‘I disagree with judges but let’s move on’
President Uhuru Kenyatta has faulted the courts for halting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process but said he will accept the ruling and move on.
He said that he had always respected the rule of law even when he was faced with charges of crime against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC), adding that he will still obey the court verdict on BBI just as he did when the Supreme Court annulled his election in 2017.
“I am a person who has always respected the rule of law. I said when I was vying for my first time that regardless of being elected or not elected, I will still obey the ICC. I do not speak what I do not mean.
I was elected and I still appeared before ICC. When they said that my election was null and void, I accepted, moved on and even this one, I will accept and move on.”
This even as he took on Deputy President William Ruto for opposing the attempts to amend the Constitution and accused him of pitting Kenyans against each instead of providing solutions.
Reacting for the first time to last week’s Court of Appeal judgement, Uhuru said halting the BBI process would deny a majority of Kenyans resources and opportunities and frustrate efforts to build a cohesive nation.
“I believe we have denied Kenyans their resources, we have denied Kenyans equity, we have denied funds to go to mashinani (grassrootS) through the Ward fund,” he said.
Last Friday, a seven-judge Bench of the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that declared the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 unconstitutional.
He said it was unfortunate the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court verdict that annulled BBI. “Unfortunately the Courts have ruled the way they have ruled, I believe that they have been misguided in that process,” he said.
The Bill sought to, among others, create the position of prime minister and two deputies, create a Ward fund, increase allocation to counties from 15 per cent to at least 35 per cent, create a youth commission and a seven-year tax holiday for young entrepreneurs.
“This is what Kenyans have lost. I have not lost anything. Just the feeling of sadness that for political reasons we deny our own people something that would have not only improved their lives and livelihoods, but made Kenya a cohesive society,” he said.
In an interview with media editors at State House Nairobi on Monday, President Kenyatta said instead of providing solutions to problems facing Kenyans, some politicians were capitalising on their poverty and placing them in classes.
“Who are the people who are denied resources when we don’t deal with these issues of inequity?
It is the people, not the elite. But somehow you will now want to blame poverty on that class as opposed to that class instead of dealing with the root cause of the political problems which is providing resources, giving opportunities to every Kenyan,” he said.
He said he was shocked at Ruto’s opposition to the BBI saying “the issues informing the BBI are the same ones that brought them together” in 2013.
“If I want to now expand that, what is the problem? If we go back to 2013 it has been my agenda of bringing people together.
If the divisions of 2007 brought us together, what is the problem if it brings other people on board?” he posed.
The President urged for calm saying his move to unite the country doesn’t mean limiting anyone’s chances to succeed him.
“It doesn’t deny you your chances. It is not Uhuru who elects, it is Kenyans.”
He further expressed regret that some of the issues sparking the division that has rocked his administration stem from his unity efforts.
“What’s the problem if we have a situation where, regardless of who wins, no Kenyan has lost?” he asked.
He regretted that some people had forgotten why he and his ‘Handshake’ partner Raila Odinga were looking to change the Constitution, but for short term political gain decided to deny Kenyans what, he said, was in their best interest.
The President said that while Constituency Development Fund (CDF) provides some resources to the needy students, is not sufficient especially in areas that are heavily populated like in informal settlements in urban areas.
“When you have a Member of Parliament receiving Sh100 million and another one receiving Sh100 million, one is distributing Sh100 million to 50,000 people and another distributing Sh100 million to one million people. Is that equity?
Will a child in Mathare or Kibira ever have an opportunity to go to university if the highest bursary he can ever receive is Sh5,000?” he posed.
He rubbished claims that BBI was a ploy to extend his term in office or propel Raila to power.
“BBI has nothing to do with Uhuru wanting to continue because there is no clause in BBI that says the incumbent is going to continue for another 10 years. There is no clause. This is all propaganda to poison the people’s minds.”
He urged Kenyans to carefully choose their next leader.
“It is not for me to dictate to Kenyans who to elect, it is for Kenyans to decide what is in their best interest.
It is my hope and prayer that they would do that in a manner that looks after not their short term interests but their long term survivability as citizens and the long term stability of our nation,” he said.