tunapitisha hii. Mtatusaidia,” he says.
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