President Uhuru Kenyatta yet again gave the strongest hint of endorsing ODM leader Raila Odinga to succeed him in next year’s polls
The Head of State yesterday broke protocol to invite his handshake partner Raila to speak after he had delivered his official address for the 57th Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, yesterday.
Uhuru reiterated that the botched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to amend the Constitution is just a dream deferred and will be revived to achieve inclusivity in government through an expanded Executive. President made similar remarks during his State of the Nation Address in Parliament last month.
The BBI proposed creation of positions of Prime Minister, two deputies and official Opposition Leader.
“Although it encountered some legal obstacles, I can only say that BBI is just a dream deferred. One day, someday, it will happen, because the country cannot survive ethnic majoritarianism and exclusion just as it cannot survive unfair and skewed representation. This is a design defect that we must fix,” said Uhuru.
Making his last Jamhuri Day address, Uhuru praised Raila for offering advice on implementation of development projects before inviting him to address the national event.
“I would have made a mistake if I didn’t recognise one of us here whom we have been talking with for the last 14 months when I started this project of Uhuru Gardens,” he said.
“He has given me advice. I say thank you Raila Odinga for what you have helped me to achieve. It seems these people want you to address them,” he added.
The President revisited reasons for his handshake with Raila following the divisive 2017 General Election that he said cost the country Sh1 trillion in business loses.
“When the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and I shook hands on March 9, 2018, it was because we saw a crack on the wall of our nation. We had run two elections that cost the country Sh1 trillion in business loses and we were staring at a nation divided right in the middle,” said Uhuru.
“It was difficult, but the necessity, the reason and the recognition that we as Kenyans needed each other, nation before self, as our forefathers had taught us to come together, reinforced our resolve,” he added.
The Head of State said the winner-takes-it-all system and sense of exclusion in government was to blame for the 2007 post-poll violence in which over 1,000 people were killed and thousands more displaced.
“In 2007, we ran into another architectural defect in our nation building project. We discovered that the politics of exclusion in which the ‘winner takes it all’ was not good for our country. We were bold enough to change the Constitution and expand the executive in order to accommodate the excluded,” he said.
Uhuru noted that nation-building is not a sprint but a relay, where no single person can make the undertaking alone. He reminded Kenyans that the struggle for independence and liberation was as a result of teamwork.
Uhuru said the founding fathers of the nation demonstrated that nation-building is like building a house.
“This endeavour is indeed a product of teamwork, not individualism. They built a firm foundation for a prosperous Kenya. Others built the walls and others roofed the house. Everyone had a role to play. And no role was greater than the other,” he said.
“The same is today as it was then. We are building a house called Kenya and there is no place for one-manism in this project. It is the collective work of every able-bodied Kenyan. And yes, we will disagree sometimes, but in our disagreements, we must remain respectful,” Uhuru added.
The Head of State said that change from one party state to multi-partyism was part of the continued building of a united country.
“In December 1991, we discovered that the one-party system was a design error in our nationhood. And the advancement of the Republic had outlived its usefulness. We made renovations and changed the system,” said Uhuru.
In his remarks, Raila made a thinly-veiled attack against Ruto over his links to Weston Hotel, which sits on a disputed piece of land that he claimed was part of the newly rehabilitated Uhuru Gardens.
He said that the Uhuru Gardens had also been grabbed by greedy individuals who “don’t see any open space” before it was reclaimed by state.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Weston Hotel are currently battling for the ownership of the 0.773-hectare land opposite Wilson Airport.
“Here next to Weston hotel, which is part of this grounds…In Langata Primary School there are torture chambers that have been preserved by the national museum.
“This land had been grabbed by those land grabbers who don’t see any open space but you managed to retrieve it back for the benefit of our people and it is going to remain truly Uhuru Gardens,” said Raila.
The ODM leader also hailed the President for his development agenda, saying the fruits of his work will be seen with time.
“What you have done is great. What you have done will be recognised many years after you have left,” he said.