INGENIOUS OR FRAUD? Demystifying BBI (Part 1)

The raging debate in Kenya over Building Bridges Initiative over the last year has ratcheted up a notch since BBI 2 was released a couple of weeks ago. BBI is now front and center even in the face of a sharp spike of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed thousands and is projected to rapidly kill even more. We must call a spade a spade, candor is a virtue that we all can use at this point. Kenyans have characterized the current drumbeats for a BBI referendum by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the midst of COVID as the epitome of a tone-deaf insensitive government. A government simply run amok and out of ideas. BBI and 2022 political rallies are the new COVID super spreader platforms. By ignoring any and all safety protocols, the corrupt, unresponsive, tone deaf, cocky politicians a.k.a. “overconfident idiots” have gas-lighted COVID19 resulting in devastating deadly consequences. The spike in COVID cases and the hopelessness that has descended on the country as the death rate increases is a tragic testament to the leaders’ unbridled selfishness and government’s abject failure to mitigate COVID. It has grossly mishandled and mismanaged the pandemic and appears to have given up on combating the pandemic altogether. And  rather than pause and take corrective action to save lives the Jubilee government has prioritized BBI instead and as a consequence Kenyans are dying in droves – in desolate isolation in their homes, their deaths concealed. The system is crumbling and overwhelmed, medical professionals are helpless and desperate. For each reported COVID death there are hundreds more that go unreported and that’s the shameful tragedy that should worry all Kenyans. The Jubilee government is out of touch and out of sync with the needs of Kenyans, from stealing and mismanaging COVID Billions, to the suspension of medical insurance coverage for COVID patients, to the brutality meted on Kenyans by the police exploiting and extorting Kenyans courtesy of COVID. The country is simply on the wrong trajectory.




The rush by Odinga to steamroll BBI through “as is” on Kenyans at warp speed and even ruling out any chance for changes or edits just like he did in 2010 should trigger the ire of all Kenyans. It is clear that majority of the views presented to the committee were ignored and are not reflected in the document and yet the Principals have announced a signature collection launch. Kenyans  are tired of these charades. Perhaps we should start with Kenyatta’s strongly worded aversions toward changing the constitution during the 2017 presidential campaigns. At the time Kenyatta doggedly assailed his opponent Raila Odinga for the latter’s penchant obsession with constitutional changes. Kenyatta fervently vowed to Kenyans that he will not allow politics to hijack the constitution but here we are barely three years into his second term and BBI politics is front and center; it has not only hijacked the constitution but also Kenyatta’s own BIG 4 Agenda. Ironically, Raila Odinga at the driver’s seat! Oh how times change!

Folks, we need thoughtfulness in our national discourse and to let sanity prevail for a change. The fire that needs urgent dousing is COVID19, not BBI but Kenyans have been compelled to turn their focus on BBI even as they bury their loved ones and try to stay alive. We cannot ignore BBI because if we blink the powers that be will exploit the gullible masses and overrun us with BBI, already we the people have been needlessly relegated to cheerleaders and spectators as BBI is fast-tracked to the referendum like forest wild-fire. As for the document itself Kenyans are weighing whether it is a thud or thump? Kenyans are divided and the reviews are not exactly stellar to put it mildly but that’s later.  Both reports were released with a lot of fanfare but they raise more questions than answers, more doubt than assurances and severely undermine the two principals’ promises that its “cure-all” to Kenya’s malaises. But is it?


Make no mistake, the current constitution is hopelessly flawed and needs to be amended, there is no credible argument against changes provided they are the right changes and let’s be clear, the cure cannot be worse than the disease. BBI in its current form does not fix any problems but exacerbates them, it sidesteps and skirts around the real problems Kenyans so desperately need cured. Additionally, Kenyans are opposed to the manner in which the two principals are going about it i.e. they have conflated the need for changes with their own personal interests and hijacked the process to serve their narrow parochial agenda of self-preservation while ignoring the interests of Kenyans at large. Both BBI reports missed the mark by a long shot; for their verbosity and hype, they fell far short of expectations, many Kenyans have termed the reports underwhelming, blather, drivel, malarkey, ill-timed, shallow, disappointing, a misdiagnosis and deflection of the country’s real ailments, all of which make it hard to fix the maladies if you fail to properly diagnose them as the BBI does. Just like you can’t treat cancer with flu medication, you can’t remedy stealing of elections by creating new positions in government; you can’t end corruption by expanding the size and scope of government; you can’t guarantee citizenship by introducing additional burdens on the people; you can’t end marginalization be excluding key constituents from meaningful participation in their governance; you can’t advance democracy when you disenfranchise masses.


