Orange Democratic Movement chief Raila Odinga has said no amount of force can stop the Building Bridges Initiative meeting scheduled for Tononoka grounds Saturday, even as Coast leaders warned they will not allow Tangatanga leaders to speak on issues that do not touch on the coastal people.
Mr Odinga downplayed claims that MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto, who have announced they will attend the Mombasa meeting, were plotting to cause chaos in a bid to disrupt the meeting.
“It would be very misguided and unfortunate for anybody to think that he can sabotage the meeting. No force can stop the movement,” Mr Odinga said.
Speaking in Nairobi Thursday after meeting senators from Central Kenya, Mr Odinga welcomed Dr Ruto’s allies to the meeting, saying the aim of BBI is inclusivity and not exclusion.
“They have realised that they have been missing the opportunity to participate in the national conversation of uniting Kenyans. They have realised the meetings are not about 2022 or giving people positions but on the agenda of Kenyans,” Mr Odinga said.
The allies of both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga claimed on Wednesday that there could be a scheme by Dr Ruto’s men to cause chaos in the regional consultative meetings.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja said: “We know their plan to ferry goons to cause chaos then claim that they have been kicked out of the meetings. We will not fall for their trap.”
This comes as four governors from the Coast region talked tough, vowing to stop any “disruption”.
Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Granton Samboja (Taita-Taveta) and Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) warned leaders from outside the region not to “interfere” with the meeting and asked them to give the coastal people space to articulate issues affecting them.
The governors termed the meeting an opportunity for them to push important agenda for the benefit of their people.
“We shall not allow people who want to show us their political muscle to disrupt our meeting. We cannot block anyone from attending the meeting, but we will not allow the forum to be turned into a political contest,” said Mr Kingi.
Speaking after an inspection tour of the Tononoka grounds, the leaders said they would not entertain anyone with an agenda that contradicts what the coastal people want addressed.
“Your attendance should not be a reason for you to disrupt us. If you come here, you must observe respect for the coastal people who will be pointing out issues that they want the BBI to address,” said Mr Kingi.
The Kilifi governor told those who want to do politics to look for a forum elsewhere.
He said at least 3,000 delegates drawn from all parts of the region will meet today to discuss and agree on the issues to be presented .
Mr Joho said some of the items on their agenda include the thorny land issue as well as matters touching on the port and fishing.
Mr Godhana asked the Tangatanga leaders to wait for the forum to be taken to their regions for them to air their issues.
“Those who will be coming should come here as Kenyans, but tomorrow is the chance of the Coast. Let them wait for their turn when the BBI team goes to their respective regions,” he said.
His Taita -Taveta counterpart Granton Samboja said the Coast region was seeking more inclusivity.
On Tuesday, 20 MPs allied to Dr Ruto and drawn from both the National Assembly and the Senate vowed to mobilise their supporters to attend the meetings and, where necessary, take charge of the forums.
In the meeting with central Kenya senators, Mr Odinga said it was about planning for the next BBI forum scheduled for February 2 in either Embu or Meru.
The senators who attended the meeting include Senate deputy chief Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), Ephraim Maina (Nyeri), Paul Githiomi (Nyandarua) and nominated senator Issac Mwaura.
When they emerged from the two-hour closed-door meeting, the former PM said he was briefing the senators on the progress made so far on BBI.
“I have explained to them how BBI is going to solve the problems they have,” Mr Odinga said.
Sources in the meeting said Mr Kang’ata is slated to lead the BBI activities in Central by virtue of his position in the Senate as deputy whip.
From Mombasa, the next BBI meeting will be in Embu or Meru on February 2, then Garissa, Eldoret, Suswa, Kiambu and finally Nairobi on February 26.
Meanwhile, a section of MPs allied to Dr Ruto have demanded the supply and distribution of the BBI report to all Kenyans.
The MPs included Patrick Mariru (Laikipia West), Laikipia Senator John Kinyua, Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua) and Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa)
“I am calling upon all elected leaders to fully support the President’s initiative regardless of their political alignments. Personally, I will be going to the next BBI forum in Mombasa to show my undivided commitment,” Mr Mariru said.
Additional reporting by Steve Njuguna.