Uhuru rallies Mt Kenya around the BBI project

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

President Uhuru Kenyatta has accused politicians allied to his deputy of presiding over massive theft of public resources and using the loot to incite Kenyans against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The President, who appeared to target his deputy William Ruto, also warned about the emerging “Hustler vs Dynasty” narrative, saying it was dangerous and had already driven some individuals to destroy private property. 

The Head of State, who spoke to in Kikuyu vernacular stations yesterday morning, sought to reassure his Mt Kenya political backyard that has been restive about the BBI and its political future after his exit from State House, that the reforms proposed under the unity project would guarantee them accommodation in future administrations.

“Stop coming here to lie to the people, the money which they (BBI critics) have been stealing everyday is more than the Sh2 billion (amount critics say will be the cost of the BBI),” he said in apparent reference to Ruto and his surrogates who have been criss-crossing the country preaching against the national cohesion campaign he spearheads  alongside opposition chief Raila Odinga.

“These are useless people and I will not lie because you want to tell us that Sh2 billion will be used ... we are more interested in the amount than what will go to the people,” the President said.  

The Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022 which has captured the BBI final report, among other things, proposes additional allocation to counties and a Ward Development  Fund. 

These are among the gains the President highlighted to rally his backyard to embrace the project.

“Monies have been stolen through several projects. Do not be blinded on account of the amount to be used.

The outcome will be bigger by up to ten times. That is what is important,” the President said, warning that his administration was keen to recover the loot.

Some politicians at the forefront of the Ruto campaign in Mt Kenya region have been hauled to court and charged with corruption involving multi-billion shillings public projects. Some of the suspect money has been frozen by the courts.

The BBI has proposed expansion of the Executive to create the position of Prime Minister with two deputies to ensure inclusivity in governance, a move the President said will leave Mt Kenya safe in the hands of anyone who  becomes President.

Rubbish claims

Uhuru addressed the region after Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata recently wrote him a letter that has been the subject of debate, advising him that the BBI project was yet to gain traction in Mt Kenya.

Also, the President has been under pressure from Ruto’s allies to honour his 2012 pact with the DP by supporting him in the 2022 presidential election.

He said yesterday: “Kenyans will vote whoever they want and only God knows who will be the choice.”

Ruto and his allies have rejected the BBI project, claiming it was not a priority and is meant to create jobs for select individuals.

They have described  the planned referendum to anchor BBI proposals in the Constitution as a waste of public funds.

But yesterday Uhuru rubbished the claims as lies, saying the cost of the plebiscite was yet to be established, maintaining that BBI will ensure equitable distribution of resources in manner that will ensure that populous regions get more allocation from the national kitty.

This is not the first time the DP his coming under fire over his opposition to BBI and its cost as well as graft in government. On Sunday, Raila accused him of presiding over corruption in government.

“BBI will improve our economy. Corruption in government has led to our economy getting worse. 

SGR was a project of former President (Mwai) Kibaki and Raila. But when they came, they inflated the cost by Sh160 billion. 

That money was stolen and it is being used to fly helicopters and running fundraisers.

Those people should be in Kamiti not loitering around,” Odinga said during a church service at St Joachim and Ann’s Catholic Church in Soweto, Kayole.

Go in unison

Yesterday, Uhuru used the interview to address the disquiet in his Mount Kenya base, which he blamed on incitement and collection of handouts among a section of leaders in the region to fight  BBI.

“There are people who are really interested in dividing people in Mount Kenya. And I want to tell you, please just know that nothing is as important as unity.

And wherever we will go, let us go in unison knowing where we have come from and where we are going,” the President said.

He added: “My worry is that instead of leaders looking at the issues that can help the people, they are looking at 2022 politics and claiming that we are doing this (BBI) because of Raila. Where did I ever say that I am in this because of so and so?”

He reiterated his calls for a rotational presidency to ensure inclusivity, adding that all Kenyans have the ability and right to lead the nation irrespective of their backgrounds.

“I have heard people saying that one family has ruled for so long. If the logic being applied is that because my father was president and I am also president we are being referred to as dynasties.

It’s like saying because your father was a doctor and you become a doctor you are not supposed to treat patients. 

“Then, let us say because you are shamelessly telling rallies that this family has ruled for long, what is the problem if I say even you, you have been in leadership, let other people lead.

It’s not just about hustlers and dynasties, even other people,” the President explained.

President Uhuru’s allies led by Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda have been accusing the DP of creating divisions in Mt Kenya.

In the past three year, Ruto has put a spirited fight to seduce the populous region ahead of the next election.

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