Raila Odinga’s ODM party wants a new governance structure akin to the defunct Grand Coalition Government where the President and the Prime Minister enjoyed equal powers.
ODM on Friday vowed to reach out to the masses through a series of public participations to make them understand and give their views on the Building Bridges Initiative report.
Mr Odinga, who with President Uhuru Kenyatta have promised to implement the report, said they wanted to ensure that all Kenyans understand it and give their views before it is fine-tuned and fully implemented.
Mr Odinga announced that there would be an exercise where Kenyans will be given an opportunity to recommend changes to the report.
According to Mr Odinga, a team of delegates drawn from various regions including Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Coast, Central, North Eastern and Eastern, among others, will have an opportunity to recommend changes before the report is subjected to a referendum.
“At least 500 people from each region will meet to discuss the recommendations. Their final draft will then be taken to Kenyans to decide on the future of the report,” he told a gathering at Waondo village, Homa Bay County, during the burial of Dorcas Ajwang’, mother of Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’.
The ODM leader said the teams will be spearheaded by selected leaders from the regions.
ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, who has been tasked to spearhead the exercise in Western Kenya, told Sunday Nation that they were also keen on having a “strong presidency and a strong Premier so that there are checks and balances” unlike the proposal in the BBI report recommending a powerful President.
He said the structure akin to the Grand Coalition government of 2008-2013 between Mr Odinga and retired President Mwai Kibaki where the Prime Minister had two deputies was the way to go to enhance inclusivity.
“We want a structure similar to that of power sharing between former President Kibaki and former Prime Minister; Mr Odinga. Because of that, we had proper checks and balances during that time and this country gained a lot. Most of the infrastructures you see in the country was started during that time,” Mr Oparanya told Sunday Nation at Pinecone Hotel in Kisumu town.
The announcement will clear the air over the ODM position on the PM’s post following conflicting reports earlier this week on whether the party supported a powerful premiership or not.
Mr Oparanya explained that they would seek amendments to the BBI proposal on the requirements for one to be a Prime Minister, noting that subjecting such a person to a parliamentary election should be changed.
“We don’t even need a Prime Minister to be a nominated or elected MP but a leader of a coalition that has the majority in Parliament.”
“The leader with the majority then automatically becomes a Member of Parliament without even going through the election process as well as the two deputies,” added the Kakamega governor.
“It is important to look for someone who is more popular and with authority within the party structure that can command respect in Parliament to be the prime minister,” said Mr Oparanya.
He said the party supports the creation of positions of two deputy prime ministers to help the office holder in coordinating government activities.
“As a Prime Minister, you need to interact with the National Assembly and Senate closely and if you are one person, you might not manage that with other responsibilities of coordination of government activities. So definitely the Prime Minister will need at least two deputies to support him,” he noted.
He said they will bring together leaders drawn from the political class, religious groups, civil society groups, women and youth, and systematically take them through the BBI report with a view of using them to educate people.
“We want people to vote on a document that they understand. So public participation is going to be very crucial unlike where leaders tell people that we have read it and it is OK. We need to inform and involve everybody to understand it so that we give them an opportunity to make their own decisions,” said Mr Oparanya, adding that he would marshal support for BBI.
The BBI report, he said, if fully implemented, will unite the country and improve its economy.
“Of course there are issues we are still looking at. We also feel that county governments must have a very important role to play. Devolution is what will save this country.”
“I know the BBI report made a provision of 35 per cent revenue allocation to counties but I feel that quantum should be increased to 45 per cent,” Mr Oparanya said.
During Ms Ajwang’s burial, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, however, challenged both Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta to tell Kenyans their intentions with the BBI.
According to Mr Murkomen, the two leaders have not told the country what they aim to achieve if the report is passed.
“Both the President and Mr Odinga should tell Kenyans what their intentions are with the BBI. It seems there is something they are targeting that they have not told Kenyans," he said.
Mr Murkomen, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, said he will only support the report if it will help in the fight against graft and other vices affecting the country.
Siaya Senator James Orengo said leaders should discuss the BBI report in a mature way, saying the destiny of the report will be decided by Kenyans.