This installment examines the underlying “excuses” propelling the BBI as well as the actors behind this effort. In the next installment (part 3), I focus on the real missed opportunities that the Taskforce should have focused.
Improper Premise – To reiterate, the BBI was triggered by the conflict emanating from the rigged 2017 presidential elections that resulted in the nullification of President Kenyatta’s “election” by the Supreme Court. This ultimately led for the “Handshake” to pacify Raila Odinga and his supporters. Again, stated bluntly- but for Raila Odinga’s electoral victory being stolen in 2017 there would not be any Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) discussions today. So let’s not fall prey to these gratuitous ploys and manipulations that mask the true purpose and intent of the BBI. As explained elsewhere in this narrative, these men’s postulations that the perennial fights and ethnic resentments are born out of lack of inclusivity in government after the general elections are fatally flawed, a fallacy a poorly concocted camouflage unsupported by reality. The truth is the perennial fights are a direct result of STOLEN ELECTIONS that routinely rob the people their voices at the ballot box. Put another way, nobody has fought and or died because an opponent won an election, never ever! It is always because of stolen elections, specifically presidential elections. This is a phenomenon unique to Raila Amollo Odinga’s candidacy and it is also true that his victory has been stolen at least ONCE and so he and his supporters have a legitimate grievance. Luckily, as stated above this is an easy fix that doesn’t need the extraneous rigors of a constitutional change; rather than an expensive and divisive full-fledged referendum, parliament should repeal Section 39 (1c) of 2011 Revised Edition 2016 of the elections Act that the governments in power exploit to rig elections and stay in power. Again, no constitutional change is necessary for this change to take place.
Raila Odinga LEAST suited to lead any constitutional changes – As stated elsewhere, “CONSIDER THE SOURCE”. Raila Odinga has the distinction and notoriety of being the agent of change. Indeed on the BBI Report, he is singled out as the primary architect and mover of the initiative, “However, before going forward, the Taskforce would like to give a special note of thanks and recognition to Rt. Hon. Raila A. Odinga, EGH…. It is the privilege of the Taskforce and its members to inform Rt. Hon. Odinga that the taskforce has completed its work and discharged its mandate in full. His leadership and partnership in bringing unity to Kenya will be remembered for many years to come.”(BBI, 2019, P7). He’s acclaimed to having led the change to the current constitution that was passed in 2010, a cause he personally championed since the early 2000s and took credit for when it finally passed in 2010. Odinga touted and flaunted the new constitution as the BEST, the most perfect document on earth. Odinga was praised and openly accepted the accolades for the changes in the constitution that he helped create. Let’s not forget that the document had, as we now obviously know, too many flaws that remain unfixed let alone implementable. Those of us who opposed and demanded the fixes before being voted on were summarily dismissed and labelled “anti-change”. “Don’t change even a comma or full stop”, he retorted to those opposed to the document in its form at the time and yet here we are less than ten years later being goaded, once again, by Raila Amolo Odinga to change that which he said was “perfect”. Who is fooling who? It is an irreconcilable paradox and for that reason, Raila Odinga cannot be the one leading this change, he gave us the current monstrosity of a constitution. As far as I am concerned, he who that created the problem cannot be the one to fix it. Like its failed twin initiative “Punguza Mzigo” spearheaded by Dr. Ekuru Aukot who, as Director of the so called “Committee of Experts” sometimes pejoratively referred to “Committee of Amateurs”, was a key framer of the current constitution, it MUST fail if for that reason alone. It is instructive to note that part of the reason Punguza Mzigo failed was precisely because Aukot couldn’t be trusted to fix the mess he helped create in the first place. “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!” Raila Odinga et al shouldn’t be allowed a second bite at the apple.
President Kenyatta definitely has limited Capacity to implement BBI – Reality is President Kenyatta, fast approaching lame duck status, is sandwiched between mutually exclusive competing priorities. It is either his legacy BIG 4 Agenda or the politics of BBI, not both. It is apparent Raila Odinga has cast some spell on Kenyatta, enough to coopt the president to sidestep his own BIG-4 agenda and board Odinga’s BBI train. Let’s not make any mistake about it or delude ourselves into thinking BBI anything but politics, it is politics that is about to take a life of its own and consume a lot of resources that would otherwise be expended on implementing his agenda, that’s the opportunity cost. That is the risk President Kenyatta is taking, stepping all over his own legacy which is already at risk of collapsing as is. The agenda which consists of a) affordable Housing at 500,000 new units by 2022, b) New jobs by way of Manufacturing, c) Healthcare for all and d) Food Security simply cannot absorb another agenda let alone one with such political overtones as the BBI. These are Key Performance drivers that Kenyatta has staked his presidential legacy on but by the last check all indicators are that the agenda is way behind schedule at best or failing altogether. No appreciable gains in new housing development in the country as the government is mired in corruption, paralysis of its own dysfunction and red tape that discourages new investments; no new jobs are being created, in fact businesses are laying off workers, closing shop and relocating as the country’s business climate worsens; Healthcare has worsened – Kenyans are dying in droves of ailments that were once foreign in the country, ailments have become epidemic that go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and untreated until it is often too late such as cancer, all the while medical equipment acquired at astronomically exaggerated costs lay rotting and unused in storages; food security is a far cry from what it should be as the nation’s food supply ecosystem is tittering on collapse purely on account of corruption and mismanagement – food safety is alarmingly at risk as more revelations come to light of what the government has been allowing in substandard imports into the food supply chain. The Galana/Kulalu irrigation scheme that the government poured Billions of shillings to provide a safety net for the country’s food reserves turned out to be, for all practical purposes, an unmitigated corruption ridden disaster. My point is Kenyatta has plenty on his plate he should be focusing on and yet that now seems abandoned to be replaced by BBI and hanging in the air on account of BBI. To Kenyatta I say, what do you really want your legacy to be, BIG -4 or BBI?
Additionally, this will be problematic for Kenyatta from a political standpoint. Since the beginning of his second term Kenyatta has insisted that his priority is delivering the pledges he made to Kenyans by way of his much touted “BIG 4 Agenda” and NOT politics. Indeed he has chastised his Deputy William Ruto for premature campaigns to succeed him in 2022 which the apparently impatient and overly ambitious Ruto has been engaged since he practically became the DP. So it is a tough balancing act because the President is himself engaged in politics while barring his deputy from the same, it doesn’t seem fair, it is hypocritical and irreconcilable.