Focus shifts to Treasury as Chebukati seeks BBI funds

Friday, December 11th, 2020 00:00 |
BBI secretariat members arrive at IEBC offices in Nairobi with BBI signatures from various counties. Photo/PD/File

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday said focus on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) now shifts to the National Treasury to release cash for the verification of signatures transmitted yesterday.

Chairman Wafula Chebukati, who received 4.4 million signatures and the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2010, for clearance ahead of a possible referendum, said his team had not budgeted for the plebiscite , and will therefore approach the Treasury for funds for the exercise. 

“We have received the signatures. We will  now request for a budget from the National Treasury. 

We have also developed a committee, which will undertake the exercise of signature verifications, but we shall not commence until we get the budget from the Exchequer,” Chebukati said.

National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed and his co-chair in the BBI secretariat Dennis Waweru presented the signatures.

 Chebukati said it was impossible for him to give a tentative period in which the verification process would start or end because  a team from the Commission will create a budget for the process, that will culminate into a referendum before July next year.

He said no work will start until he receives cash to kick off the process. 

“The management team will work out a budget and that will form our next move. We have been told we have been presented with 4.4 million signatures.

The (verification) exercise will commence after we have been given the budget.

We do not know how long that will take. On our next briefing, we shall be able to estimate and give the timing on how long it will take,” Chebukati said.

 But Kieni Member of Parliament Kanini Kega, who is the chairman of the National Assembly Budget Committee, allayed fears of  cash crisis, saying Parliament has the option of making a requisition and Treasury will make available cash for the campaign.

Kega, who was also present during the handing over of the signatures, said the law allowed for budgetary requests for expenses that was not budgeted for or had in adequate funding under Article 223 and if Treasury deems feet, it has the discretion to disburse money if they urgently and later move to Parliament for approval.

Acts accordingly

“I do not see any problem (with IEBC saying they do not have a budget) because they will put a request after getting the signatures, and I am hoping that they will put it tomorrow and then the Treasury, by next week will be able look in it and act accordingly. In any case, verification of signatures does not require a lot of funds.

It is just manpower so to speak and I do not  see any challenge,” Kega told People Daily.

 Waweru, on behalf of the secretariat, has requested IEBC to take as short time as possible in the verification exercise, saying they had even presented a soft copy of the signatures, to enable them enhance the process.   

 “These are 4.4 million signatures and chairman (Chebukati) if you verify one million signatures, you can give as a go ahead (pending verification of the rest) because we have given you 400 per cent more than the minimum requirement.

We will be waiting for your favorable reply and also to ease the processing of this verification and ensure  it happens within a very short time,” Waweru told the commission. 

After presenting the documents, Junet said the BBI secretariat had done its work by collecting the signatures and submitting them to the electoral body to play their role, saying: “We cannot force IEBC to do their job”. 

 But the move by the Secretariat, which ferried the signatures in two buses effectively closed doors for any possible amendments that were being pushed by Deputy President William Ruto and his allies that the referendum Bill should be tinkered or subjected to a vote in multiple choices form as conditions for backing the process.

 On Wednesday, Waweru, in a press conference,  said the Bill would be presented to the IEBC with one with “no changes by way of additions or subtraction and there is agreement to that”.

 Ruto and his allies have been seeking consensus by amending some clauses and insisted that BBI organizers should allow Kenyans to cherry pick the issues in the bill through multiple questions as opposed to voting to accept or reject the whole document.

 Yesterday, Chebukati said the commission would verify is the Bill present to them was the same as the one that was unveiled by Uhuru and Raila on November to ensure it was not interfered with, saying, “We shall ensure that the Bill which supporters signed for is the one that has been handed over to us today. 

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