Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 in Kenya, throngs of politicians with their supporters in tow could be seen criss-crossing the country with massive rallies singing and dancing. These were BBI rallies.
From social media to main-stream media, BBI was touted by Kenyan leaders as a Hail Mary of fixing all Kenyan problems now than ever before. Together with the Big 4 Agenda, president Kenyatta considers BBI as one of his legacy project that he hopes to be remembered for upon his exit from active politics.
What is BBI?
BBI stands for Building Bridges Initiative. This initiative was launched in 2018 with the purpose of uniting Kenyans but has since been widely seen as a clandestine project to help Uhuru Kenyatta cling to power. This is so because some of the objectives of BBI is to convince Kenyans to hold a referendum in order to change the constitution.
The change in the constitution is required in order to expand the government by creating more positions such as the office of Prime Minister, two vice presidents as well as a ceremonial role office of the president.
The reason why the Building Bridges Initiative is suspect is because it overemphasize the importance of two main political leaders: Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president of Kenya as well as Raila Odinga, the former Prime Minister of Kenya.
It is expected that Mr. Odinga will get the position of the president while that of a prime minister will be reserved by Mr. Kenyatta. Under the BBI arrangement, the prime minister will be the head of state in Kenya.
Referendum Too Expensive
Most critics of the BBI project think it will be a very expensive and unnecessary undertaking. For example Gatundu South Member of Parliament, Mr. Moses Kuria has opined that conducting a referendum will end up costing Kenyan tax payers as much as 30 billion shillings. Mr. Kuria has instead offered alternative ways of uniting Kenyans without holding a referendum to change the constitution.
Sidelining The Current Deputy President
Since deputy president William Ruto wants to become the next president of the Republic of Kenya in 2022, his interests collide with president Kenyatta’s. President Kenyatta wants to be the head of state as a prime minister after his current presidential term ends.
Both the deputy president and the president are capable of getting the top job. But the can only do so under opposing conditions. Whereas president Kenyatta will not be allowed to be the head of state after exhausting his final term, William Ruto can do so in both scenario regardless if the constitution is changed or not.
But William Ruto stands a better chance of rising to power if the attempt to change the constitution fails. This way, Uhuru Kenyatta’s political clout will be tamed as the current president will be ineligible to run for office hence leaving the political field less clouded with competitors.
Mr. William Ruto has slammed the BBI propaganda as a sham and even termed it as a”political conmanship”.
Both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fully aware of this and that is why their relationship is increasingly deteriorating. The bad blood between Kenya’s top politicians has reached a point where there is almost open hostilities between supporters of the two men.
Uhuru Kenyatta has started targeting ardent supporters of William Ruto. Mr. Kenyatta has sacked or demoted all of the supporters of his deputy with the most recent casualty being former Majority Leader Mr. Aden Duale who was sacked recently on June 23, 2020.
BBI: Uhuru Kenyatta’s Self-Serving Project
Opponents of the BBI project are concerned that the BBI is chiefly meant to extend the terms of the ruling elite. This is particularly so regarding the Kikuyu community that do not have a credible kingpin to fall to in a post-Uhuru Kenyatta Kenya.
The BBI project promises a lot but it is actually an empty shell being presented to Kenyans in an attempt to deceive them to change the constitution in order to extend Uhuru Kenyatta’s reign in power for at least one more decade.
This is so because when you examine the BBI Report, it is a very poorly written document with lots of typos and spelling mistakes. It also contained plagiarized sections of already existing legislative documents. There has been rumors that the report cost Kenyans more than 15 billion shillings to produce. This is outrageous!
Most Kenyans should ask themselves these fundamental questions: If BBI is meant to unite Kenyans, why can’t the political leaders do so without a need to change the constitution? BBI will be a legitimate national project if it can deliver to Kenyans without forcing the “mwananchi an unnecessary referendum and if both Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga promise not to contest for any position in the 2022 elections.