Uhuru, Raila to launch BBI signature collection drive

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 00:00 |

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga have lined up a series of closed-door meetings to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

The two are said to have opted for targeted meetings with individuals and groups with divergent views over the report as the exercise moves to the crucial stage of collecting one million signatures across the country. 

Tomorrow morning, the President and Raila are scheduled to officially launch the collection of signatures at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Last week, while slamming the door on the push for amendments to the document, Raila announced the start of collection of signatures, with a referendum tentatively set for April next year.

“We will be doing the launch of the signature collection sometimes next week.

We want that exercise to be done as soon as possible so that the matter can be handed over to the electoral commission, and then we can move towards the next phase of a referendum,” Raila stated.

Launch of signature collection comes as pressure continues to pile on the duo  with several groups calling for a review of the report before it is subjected to a referendum.

Council of Governors last week recommended some changes to the report, including establishment of deputy ministers post. 

Members of County Assemblies have also proposed a raft of changes to the report, though the chances of being heard appear slim.

County Assemblies’ Forum had invited Ward Reps  for an Annual Delegates Conference at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi last week, but the event was called off because of Covid-19 protocols.

Evangelical church leaders, led by Bishop Mark Kariuki, had also claimed BBI task force ignored their proposals.

During tomorrow’s launch of collection of signatures, the President and Raila are also scheduled to unveil BBI draft Bill and the technical committee expected to drive the process.

The new secretariat will be co-chaired by former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru and Minority Chief Whip Junet Mohamed, with joint secretaries being Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ong’era and Sara Kilemi, wife of former Education assistant minister, Kilemi Mwiria.

Other members of the secretariat are Oduor Ong’wen, Nancy Gitau, lawyers Tom Macharia, Prof Ben Sihanya, Faith Waigwa, Dr Ken Nyaundi, Prof Lawrence Gumbe, Prof Isaiah Kindiki and Stephen Mwachofi.

Various groups

Sources say the President and Raila have been holding a series of meetings with various groups holding divergent views to the report with a view to winning them over.

Two weeks ago, the President made a four-day trip to the Vatican where he met Pope Francis and reportedly discussed a number of issues, among them BBI report and the impending referendum.

It is not lost on observers that barely three days after his return from the trip where he was accompanied by two senior Catholic Bishops, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a toned down statement.

 Although the bishops expressed some misgivings about the report, they advised the government to immediately implement proposals that do not require to pass through a referendum.

Last Friday, Raila met a group of Coast leaders before holding talks with another one from Rift Valley at his Capitol Hill offices the following day.

Before that, Raila had met leaders of the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group.

On Sunday, Raila met governors from Western Kenya in Kisumu.

Accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), the ODM leader told off critics of the document, accusing them of spreading propaganda to mislead the public.

Come Monday, Raila held a consultative meeting with Majority and Minority Leaders from County Assemblies perceived to be friendly to the report at a Nairobi hotel. Speakers were also in attendance.

Yesterday, Raila is said to have met a select team of leaders from Mt Kenya at his Capitol Hill office before meeting Assembly leaders once again. 

A meeting with representatives of women’s groups and opinion shapers, which was scheduled for today in Nairobi has reportedly been called off due to a spike in Covid-19 infections.

After tomorrow’s event, Raila is expected to separately meet governors from various regions, Women Reps, officials of the County Assemblies Forum, church leaders and representatives of various lobby groups. National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said the President and Raila have resolved to consult as many people and interest groups as possible to make the process all-inclusive.

“Raila has been holding a series of meetings and still has several lined up in the coming weeks. We want to make the process all-inclusive although we cannot force those opposed to the process to join us,” Mbadi said.

On the other hand, the President is expected to launch an amphibious campaign in Mt Kenya region where his team feels reception to the report has been lukewarm.

Already, senior civil servants, starting from Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, heads of State corporations and County Coordinators have been given strict instructions to popularise the document on the ground.

“It is no longer a two people document, but now a government initiative. We have been given clear instructions to sell BBI on the ground and senior civil servants from Mt Kenya region have been told to go back to their respective home areas to do the same,” a senior State officer told People Daily.

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