Referendum signature drive gathers full momentum

Monday, November 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Anthony Omwandu, a Mombasa resident participates in the collection of BBI signatures at the Treasury Square on Saturday. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

The Building Bridges  Initiative (BBI) signature collection drive has gained momentum across the country as the political class and the local administration hit the ground running to collect one million signatures in support of proposed constitutional amendments.

The countrywide drive has received an overwhelming response from Kenyans who turned up in large numbers to append their signatures in readiness to start the process of constitutional amendments

Mombasa legislators led by Senator Mohamed Faki and Coast Regional coordinator John Elungata said the proposed changes have captured their key demands such historical land issues, Blue Economy, equity and inclusivity.

The region is banking the report to solve the historical land injustices; it will hugely reap from the multi-billion blue economy and solve the exclusion matrix as well as marginalisation of the region.

Senator Faki said: “Coast residents stand to benefit immensely from the proposed changes and should overwhelmingly support the BBI process for a prosperous and united Kenya. 

On her part, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said the BBI aims at strengthening the current constitution and called on Kenyans to support it for a better and brighter future.

“Women in the country stand to benefit significantly from the process and bring to end the issue of gender bias or poor representation,” Mboko said.

In Kwale, Msambweni sub-county residents thronged the Gobato area to append their signatures to support the BBI referendum.

Those who spoke said they support the constitutional imitative as it seeks to unite the diverse Kenyan communities.

 “BBI is a step in the direction and seeks to increase money sent to the counties from 15 to 35 per cent, saying the huge devolved resources would transform the hitherto marginalised parts of Kenya,” said Boga.

Biggest beneficiaries

In Tana River Interior and coordination CAS Hussein Dado has urged residents of Tana River county to sign the BBI support form as they stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the constitutional changes.

“BBI is the game changer. Let’s not think twice. Since we have trust in President Uhuru Kenyatta let’s follow his initiative, he wants to leave a legacy,” he said.

Tana River County Commissioner Rioba Mbogai who was present urged residents to sign so as to show support for the constitutional amendments.

“When doing this process of constitutional changes let’s do it peacefully to prevent any form of tension or violence which is what BBI is after.”

In Kiambu the county aims to collect at least a million signatures. 

 Led by Governor James Nyoro the leaders including members of the county assembly, women and youth crusaders vowed to hit the target before the end of this week.

Nyoro said Kiambu alone can raise the numbers required in law to meet the threshold, with a countrywide target of four million.

“Besides increasing representation of the people, the proposal to raise allocations from the exchequer to regional governments from 15 to 35 per cent annually will transform infrastructure and enhance service delivery,” Nyoro added.

Laikipia county have drummed their support for the BBI noting that it will go a long way in addressing various challenges affecting the locals.

Led by Governor Ndiritu Muriithi the leaders said that the increase to county allocations as addressed in the document will ensure enough resources are sent to the devolved unit to initiate developmental project that will lift people off poverty.

Muriithi who was speaking when he oversaw the opening of a new classy hotel in Nyahururu town added it was seeking to end hostility among the diverse communities during the election cycle.

In Kisumu town area MP Fred Ouda and his challengers among them Dr Joshua Oron and businessman Kevin Kwere seek to outsmart each other by collecting the highest numbers of signatures.

Voluntary process

Already several dates for signing the document in various polling stations have been announced by the politicians and their lieutenants.

In Kisumu West, MP Olago Aluoch  and an aspirant seeking to unseat him businessman Kennedy Ochieng are scrambling to have the highest number of signatures.

Kisumu governor Anyang Nyongo said: “Because this document will change the lives of our people,we want them to sign it very fast so that it can move to the next stage.”

In Murang’a, Senator Irungu Kang’ata has said 80 per cent of the public shall adopt the BBI report during the referendum.

Kang’ata said with all the top leaders having agreed to support the report most of Kenyans will support it.

Speaking at ACK St Peter’s, Kenol during the launch of the collection of signatures in Murang’a, the senator said the process is expected to be peaceful as there will be no pulling of sides by leaders. 

“A contested referendum is more expensive than a non contested one and this will save us billions of money” he said.

Kang’ata however said nobody will be forced to append their signatures saying this will be a voluntary process.

Maragua MP Mary Waithira who had accompanied the senator said Mt Kenya region stands to benefit from the BBI. 

“We shall be giving out booklets which have the report simplified for the common person to understand” she said

Chiefs, assistant chiefs and Coordinators in Busia county have embarked on the BBI signature collection exercise that kicked off in the area, governor Sospeter Ojaamong has revealed.

Ojaamong said BBI books have arrived adding that they will be taken to grassroot where chiefs will supervise the appending of signatures by area residents.

“We want to ensure the  target is met by Thursday ahead of Friday’s deadline when we are expected to submit our  returns to Nairobi. I am optimistic we shall achieve the target.

  In Vihiga, Governor Wilber Ottichilo has promised to mobilize the entire county leadership to sensitize residents on the document.

Ottichilo said he would work with all leaders in the county, including MPs, senators and MCAs to ensure the report is fully supported.

Constitutional amendment

The county boss said there is a need to ensure residents understand the issues in the document before collecting their signatures.

Ottichilo said he is targeting over 100,000 signatures from Vihiga saying they have been given short time to collect the signatures.

Bomet governor Hillary Barchok was absent during the launch in Bomet and Kericho counties to support the constitutional amendment.

Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader Isaac Ruto who is leading the exercise in the region announced the start of the process, which he said will be completed on Wednesday.

He said the process will be spearheaded by chiefs and their assistant chiefs in their administrative areas.

Reporting by Harrison Kivisu, Henry Andanje, Eric Juma, Mathew Ndung’u, Oliver Musembi, Wangari Njuguna and Baraka Karama.

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