Politicians must slow down on high-octane BBI rhetoric

Monday, February 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Deputy President Ruto, President Uhuru and Raila Odinga during BBI Report launch. Photo/Courtesy

The last couple of weeks have been politically tumultuous for the country.  Political temperatures have hit fever pitch—and the gauge is still climbing.

Kenyans have been treated to a Tower of Babel by politicians. One would be forgiven for thinking that Kenya is in the middle of an election campaign.

The battle lines are drawn, and the formations all but undeclared. This is proving very unhealthy for the country.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)  started off as a noble idea meant to unify the country after a bruising presidential election in 2017, where President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party steamrollered opposition leader Raila Odinga’s NASA coalition.

Part of the fundamentals of the BBI is to neutralise political intolerance and make political competition a relatively pacific activity, so that no Kenya will ever again have to suffer harm, injury or death due to politics.

What has been happening in the last few weeks is high-octane politics that has started sparking anxiety among Kenyans. Never mind we still have two and a half years to go before the next General Election. 

The country needs to press the pause button, take a deep breath, and take a step back. Politicians must retrace their steps to the launch of the BBI report.

At the Bomas of Kenya launch, a plan  was mooted to make copies of the report available to allow Kenyans read for themselves, understand and debate the various proposals. 

Sensitisation and discussion forums to review the proposals would then follow, leading up to a convention on “the Kenya We  Want.”

But what the cacophony politicians has treated Kenyans to in the last one month has completely drowned out every voice of reason. The BBI seems to have brought out the worst in leaders. 

Kenya needs to reset to sobriety.

The country must go back to the drawing board. The two BBI originators—the President and Raila—need to put the process back on track.

Calling off all political sensitisation rallies would be a good starting point. This would give room to the BBI steering committee, led by Senator Yusuf Haji, room to do its work.

The steering committee’s term was extended, with a new mandate to validate views in the report, as well as harvest any further views from Kenyans. They must be given room to do their work.

The committee has done a commendable job so far. Working against the backdrop of political bickering and brinkmanship, they put together a report that has found wide acceptance among all political formations. This must not be lost.

When should politicians come into the process?

When the final document is compiled and launched, the politicians can now take over, and stomp the ground popularising it.

The current popularity contest among political formations will only add to an already toxic political environment, and achieve a result completely discordant with the lofty ideals of the BBI.

This is the only way that Kenya can regain sobriety, and get the BBI process back on track. And this issue is urgent.

Equally urgent  are the huge challenges facing the country, and calling for concerted efforts to deal with. 

The country is beset by a major locust invasion that has seen swarms of the insects sweeping inwards from Somali and Ethiopia, wiping all vegetation, including crops, in their wake.

They now threaten the country’s breadbasket, a potential catastrophe that must not be allowed to happen.

The country’s economy is still sagging, two years after the 2017 election. Urgent recovery measures need to be instituted to ensure there is at least two years of a working economy before the country plunges into electioneering for the 2022 general election. 

The unerring focus on pending bills that characterised the last three months of the years seemed to have faded away.

The four pillars of Uhuru’s legacy agenda need a lot more of his personal attention and driving skills, as the clock ticks towards the end of his second and final term. 

A lull from political activity would give the President the space to give his undivided  attention to the these and other equally compelling and urgent national imperatives. [email protected]

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