Ruto, Raila camps in all-out war as BBI sharply divides country
The debate on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposals has widened the cracks between ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto’s camps, with both sides on an all-out war over the document that was ironically meant to forge unity.
Ruto’s men think Raila is hiding behind the BBI to wreak Jubilee and scuttle President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy programmes.
They allege the BBI initiative has been hijacked and turned into an ODM agenda with an eye on the 2022 election.
Siaya senator James Orengo’s statement that the BBI was their man’s sure path to State House was telling.
“Though the Handshake is meant to bring peace and unity, it’s a strategy to catapult Raila into State House,” he said.
During the Friday rollout of the countrywide BBI meetings in Kisii county, Raila urged Kenyans to prepare for a referendum by June.
In what was dubbed the Kisii declaration on the BBI proposals, Raila and Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, led governors, MPs and Senators in vowing that the Nyanza region will support BBI as a bloc.
Raila said the BBI train had left the station and was unstoppable.
But Ruto and his allies said BBI had been transformed into a political vehicle for ODM.
They said the Friday conference and rally in Kisii county and another planned for Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on Saturday were an indication BBI was no longer about the recommendations launched at the Bomas of Kenya in November last year.
“What was witnessed in Kisii was ODM reorganising itself ahead of 2022 election. It had nothing to do with matters pertaining to BBI.
Though, we have no problem with ODM organising itself, they should not hide under BBI to pursue its selfish ends,” Ruto said at St Paul Makongi Secondary School grounds, Soy, Uasin Gishu County yesterday.
He added: “For some leaders to tell us what happened in Kisii had something to do with BBI was a lie. We have no money to misuse on matters of political parties in the name of BBI.”
The Deputy President claimed the Handshake had disintegrated the Opposition.
Earlier, Ruto said the BBI document had been stained by pretence and associated misuse of public resources, which he says should stop.
He told Raila: “You are free to make your 2022 line-up after all we will be there and meet with you but stop hiding behind BBI and misusing State resources drumming support for it.”
In Kisii, Raila had said the recommendations of the BBI team would herald a fresh start for the country is adopted.
“The lake has come to the mountain. We have started the journey of BBI together and urge locals to support it for the country to have a fresh start,” he said.
Raila’s supporters yesterday fired back at the DP, accusing him of being “a political con man, who relies on sympathy to gain popularity”.
They were led by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and Leader of Minority in the Senate and National Assembly Senator Orengo and John Mbadi respectively.
Orengo said Ruto was opposed to a referendum because it could reduce his bid to capture the presidency in 2022.
Orengo said Matiang’i’s declaration that he only answers to Uhuru and Raila was a clear indication the DP had lost favour in the President’s inner circle.
Joho claimed the Deputy President had hatched a plot to defeat the recommendations of the BBI team.
But the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Majority Aden Duale hit out at the Kisii meeting, saying there was no need to use public resources on the BBI as the entire country supported it.
He said the planned regional BBI consultative meetings were a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Raila Odinga and his brigade should not waste time and taxpayers’ money. Go and collect the one million signatures and let it go through all the constitutional processes,” he said.
“I want to tell Raila for free that the referendum he is talking about by June is impossible. Stop lying to yourself.
The timeline given for one to collect signatures, you need at least two to three months. Unless you want to hoodwink us and collect signatures from Huduma Number which we won’t accept,” he added.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago faulted the early campaigns on the pretext of BBI public engagements saying they were going against the spirit of BBI.
Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei accused the Raila-led group of kicking off early 2022 campaigns under the pretext of BBI public engagements.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, one the DP’s allies, said: “Raila Odinga and his team are building political coalitions ahead of 2022. What they are doing have nothing to do with the BBI recommendations,” he said.
Peace and stability
Defending the Kisii meeting, however, Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya said they convened a workshop to enable delegates to collect views, which would be presented at Bukhungu stadium to BBI national team for consideration.
His Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguru declared support for the BBI, saying: “As (Mt Kenya) region we are behind, the President and BBI document serves as best.
We will not follow anyone blindly but we are firmly behind the President and ODM leader.”
Mbadi refuted claims the BBI was about the 2022 elections, positions or individuals.
Nominated MP Wilson Sossion said the labour movement supported the Handshake and BBI for bringing peace and stability in the country.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi criticised those opposing BBI terming them a threat to the nation.