Ruto pulls himself from ongoing BBI campaigns

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto condoles His Eminence John Cardinal Njue during the funeral service of his sister Jonnes Wakinyua Njuki at Manyatta, Embu county. Photo/PD/BRIAN MUSYOKI

Brian Malila, Anthony Mwangi and DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday for the first time declared that he had pulled out of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns.

The DP has in the past made pushed for the reopening of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, attracting a rebuttal from President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Yesterday, however, Ruto said he will henceforth concentrate on development issues.

“Because there is a lot of work to be done, I will focus on helping President Kenyatta on issues of development; others can drive the BBI agenda,” he said in Embu during the burial of a sister of John Cardinal Njue, who this week retired as the Archbishop of Nairobi.

The DP indicated his main focus now shifts to monitoring the Jubilee government’s development projects.

  By pulling out of the national cohesion project, Ruto may thrust himself onto a fresh collision course with his boss, President Kenyatta, who has staked the BBI as one of his legacy projects.

Constitutional reform

 Telling leaders who “were not busy” to continue driving the BBI agenda, Ruto, however,  told proponents of the constitutional reform agenda to ensure the recently published Bill reaches people at the grassroots to help them make informed decisions.

 “Hii BBI kuna wenyewe, na vile mumesema mumeuliza hizo vitabu viletwe wananchi wasome, mimi nilikua nimesema kwa sababu kazi ni mingi nisaidie President katika ile kazi ya maendeleo ya barabara na stima, maji wengine pia washughulike na hii ya BBI kwa sababu kazi ni kazi (This BBI has its owners, and as you have said the BBI report should be made available for Kenyans to read for themselves.

Because I have said I am busy assisting the President fulfill his duties touching on development like roads construction, electricity and water, let other people take charge of that BBI process because any work is good work),” said Ruto.

He added: “When I went to Bomas I tried to point out the errors (in the BBI report) because I wanted to help them, but they are now late because they have not availed any of the reports to Kenyans to allow them to read because Kenya is for all of us.

As for me I will focus on my work which is to help Uhuru Kenyatta achieve his development goal.” 

The DP said the push for constitutional reforms had “hijacked” the Jubilee government development agenda, with BBI being presented as a major priority.

Contacted for clarification of Ruto’s comments, his spokesman Emmanuel Talam said the DP was setting the record straight that he was no longer party to the Uhuru-Raila project.

Not a priority

“The DP’s statement is not out of the blues, he has been consistently calling for amendments to some of the clauses in the BBI report but the other side has completely refused to budge, so he has decided that because they do not want to change anything, let them go ahead with it (report) in its current form as he concentrates on development matters,” Talam said.

But some of his allies did not read much to the statement, saying BBI has not been his priority all along.

“The DP has said nothing new; it has been his position that BBI is not a priority at the moment. We should instead focus on resurrecting the economy. Kenyans will decide on what root to take,” said Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.

Garissa Town MP Aden Duale said the DP spoke for his supporters who do not support the law initiative.

“We have been consistent on matters BBI. We are not part of the process and will never support it,” Duale said.

Defending Ruto’s position, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah told Kenyans not read much in the DP’s statement since he has been clear along that BBI was not inclusive.

“BBI has its owners. They can focus on it as we focus on people issues and economic revival and empowerment,” Ichung’wah said.  Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said had been voicing the same views.

“The DP is very consistent, you remember when we met him in Karen last month and addressed a press conference, we raised very pertinent issues which we wanted the other side to address, but instead of addressing all or any of them, they are busy talking about verification of signatures and the referendum budget; it seems the other side is not interested in consultations and what the DP is saying is just to merely remind them to come to the negotiating table, he is only doing so in a much stronger language.”

 Yesterday, Ruto said Kenyans should not accept “any move by any person” to pull the country backwards on tribal considerations but instead expressed his commitment towards uniting the country.

 ‘’I have faith that God is going to give us the opportunity to do that which will carry the whole country forward and we will move together,” said Ruto.

 “As leaders we must seek solutions to these challenges . . . however, the solution to these challenges should not take a tribal angle or come up with plans for specific communities,” he added.

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