Uhuru, Raila rally governors behind BBI report

Sunday November 03 2019

Central Kenya governors address a press conference concerning the Building Bridges Initiative, at a Nairobi hotel on October 29, 2019. They cautioned against speculating on the team's recommendations. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga hope to make governors champions of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) amid concerns raised by a section of leaders even before the report is made public.

They hope to capitalise on governors’ influence and financial power to rally Kenyans behind the initiative.

Legislators from the Mount Kenya region have already expressed their opposition to any proposal that would drop the presidential system, citing the need to maintain the one man, one vote rule.

Their position has drawn mixed reactions from leaders from minority communities, with National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale insisting that a parliamentary system is the best way to go.


He told leaders from Mount Kenya that should they continue with their push for the One Man, One Vote rule, he would also push for a “One Kilometre, One Vote” model due to the size of northern Kenya’s electoral units.


“Kenyans have worked with the presidential system since independence. We have reached a stage in which the system only produces a personality cult and encourages ethnicity,” Mr Duale said.

“For us to have peace and unity, we should embrace a pure parliamentary system where the contest is at the constituency level because Kenyans don’t fight for other elective positions,” he added.

According to multiple insiders, President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are concerned by the rising political temperatures even before the report is made public.

“Through their emissaries, they have reached out to governors as they seek support for the BBI initiative,” a Jubilee insider told the Nation.


A source at ODM said Mr Odinga had also reached out to the Council of Governors with a similar request.

On Saturday, Mr Odinga met Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and her Machakos counterpart Alfred Mutua. And on Sunday he met Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni.

Mr Odinga also discussed with the governors the need to have one agenda on constitutional change.

Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju has, however, called for restraint on the debate until the report is made public.

“Since the release of the BBI report is imminent, our position is that we wait until it is released so that we don’t pre-empt the debate,” said Mr Tuju.

ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna said they are ready to work with governors to champion the BBI initiative.