BBI offers us platform to exercise sovereign power

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Some BBI Steering Committee members from left Yusuf Haji (chair), Adams Oloo and Paul Mwangi (joint secretary). Photo/PD/FILE

Hesbon Owilla

Kenyans are increasingly witnessing a number of leaders speaking their mind, even defying their leaders to speak their “truth”.

Former Jubilee vice chair David Murathe, MP Alice Wahome and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli are some who have used their freedom of expression to espouse fairly topical and sometimes controversial issues.

Others are senators James Orengo and Kipchumba Murkomen, and MPs Junet Mohamed, Oscar Sudi and Moses Kuria, just to name a few.

 Like them or not, some of these leaders have articulated themselves quite well and solidly on what they believe in or purpose to defend. 

Yet, the public perception is that not many of these politicians have the interest the mwananchi when taking their stand on various issues.

And even when they do, there is  always a political class that seems to benefit more.

Granted, a sociopolitical dispensation that allows leaders to express themselves freely should not only be celebrated and protected, but also taken seriously as a basis upon which the public can engage in robust debate. 

Notably some of the issues that have been raised by the politicians are fairly pertinent.

Take Wahome’s case, for instance. Her claims that President Uhuru Kenyatta is out to extend his term should not be taken lightly, coming from a Jubilee stalwart.  

Among the many issues she raised are Uhuru’s handshake with Opposition leader Raila Odinga, whom she calls a mercenary for hire.

But we may need to ask whether she is speaking for the mwananchi, or she is also a mercenary for hire.

If speaking for Wanjiku, is it possible to trace her records and establish the extent to which her voice has been articulating the issues that resonate with the citizenry?

The alternate side of the coin is a lot more interesting, because if she is also a mercenary like she accuses others, why should we believe her and not support the BBI?

The BBI has elicited a heated debate, especially on the proposal to expand the Executive. In a democracy, such public conversations are welcome.

Let as many politicians as they come express themselves on these issues. 

In fact, we need not be talking about who will become what. The crux should be to what extent can we use the window period given to us to give our robust views on what kind of political dispensation we need.

We cannot focus on who will take what position when we have not clearly articulated what that position will entail and, as Kenyans we just need to express what we want and ensure our views are reflected in the final report.

Two things stand out. 

First, if the BBI process births the position of the Prime Minister and proposes that it is occupied by the leader of the party with the majority in Parliament, it will be upon different political parties to position themselves.

Secondly, if Kenyans in their wisdom change the  Constitution and overwhelmingly vote for Uhuru’s party to the extent that it garners a majority in Parliament, no one would have the audacity to stop such an endorsement of the President to continue in some capacity. 

Article 1 of the Constitution is very clear: All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya.

Failure to discuss these issues broadly and intensely will certainly lead us into the narrow paths of political interest curved by politicians. The writer is a PhD candidate on Political Communication

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