Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has dismissed calls for members of the executive not to attend rallies seeking to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), saying the meetings are not political.
Speaking following a meeting with Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Maa leaders on Monday, Mr Tobiko said the BBI process was unstoppable and the entire executive was in support of the course birthed out of a handshake between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018.
Leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto had argued that the BBI rallies were political and questioned the involvement of Cabinet Secretaries whom they said should not be involved in political campaigns, an argument Mr Tobiko says was erroneous.
“Although BBI has political implications, this process is about our children and our future. These rallies are consultative meetings, as enshrined in the law on public participation, and as national government, we will participate fully even without getting into politics,” Mr Tobiko told journalists at Maasai Lodge, Kajiado County.
According to Mr Tobiko, the environment minister, the meeting will focus on things that as a CS, he was grappling with in the office.
“In the ministry, we are concerned about the wanton destruction of our forests and our water towers, a big problem that is now facing the people of Narok in relation to the Mau Forest,” Mr Tobiko said.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Odinga to finalise on plans for a BBI rally on Saturday at the William ole Ntimama Stadium in Narok County. The rally will be preceded by a consultative meeting with selected delegates on Friday.
The Narok meeting will be the fifth in a series of the consultative meetings that have already reached Kisii, Kakamega, Mombasa and Kitui.
Also present in the meeting were Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, his Narok counterpart Samuel Tunai, and Migori’s Okoth Obado as well as Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, MPs George Sunkuyia (Kajiado West), Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East), Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West), Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), and Junet Mohamed (Suna West).
Former Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye and former Internal Security minister Julius Sunkuli, among others, were also present.
Led by Dr Ruto, the leaders allied to the Tangatanga wing of President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, have accused the executive officials, especially the CSs of using the BBI rallies to “treat Kenyans with contempt.”
“I know President Kenyatta. He is a man who respects Kenyans. Anybody who has been employed by the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, stop having pride and discrimination because you are working on behalf of Kenyans who are not stupid. When you go to the people, humble yourselves before them. Do not lie to them that you have been sent by the President to speak to Kenyans with contempt,” Dr Ruto was quoted as saying in December last year at the height of the BBI campaigns.
Besides Mr Tobiko, other CSs who have been involved with the BBI rallies are Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and Agriculture’s Peter Munya.
During the Monday meeting, Mr Odinga said that the Maa people should be left to air their views.
“It is the wearer of the shoe who knows where it pinches the most,” Mr Odinga said, in reference to calls to have the Maa people have a free hand in airing their views during the meeting.
A group led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen had been warned by leaders allied to Mr Odinga from demanding to speak in the BBI rallies, saying they should listen to the regional complaints, and wait for the rallies to reach their regions for them to speak.
“Even though we had some small issues, we have finalised them and come up with a secretariat to decide on the delegates to come,” Governor Lenku said.
He said the meeting will focus historical injustices and will “put forth our own issues, because every region has different concerns”, a position also adopted by Mr Tunai.
“We welcome you to Narok. We support BBI, and we want you to come and eat meat, drink some milk, and if you find sometime, go and visit the Maasai Mara,” the Narok governor said.
LAND USE POLICY
Senator Kina said that the meeting should focus on issues on land use policy and shareable revenue, which he said if implemented as is based on number of people in a county not considering land mass, the counties of the Maa people will be greatly affected.
“The issues of the Maasai people will be articulated by the Maasai. Same thing as the Kikuyu or any other people. The same way I cannot purport to speak for the Kikuyu on their problems, no one should purport to speak for the Maasai on theirs,” he said.
The Narok meeting, same as the previous four, seeks to validate the BBI report released in November last year by a 14-member team chaired by Garissa senator Yusuf Haji.