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BBI report delay fuels suspicion Uhuru, Raila not on same page

Tuesday November 5 2019


President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga demonstrate their commitment to national unity during the annual prayer breakfast at Safari Park Hotel on May 31, 2018. They are yet to receive the report of the Building Bridges Initiative. PHOTO | EVANS OUMA | AFP 

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and ‘Peoples’ President’ Raila Odinga are, no doubt, very busy people.

I don’t think, however, that they are so preoccupied with important matters of State and politics that they cannot squeeze in some time to receive the report of the Building Bridges Initiative.

A fortnight has passed since the BBI Task Force joint secretaries Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi announced that the report was ready and all they were waiting for was an opportune time to deliver it.

They felt constrained to release the statement in the wake of growing apprehension over the long delay on a report that had supposedly been ready for over a month save for some final editing touches.

At that time, President Kenyatta was in Russia, and that was used as a convenient excuse. Now, we might have to conclude that his frequent foreign travels are designed to avoid the report.



If BBI was as important as advertised for the building of national cohesion and guaranteeing sustainable peace, security and nationhood, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga would have made it a number one priority to receive the report and immediately embark on its implementation.

That they have not been available will only serve to fuel growing suspicion that one, or both, of them are not happy with its recommendations.

Although the President and the erstwhile opposition leader-turned-key ally have both always been publicly fulsome in support of their baby and diagnosis of Kenya’s problems, a close analysis reveals that they may not necessarily be on the same page regarding prescriptions.

Mr Odinga, for instance, has been outspoken in support of major realignment of the national leadership structure to reintroduce the position of Prime Minister as Head of Government.

He has also been insistent that Kenya must have a referendum to pass the envisaged constitutional changes — an interesting position ahead of the release of the BBI report.


President Kenyatta, by contrast, has backed the BBI, but without going into positions and demands that might pre-empt receipt of the report.

He has never talked of going back to a parliamentary system of government or uttered support for a referendum.

It is also instructive that while Mr Odinga’s party, ODM, made detailed proposals to the BBI hearings, President Kenyatta’s Jubilee did not make an appearance.

Granted, the governing party is deeply divided over the BBI with Deputy President William Ruto leading a powerful faction determined to shoot down the President’s pet project.

It is still apparent that Mr Kenyatta has not even made much effort to rally his party behind the initiative.

This is not to suggest that President Kenyatta has had second thoughts about BBI, but it is becoming clear that he is not reading the same script with Mr Odinga on the proposed solutions to what ails Kenya.


It is also easy to conclude that the delay in presentation of the report is because the chief proponents are not seeing eye to eye on some things.

Although both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga could claim that they have no advance knowledge of what the BBI report will propose, it is common knowledge that they appointed known acolytes to the secretariat and task force, who would be constrained to keep them informed.

Mr Kimani and Mr Mwangi would report to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, respectively.

Ditto the task force heads, Senator Yusuf Haji and Dr Adams Oloo, who lead a pack of men and women handpicked and loyal to the two leaders, and who would be expected to push prescriptions favourable to their respective masters.

It would spell doom for the entire initiative and also provide considerable and political humiliation if BBI came out with a report that one or both of the chief proponents could not live with.


In that regard, it would only have been natural that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga keep close tabs on developments and discreetly guide the process so that they get a final report to which they would be fully committed.

BBI depends on unstinting support from the two men in rallying their political parties, their troops in Parliament and their regional or ethnic blocs in preparation for constitutional amendment by the Legislature or through a people’s plebiscite.

Without that, it will be stillborn, and the foes and reactionaries controlled by DP Ruto will have a field day.

If there are differences delaying the presentation of the report, then Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga must move swiftly to resolve them.

However, questions will still abound on whether the final document reflects the public view or is a dictation by the two leaders.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho