BBI report to await decision of county revenue impasse

Monday, September 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Building Bridges Initiative taskforce chair Yusuf Haji, vice chair Adams Oloo and secretary Paul Mwangi when they addressed the media in Nairobi earlier this year. Photo/PD/FILE

 President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have put on hold plans to officially receive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report until the standoff over the proposed county revenue sharing formula is resolved.

The two political partners had been scheduled to officially receive the final report fine-tuned by the Committee on the Implementation of the BBI to a United Kenya Task Force, led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji before the end of September.

The report would then be handed over to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification.

The electoral body is tentatively expected to take at least one and half months verifying the report before subjecting it to public participation not later than January.

Should the report pass the test of verification and public participation, IEBC would be expected to prepare for a national referendum between February and March, 2021.

This would subsequently kick-start a process that would see Kenya adopting a new Constitution before the 2022 General Election.

“The ceremony to receive the report has been put on hold until after the stand off in the Senate over the counties revenue sharing formula is sorted out.

They cannot risk rolling out the BBI report until after that because they know governors will play an important role in the whole process,” said a source.

Sources intimated to the People Daily that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila have already put in place mechanisms to ensure the country holds a referendum to amend the Constitution by August next year.

This would grant the country ample time to implement the new document ahead of the 2022 polls, according to sources close to the duo.

A tentative roadmap drawn up by the President and the former premier indicates that the race towards a referendum could start in earnest any time next month to ensure the next election is held under a new constitutional order.

Yesterday, Joint Secretaries of the Taskforce, Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi, separately told People Daily that they are awaiting an appointment to hand over the report to the two leaders.

 “We have been ready with the report for months. All we are waiting for is for State House to grant us an appointment to hand it over to the President and Raila,” said Mwangi.

Kimani on his part, disclosed that the handing over had been hampered by the containment measures put in place to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

Committee that was gazetted in January by the President, was scheduled to have handed over the report by June 30, but the event was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hands over

Jubilee Party  Vice-Chairman David Murathe and Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli, who have been some of the biggest proponents of the BBI, are optimistic that Kenya would go into the next polls under a new Constitution.

“I am surprised that some people are opposing a referendum yet they have not seen the final report. People are taking positions on a document they have not seen.

A document that has not been unveiled or presented to the two principals, “ Murathe said during a recent TV interview.

On the other hand, Atwoli disclosed that the amended Constitution would create an expanded government that would accommodate all Kenyans.

“Kenyans should ready themselves for an all-inclusive government after the next election.

Once we pass the BBI report in the referendum, we shall no longer have the perennial problem of the winner takes-it-all system of government. Everybody would be accommodated,” Atwoli  said.

Another BBI supporter, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, confirmed that their team is determined to ensure Kenyans usher in a new governance structure through a referendum before the next General Election.

“Once IEBC puts out the question, we shall clearly know our enemies and deal with them accordingly.

Those shouting loudest against a referendum should hold their horses,” Kutuny said.

Sources privy to the BBI report hinted that it has recommended creation of a new structure of governance that would comprise the President and his deputy and Prime Minister and two deputies.

Proponents of the BBI are optimistic that the country could have a referendum any time from May but not later than August to enable the country good time to implement the new document ahead of the 2022 polls.

The Haji-led committee has been tipped to be retained to handle the entire constitutional amendments till implementation.

Sources said Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya have been reportedly directed to expedite the process to fill up the vacancies in IEBC left by the five commissioners who resigned.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati says they are up to the task subject to availability of funds.

“IEBC has always been ready for the plebiscite as long as we are given enough funds. But let us cross the bridge when we reach there,” Chebukati said.

On the other hand, the chairman of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, Kanini Kega, said MPs would be more flexible to accommodate proposals of a referendum with more funds.

Kega disclosed that there is no provision for the estimated Sh2 billion required for a referendum in the 2020/2021 budget, which means a supplementary budget will be moved to provide the resources.

“Once the BBI makes the recommendation and the two, President Kenyatta and Raila request us to do so, we shall immediately act. We are ready,” Kega said.

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