Kenyans must engage BBI debate with a sober mindset

Friday, November 29th, 2019 00:00 |
Delegates follow proceedings of the BBI report launch at Bomas of Kenya. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report has now been launched, and Kenyans can now engage with it.

 In the first instance, it has now removed the heightened anxiety that had gripped politicians, who have been raising the political temperatures as they are won’t to whenever their political interests are challenged.

The BBI Report is the product of a task force that was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, to go round the country collecting views from Kenyans on how to build a more just, fairer and prosperous country, where citizens do not go for each other’s throats during every election.

The BBI itself was birthed by Uhuru and the man he beat during the 2017 elections, Raila Odinga, after a peace deal that has now come to be known as the Handshake.

The most interesting surprise is that politicians who had become antagonistic due to the BBI are now talking reconciliation, and the rhetoric has considerably toned down. It is to be hoped that they will maintain this decorum going forward.

Secondly, it is clear from the report that there is no tsunami that is going to sweep anybody into the ocean, as threatened by one section of the BBI divide, nor are there any customised positions that have been tailor-made for some people, as asserted by their protagonists.

Sober approach

 It is to be hoped that this will lead to toning down of rhetoric by both sides, to allow a sober reading and analysis of the contents of the report.

Equally as important is the fact that the report has not gone out of its way to position itself for implementation through a referendum, leaving that decision to be made by the necessity of implementation. This will facilitate a sober approach by all parties.

Thirdly, the team apparently maintained fidelity to the views they gathered. Some of the recommendations of the report have not aligned to some of the radical proposals that were being pushed by some of the more vocal powers behind the BBI.

That’s why the report stuck to 47 counties, and did not bring a new layer of administration, the Presidential system remains, election of the head of state by universal suffrage, as well as maintaining 290 constituencies and all nominated and affirmative action seats.

Things like increased subventions to counties by National government, and banning of all public servants from trading with Government have also been on the public wishlist for long.

Kenya is a work in progress, and lots of work needs to be done to achieve nationhood. Kenyans need to see the BBI in this light. It is easy for Kenyans to despair that too many resources keep on being expended on reports, many of which are still gathering dust on shelves.

Kenyans should use BBI as another rung in the ladder of nationhood, which is built one step at a time.

Critically, Uhuru has promised Kenyans that the report will be distributed to all to enable Kenyans to read, digest, and the engage in sober debate, and accept or reject its recommendations as they find suitable. This is the mindset that Kenyans should engage now that the report is out, and in the public domain.

Finally, the government must not become frozen by BBI. There is still a country to run, an economy in deep trouble, a disaster in West Pokot where entire families have been wiped out by a mudslide, the Big 4 Agenda to prosecute, the corruption battle facing headwinds, among other urgent national pursuits. The President cannot afford to let his eye off that ball. [email protected]

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