Kenyans should support the BBI for a better future

What you need to know:

  • The voice of the people which informs every single letter of the BBI final report must still be heard.

The coronavirus pandemic is causing the greatest global havoc in living memory. Hundreds of thousands are dying, millions are infected, economies are shrinking to unprecedented levels and societies are turning in on themselves.

Perhaps, though, the greatest victim of the pandemic is trust. The average citizen places their faith and trust in the authorities to help them, even when it is illogical. We are all suffering from the virus whether we have it or not, because the economic and social fallout surround us every single day.

Nevertheless, the situation is not unique to Kenya, and nor is our response. We are in the midst of a global panic where no one knows more than the other, and every day we are learning new things about the disease which contradicts what we thought we knew yesterday.

This is the reality facing the strongest and most affluent of nations, like the US, which has already lost almost 150,000 people to the virus in only a few months.

RAISE VOICES

This is going to be around for a while and the effects felt for even longer. However, we should retain the confidence that our leadership has our best interests at heart, they have demonstrated this amply in the not so distant past.

 Of course, we can and should raise our voices when we believe something wrong or unfair, but not lose sight of the long-term. 

While the coronavirus crisis will hopefully be behind us in a year or so, when we have a vaccine.  

We must keep our eyes on the prize of a better and brighter Kenya, which is fairer, equal and with progress and development for all.

A number of months ago, there was great excitement surrounding the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in many circles, spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, and palpable expectation about the desperately needed change it would deliver to our nation.

After a long and often bumpy road it had achieved almost wall to wall consensus that it was the foundation block for a better future.

It had the necessary buy-in from the people who rushed to contribute and make important recommendations about how they wished to be governed and how to meet and surpass many of the challenges that have held us back as a nation.

Almost every political leader, whether part of the process or not, was supportive of BBI, even if they differed on certain details or some of the tactics.

The issues it sought to address, whether ethnic antagonism, lack of a national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, security, corruption, shared prosperity and responsibility, are rallying calls for the overwhelming majority of Kenyans.

EXCITEMENT

There was such excitement surrounding BBI that after its first preliminary report was introduced, 60 per cent wanted to bring it for an immediate referendum. In some areas, like the Coast and Nairobi support for the plebiscite reached 70 per cent.

For many, it was the talk of the town, and backing was strong across the country. The people had been won over by this unprecedented broad initiative. Unfortunately, a few months later and a global pandemic, the people have started to lose their faith.

A new study by Research firm Intel Research Solutions (IRS) has shown that the popularity of the BBI has lowered, and is now at 47 per cent.

While those who support the initiative still outnumber those who oppose it, at 41 per cent, it is clear that the global trends have not evaded Kenya.

The new virus caught the US, Europe, China, India and Russia by surprise, and none have been able to find the magic formula to deal with it appropriately.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had created a roadmap for a better Kenya, and we will need it now more than ever when we have to pull ourselves up again for the day after the coronavirus. The issues that the BBI seeks to deal with will still be here and must be dealt with appropriately.

The voice of the people which informs every single letter of the BBI final report must still be heard.

This is the people’s initiative, merely steered by our president. We must not lose sight of this despite the hardships. President Kenyatta has prepared us for a brighter long-term future despite the Coronavirus’ short or medium-term effects.

Let’s not lose faith in this journey, and while we might be shaken from it, we should not be diverted from its path.

Mr Kihoro is a Data and Research expert. [email protected]