Senior government technocrats from Mt Kenya region met yesterday morning at a hotel in Nairobi in what sources said was aimed at turning around rhetoric on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in central Kenya.
The meeting attended by principal secretaries and senior parastatal officials was chaired by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya at the La Mada Hotel off Thika highway in Ruaraka.
Sources who attended the meeting said the technocrats were asked to chip in any assistance they could to the BBI cause especially in their rural areas.
The technocrats are also said to have discussed a proposal to take a more prominent role in wresting control of the initiative from Uhuru-allied hardliners who were blamed for scaring moderate voices from supporting the constitutional reform moment.
“It was made clear that as government appointees, we have a responsibility of ensuring the BBI, which is a government project, succeeds. We are to go out there and tell the people how failure to pass the BBI will come back to haunt them,” said a technocrat who attended the meeting.
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This initiative is among a raft of measures that Uhuru allies are rolling out in a bid to counter Deputy President William Ruto’s Tangatanga faction, which appears to have succeeded in inciting locals against the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill.
One of the key issues agreed upon by President Kenyatta’s parliamentary allies is to remove 2022 General Election talk from the BBI campaigns to cure the perception that BBI is intertwined with the presidential election where ODM leader Raila Odinga is viewed to be Ruto’s main challenger.
Supporters of the Uhuru-Raila handshake have also resolved to distance Jubilee’s Kieleweke faction from coordination of BBI campaigns by way of selecting BBI secretariat members who are not hardliners when it comes to the presidential election.
In the new Mount Kenya parliamentary team to spearhead the BBI drive, the Kieleweke wing of MPs Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town) and Maina Kamanda who crisscrossed the region drumming up support for BBI and the handshake, were not included.
Instead, Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru and Igembe North MP Maoka Maore were selected to lead the popularisation drive. Other members include MPs Peter Mwathi (Limuru), Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo) and Jane Wanjuki (Embu).
Mr Kiburu told Saturday Standard that they intend to reach out to elected leaders from across the political divide – those who lost their positions in 2017 and those aspiring to seek elective posts in 2022 – for the campaign drive that will be undertaken until June this year.
“We want to demystify lies that have been peddled by anti-BBI proponents and we shall do this by incorporating our rivals, competitors and aspiring candidates so that we reach a common goal for BBI. After the drive, each politician will retreat to his or her political affiliation,” Kibiru said.
In the new political line up, governors will spearhead the exercise at the county level but will be backed by parliamentary caucuses while members of the county assembly will drive the reforms agenda at the grassroots level.
Ms Mwaniki, a member of the secretariat, said they will conduct a mass civic education drive in the region so that residents understand the direct benefits they will accrue from the proposed reforms.
“We have decided to remove the controversy in the BBI discussion and the 2022 General Election to win the masses. BBI is a very good document that seeks to benefit the region but locals have been incited against it,” she said.