Delink Building Bridges Initiative process from partisan political interests

Monday, January 20th, 2020 21:08 |

It is apparent politicians are deviating from the objectives of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in pursuit of selfish interests to the detriment of national good.

What started as a bold move to heal decades-old wounds caused by ethnic chauvinism, electoral injustices and socio-economic deprivations has become a political spectacle.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odings initiated BBI, they zeroed in a nine-point agenda that broadly included how to end ethnic division, bring about inclusivity, solve the problem of polarising elections and enhance security.

The BBI team was also tasked with seeking ways on how to deal with corruption, lack of national ethos, responsibility and rights, shared prosperity and enhancing devolution.

Its report launched last November summarised the results of its work gathered from a cross-section of Kenyans, including politicians. 

Some BBI Steering Committee members from left Yusuf Haji (chair), Adams Oloo and Paul Mwangi (joint secretary). Photo/PD/FILE

The task force paid attention to gender ethnic and religious adversity, youth, elders, persons living with disability, civil society and the private sector, capturing what it described in its report as the ‘face of Kenya’.

The report titled: Building Bridges to a United Kenya: From a Nation of Blood Ties to a Nation of Ideals concluded that politics has become too adversarial while trying to entrench itself in every facet of life.

The events of the last two weekends vindicate these findings. While it is imperative that political will drives the process to the next level, politicians should not lead this process under the guise of “public consultations.”

A structured civic education exercise chaperoned by the BBI secretariat in conjunction with legal and constitutional experts and the media should champion this agenda devoid of political hubris and shenanigans. 

While it is inevitable that the outcome of the consolidation of the views of wananchi on the political, social and economic reforms they want will have to go through a referendum, Kenyans must accomplish a thorough national conversation on the BBI report.

The BBI report should be tabled before a national convention and  the final recommendations involving the people debated and refined and delinked from the political interests that risk derailing the objective of reconciliation and national cohesion.

Kenya does not belong to politicians, but the people. As the main stakeholders in the evolving chapter in Kenya’s history, the people have the inalienable right to prominently occupy space on the national platform for their voice to be heard.

Kenyans are tired of elections that bring the economy to a standstill every few years, as the majority are experiencing since the 2017 election, thanks to adversarial politics.

The report surmises that Kenyans would like a more stable and predictable politics, that is democratic and produces governance at the national and county levels inclusive of our ethnic, religious, and regional diversity.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi spoke for millions of Kenyans with high hopes in BBI when he cautioned in Kakamega: 

“Now we must make Kenyans the centre of BBI and not Individuals. There are nine pillars in this initiative; let us not run with only one and forget the other eight.” 

Mudavadi’s caution is in tandem with the BBI team’s report that the country is “far more worried by the lack of jobs and income, inequality and frustrated hopes, that our continuity as a unified and secure country is uncertain should we persist in the present course.” Let us be forewarned about politicians. [email protected]

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