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On BBI, let Kenyans make own decisions

Friday December 6 2019

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The launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report last week was billed to be a turning point in the national politics.

In essence, the initiative was intended to bring an end to the cyclic violence that marks every election. But the goal seems untenable.

BBI has triggered a new round of political confrontation that clearly shows that the country’s problems are far too deep to be cured through proposals made by a caucus created by two political leaders – President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

President Kenyatta’s public outburst this week as he railed at critics of the BBI is the clearest indication that all is not well.

The President looks so exasperated. But he should have known better. All along, the initiative has attracted support and opposition in equal measure.

Critics, a majority of whom coalesce around Deputy President William Ruto, view it as a political mischief tool intended to block their man from ascending to the presidency.



Supporters, however, perceive it as the panacea to the country’s political ills.

That since President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga shook hands in March last year and entered a political truce, the country has achieved a level of tranquillity and has a promise for the future.

However, the handshake and the BBI mask a bigger problem. The country has not addressed the fundamental questions about ethnicity, electoral fraud, unemployment, insecurity, poor governance, corruption and State capture.

As currently conceived, the BBI report seeks to address the question of exclusion and marginalisation, deepening devolution, fighting corruption and restoring public morality.

Yet these are issues well tackled by the Constitution, which intended to redefine the nation’s socio-economic and political orientation and resolve historical injustices. But that was not to be.


Now President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have exhorted Kenyans to read the BBI report before making up their minds about it.

Even then, the two are pushing for unquestioned acceptance of the report, which is why they do not countenance divergent views.

But that is the surest way of killing the document. If it is a good report with practical solutions to the country’s woes, then it will be accepted.

But in the circumstance that it has faults, it will equally be rejected. And Kenyans have a right to do that. That is what democracy is all about and which we fought so hard for.

Thus, it behoves President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to market the document soberly and desist from issuing threats and blanket condemnations of its critics.

Forcing people to accept the proposals unquestioningly would be disastrous.