Raila urges Kenyans to engage in robust BBI debate in 2020

Wednesday March 18 2020
By DICKENS WASONGA

ODM party leader Raila Odinga has challenged Kenyans to engage in a robust debate on the BBI report in the New Year.

Speaking on Wednesday at Nyamira ACK church in Bondo during a Christmas  service, the ODM chief said the birth of the Building Bridges Initiative was an attempt by Kenya's leadership to respond to the challenges facing the country.

"From next year, we will have a robust debate on BBI recommendations. They are not cast on stone. We will be open to any proposal so that what is implemented is agreeable to all," Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga, who revisited the moments leading up to the handshake, told the congregation it took him and President Uhuru Kenyatta 19 hours of hard negotiations to agree to end the stalemate arising from the disputed 2017 poll results that had threatened to tear the nation apart.

He said pressure and expectations were building up and he had to make the difficult choice, sacrificing his personal ambitions for the sake of the country's unity.

He went on to dispel the notion that his truce with President Kenyatta was for political gain.

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While rallying Kenyans behind the BBI initiative, Mr Odinga said the journey towards realising the independence dream will take time.

"I want to thank you for agreeing to stand firm and remaining patient amidst difficult economic times but the initiative we have embarked on will get us there," he said.

He said it has not been easy trying to unite the country and cure the ills that the country has gone through over the years because some politicians, who are beneficiaries of corruption and bad governance, have been frustrating the efforts.

Mr Odinga also said he is not opposed to the BBI report going through Parliament or through a referendum as long as the recommendations will be for the benefit of the people.

However, he took issue with the Church which he accused of sanitising ill-gotten wealth by accepting donations from politicians without questioning the source of the money.

Mr Odinga called on the Church to be at the forefront in championing the fight against graft and pushing for accountability among politicians.

"Church leaders stand guilty as charged if they are going to bed with those who troop in every Sunday with donations whose sources are questionable," he said

He added: "The Church itself needs prayers to be liberated from the yoke of corruption that is creeping into its leadership."

He said the church had abdicated its role of defending justice and leading the congregation in the path of righteousness and morality.

The opposition chief's message to the nation as the country prepares to usher in the New Year was loaded with calls for reconciliation and unity across communities and the political divide.

He said the country's dream is captured in the national anthem and is achievable if the BBI recommendations are implemented.

He said the many milestones that the country witnessed this year were a pointer to the fact that Kenya was on the right trajectory.

Mr Odinga was accompanied by Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga, Siaya Senator James Orengo, MPs Samuel Atandi (Alego-Usoga) and Mr Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) among other leaders.

Mr Orengo asked the country to prepare for a review of the Constitution next year, saying it was the right time to relook at the 2010 document.

"Constitutions are reviewed regularly across the world to enable the countries better serve the citizens to achieve their desires," he said.

He said the BBI was mooted on the realisation that a country that is not at peace with itself can't survive. "BBI was meant to reconcile the country and we shouldn't encourage political posturing about it," he said.