Gideon Moi’s BBI town hall meetings stir political scene

A series of campaigns in support of the proposed constitutional changes by Kanu chairman Gideon Moi have stirred discussion on his political game plan in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession matrix.

Gideon has sustained his tours across the country, promoting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which has been interpreted as a sign that he is keen to champion the reform agenda and play a key role in the 2022 General Election.

The Baringo Senator has so far held rallies in Migori, Narok, Bomet, Embu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu counties in the last couple of weeks to drum up support for the BBI, with his eyes firmly fixed on the 2022 succession.

The next polls will be crucial for the senator since it will be the first general election after he was formally handed the political baton belonging to his late father, former President Daniel Moi.

Already, the independence party has engaged the top gear in revamping its structures and networks by opening up new branch offices across the country in preparation for the next polls.

The party seeks to exploit the friendly political atmosphere created by the BBI to penetrate new terrains and to reclaim lost ground in a bid to shore up its membership across the country.

Gideon has also been distributing copies of BBI in his meetings contrary to other leaders pushing for the initiative.

In Migori, the senator opened a branch office and unveiled party officials as he sought to build a support base in the region dominated by Raila Odinga’s ODM. He also held similar engagements in Nyeri, Nairobi and Samburu where he met grassroots officials and Members of County Assembly.

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said their focus now was on ensuring the proposed changes are approved by a majority of Kenyans at the referendum.

The party, however, noted that it was ready to benefit from the political atmosphere created by the BBI as its strategises ahead of the next poll.

“We want to pass the BBI first. However, because we are not far from 2022 elections, we are already sowing seeds under the atmosphere that BBI has provided,” said Salat.

He added: “Kanu, from the very initial stages of the BBI process, has never wavered. We are counted among the top political parties that have stood with the handshake.”

Salat said parties have already started scheming for the next polls by trying to identify like-minded political formations.

Although Gideon has not formally announced a plan to run for the presidency, his messaging strongly indicates he could be eyeing one of the top political offices in the envisioned new dispensation.

Apart from the presidency, the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020 has proposed creation of the office of the Prime Minister and two deputies.

During his sensitisation meeting in Nairobi, Gideon disclosed plans for a major political alliance in readiness for the polls, revealing plans by pro-BBI politicians to field a joint presidential candidate in the succession race.

“We are now building support for the BBI, but when the time comes, we will work towards having one bullet,” Gideon said.

The BBI, which is spearheaded by Uhuru and Raila, enjoys backing of key political players, including Gideon, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, Maendeleo Chap Chap party boss Alfred Mutua and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader Isaac Ruto.

Gideon’s tours appear to target grassroots political leaders and MCAs who are critical in political mobilisation for both the BBI and the next polls.

While in Nyeri, Gideon held meetings with branch party officials and MCAs to popularise the BBI and strengthen Kanu.

“As Kanu, we are revamping our grassroots networks through continuous engagements with our party members. We held our county delegates meeting in Nyeri, which culminated in a sensitisation campaign to keep people abreast of the reform agenda espoused in the BBI report,” said Gideon after a meeting with party officials last Tuesday.

The senator described MCAs as important pillars in public participation and for the success of devolution.

From Left- Samburu Woman Representative Maison Leshomo, Baringo Woman Representative Gladwel Cheruiyot, Senator Gideon Moi and Former PS Richard Lesiampe. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Defend devolution

“At the grassroots, MCAs are important pillars in effecting public participation. In a consultative meeting with Samburu MCAs, I pledged to support their endeavours to defend devolution and forge a solid working relationship to better the lives of the pastoralists,” he said.

Speaking in Samburu on Saturday, Gideon highlighted how the proposed changes will benefit the pastoralist community.

According to Gideon, failure to fully embrace the initiative may mean the area continues to miss out on improved infrastructure, peace among neighbouring communities and access to quality education among other services.

“What is contained in the BBI will benefit the pastoralist community. If you don’t support the document, Samburu East will go. This constituency is of great help to the people and you can’t allow it to be scrapped,” he said.

He added: “As your leaders, we will always push to see the lives of our constituents and citizens improve. In as much as we can try our best to alleviate poverty, it comes down to numbers, and for the people to decide.”

Further, Gideon said precious minerals from underdeveloped pastoral areas go to waste because of poor leadership, which fails to harness resources that are already available.

He vouched for the BBI as the hope for such communities, saying the initiative will see neglected communities prosper if the document sails through at the referendum.

Members of Samburu County Assembly seized the moment to declare their support for the proposed changes.