BBI report set for handover as Raila’s return eagerly awaited

Monday, July 13th, 2020 00:00 |
Opposition leader Raila Odinga (centre) with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Suna East MP and National Assembly Minority Leader Junet Mohammed when they visited him in Dubai where he is recuperating from after a surgery. Photo/PD/COURTESY

 Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are putting in place strategies to ensure the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report is fully implemented in the face of anticipated opposition from forces allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

The revelations came amid reports that the final report would be presented to the two leaders as early as this week when Raila returns to the country from Dubai where he has been recuperating after undergoing a surgery.

The presentation, by the taskforce headed by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, may be conducted virtually, owing to the prevailing Health ministry guidelines discouraging public gatherings, according to Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango.  

Onyango, while revealing that Raila will return to the country “any time” this week, said preparations were underway to have the report handed over within the shortest time possible and in a manner that would respect the regulations issued to tame the spread of the Covid-19.

“Raila is scheduled to arrive in the country anytime this week and receiving of the BBI report will be among the first activities he will engage in after settling.

What I have heard is that the report will be delivered virtually, which I think is because of the current situation; it will be beamed live for members of the public to follow,” Onyango said.

Allies of the two leaders revealed that a strategy was being crafted to ensure the final report does not encounter any obstacles, mainly from the Ruto camp.

This follows fears that Ruto’s allies were putting together a strategy to rally their supporters to reject the report on grounds that it could undermine the DP’s 2022 presidential ambitions.

Fall out

After falling out with his boss in the Jubilee Party, Ruto has spent the last three months meeting delegations both in Nairobi and in his Eldoret home.

Among those he has hosted are church leaders and groups of traders, whose message to them may have included the expected referendum following the handing over of the BBI report. 

None of the BBI Taskforce members were available yesterday for a comment on when they plan to hand over the report whose release has been delayed.

However, a source in Raila’s office who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the two leaders have laid down a strategy to ensure a seamless implementation of the report using state and political organs.

The strategy, according to the source, entails the use of government networks, governors, MPs and senators, who would then sell the report to the public.

Reached for comment yesterday, National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi revealed that MPs had been “hinted” to that they would play a key role in not only selling the BBI recommendations to the public, but also in enacting various pieces of legislation to give life to the report’s recommendations.

“There will be suggestions from the BBI report that will require an Executive Order to implement. There are legislation issues that will come to Parliament.

That one we have already been given a signal about, that is why you have seen the changes that have been happening so as to align the House leadership in support of the BBI,” Mbadi told People Daily.

“We have also been told that there will be changes that will require a referendum.

But before we embark on the process, it is for the two leaders (Uhuru and Raila) to give a signal based on the recommendations and based on what they think is the correct timeline,” he added.

Mbadi further stated that he had “gathered” that Raila and Uhuru have been in constant talk regarding the BBI report and “when he comes back they will agree on when and how they will receive the report, maybe after he has taken some days off to rest.”

The two leaders are said to be aware of plans by the Ruto camp to derail the smooth implementation of the report.

“The two leaders are concerned that Ruto might use the network of churches whose leaders he has been meeting and enticing with goodies even during the pandemic period as well as the MCAs who he has started recruiting,” the source said.

Jumping ship

 During the BBI countrywide rallies, which were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was the governors who were given the role of organising them and it is during the period that county chiefs hitherto allied to Ruto, such as Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) and Murang’a’s Mwangi wa Iria, abandoned him.

Further, the ruthless purge on Ruto allies in the Senate and the National Assembly has been linked to the BBI agenda.

Until last week, ODM and Jubilee Party were fighting over the leadership and membership of the Delegated Legislation and Justice and Legal Affairs committees, with Mbadi arguing that some MPs seconded to the two committees by Jubilee were allied to Ruto and would, therefore, sabotage the smooth passage of the BBI report.

But Kimilili MP Didmas Barasa, a key ally of the DP, said they do not intend to fight the BBI report even if it proposes the expansion of the Executive, which the DP has been opposed to.

“We have no problem with whatever they will be proposing because we don’t want to cause divisions in the country so long as whoever will be coming in (as president) will be elected by the people.

It does not matter whether we will have 10 deputy presidents or prime ministers, we do not have a problem,” the MP said.

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