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BBI is not a priority, says Ruto during Vihiga visit

DP William Ruto with Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika during a rally at Mauche in Njoro, Nakuru County, on November 25, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed fresh attempts by proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to revive the push for constitutional changes.

According to the DP, changing the Constitution is not a priority at the moment.

Ruto, who took his bottom-up economic model campaigns to Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi’s Vihiga backyard, appeared to be reacting to remarks President Uhuru Kenyatta made during Jamhuri Day celebrations.

The president said: “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 President Kenyatta.

The court rejected a bid to make fundamental changes to the Constitution.

Dr Ruto termed the push for a constitutional amendment as “unwarranted” at the moment. He said Kenyans ought to focus on how to revive the economy and create job opportunities for the youth.

“As a nation, we don’t need to be told that we should change the Constitution, what we need is to know how we can empower the youth, women and small business people,” argued Ruto.

The BBI was a product of the handshake between Uhuru and ODM chief Raila Odinga in 2018, it proposed an expanded Executive which DP Ruto has opposed.

“If they think a Prime Minister’s job is the only job let us warn them that even boda boda and women selling groceries have jobs which are well catered for in bottom-up economic model,” said Ruto.

Ruto told his supporters that the bottom-up economic model offers a realistic solution to addressing poverty.

“We have to embrace this economic model that promises to give boda boda riders and women groups financial empowerment. It is a sure way of empowering those at the bottom level in the society,” said Ruto.

Ruto said his government will allocate over Sh50 billion to micro and medium businesses and another Sh100 billion to housing, agro-processing and value addition chains to benefit young Kenyans.

He addressed supporters in Emuhaya, Luanda, Vihiga and Hamisi constituencies. Ruto appealed to residents of Vihiga to back his 2022 presidential bid, describing himself as the best bet to succeed Uhuru.

BBI was a product of the handshake between Uhuru and ODM chief Raila Odinga in 2018. [Courtesy]

The DP took a swipe at Mudavadi, saying the former vice president has no nothing to show in terms of development in Vihiga despite serving in government for years.

According to Ruto, the Jubilee administration had initiated more projects in Vihiga County than the previous regimes.

He cited several roads, including Esirulo-Magada-Mbale, Magada-Luanda, Gisambai-Shamakhokho and Luanda-Stendikisa.

“We also started three technical colleges during, my rivals should show us what they have done for the people of Vihiga.”

Ruto asked locals to support United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party which he is associated with.

“We have moved out of the era of regional and tribal political formations, time has come for us to support national parties like UDA which has a backing of 170 MPs across the country, including ten from Western,” said Ruto.

Ruto was accompanied by several elected and aspiring politicians from Western who urged Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leaders to consider working with the deputy president.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said UDA offers Western a chance to groom a future president “because it is a national party”.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said the Luhya community has been supporting Raila since 2007 for the top seat but must go back to the drawing board.

“Raila has used us for long, it’s time we abandoned him and charted our own political journey by joining hands with Ruto,” said Barasa.