The principals are hard at work demagoguing BBI with inducements to Kenyans that are just absurd, BBI is laden with ostentatious enticements and tokens, including the following: a) carrot being dangled to counties to raise in in revenue allocation to the irredeemably corrupt county governments from the current minimum 15% of the national budget to 35%; b) reconstitute the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by having parties run the institution, in other words strip it of its independence; c) give graduates a 4 year grace period before their Higher Education Loan Board (HELB) student loan repayments become due; d) an amendment to a parliament passed, Micro and Small Enterprises Act, 2012 to give youth-owned enterprises a seven-year tax break, and to establish business incubation canters across the country; e) punishes folks for not reporting corruption, F) a contentious additional 70 Members of Parliament (MPs) in 70 new constituencies to be created within existing constituencies, etc. etc. etc.

A quick review of these key BBI pretexts clearly demonstrate that they are trivial excuses and the enticements can be easily handled administratively or legislatively i.e. NONE of them  require constitutional change to effect, not by a long shot. For instance the 15% revenue sharing constitutional mandate is the minimum NOT the ceiling (allowable maximum); the constitution clearly spells spells that out in Article 203 § 2 where it reads in pertinent part, “For every financial year, the equitable share of the revenue raised nationally that is allocated to county governments shall be not less than fifteen per cent of all revenue collected by the national government.” This deflates BBI’s argument for a constitutional change to raise the allocation because the current constitution does NOT prohibit the government from allocating a higher percentage to Counties and local governments.


It is my argument that BBI as currently written is a poorly connived fallacy by the two gentlemen to delude Kenyans into approving their selfish agenda and it MUST be defeated. In advancing BBI Kenyatta and Odinga claim that the divisions in the country i.e. lack of Peace and Unity is due to electoral violence the country suffers every general election cycle at the presidential level and lack of inclusion of election losers in government. In other words electoral outcome spoils are not distributed equitably between the winner and losers and that’s to blame for all of our problems. To remedy this, according to the two, BBI abolishes the so-called “winner take all” in presidential elections by expanding the executive to include a Prime Minister, two deputies and a slew of other posts to accommodate election losers and these “Losers’/participation Trophies” will supposedly usher in a new era of peace that magically translate into national tranquility & prosperity! These claims are preposterously unfounded because they are a figment of their rich imaginations i.e. flagrant fibs. The Principals have NOT established any correlation whatsoever between electoral violence and the so-called “winner take all”. Kenyans have NEVER fought over lost elections, the PEVs Kenyans are subjected to every election cycle are due to stolen elections and incitement to violence by politicians. BBI’s narrative is gibberish, this attempt to spin the real cause of the real problems facing the country are blatantly and deliberately deceptive, outright foolery that exploits the ignorance and gullibility of the masses. Kenyans understand democracy and the meaning of election outcomes, a winner and loser in an election is the hallmark of democracy world over. BBI is a FRAUD guys, a sham.


The revelation by a key member of BBI’s steering committee that the members were duped into signing the report only to later disavow its contents as ALTERED should give everyone cause to pause. It is the epitome of the toxic, metastasized, malignantly cancerous politics that has metastasized and permeated the Kenyan political landscape. In this instance, Retired Major General John Seii publicly disowned the report’s contents, specifically the addition of 70 new Members of Parliament slots that the team neither discussed nor approved,–2732382?view=htmlamp. Simply put, you can’t cure the country’s ills or advance equity in representation by sneaking in heavily skewed constituencies through chicanery. You just can’t.

It is one thing for Odinga and Kenyatta to advance their agenda and control what the rest of us can even consider but quite another to deceive so blatantly and so audaciously push the masses to approve it expeditiously. Raila Odinga and his key supporters, perhaps to cover up the chicanery, have ruled out any changes or revisions to the BBI report let alone challenging its credibility and want it rushed through the referendum just as he did in 2010. As many of you might recall, back in 2010 Mr. Odinga ruled out any changes to the then badly flawed document before being subjected to the referendum,  “don’t change even a comma or full stop”, he insisted.  To Kenyans I say, don’t be fooled again, consider this old adage, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” i.e. don’t allow Kenyatta and Odinga to fool you into doing their bidding again.


“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, George Santayana. We are at the cusp of reliving this very phenomenon in this rushed BBI. It is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Raila Odinga has NO BUSINESS lading any constitutional changes in Kenya, he had his chance and he blew it. He has ZERO credibility to guide any meaningful changes, he forfeited this role with the 2010 constitution. Fellow Kenyans, “Fools rush in where angels dare not tread” is an old adage we failed to heed in 2010, it simply means you should always look before you leap and we failed. This time around Kenyans it means read and understand what you are being asked to vote for before you actually vote for it and if you do not understand it, don’t vote for it. When in doubt, don’t do it. In 2010 Kenyans approved the Odinga sponsored constitution that he adamantly resisted and expressly prohibited any improvements being made to it before being adopted in the referendum, “don’t change even a comma or full stop”, he insisted.  Indeed Odinga took credit for and basked in the glory of its passage. Most Kenyans who voted for it never read or understood the document, it was never made available to them to read nor explained to them, in fact many Kenyans said they did not need to read it because Odinga had “read it for them”, and here we are again, Kenyans are being herded to the referendum to approve yet another flawed document that they have neither read nor understand. No copies have been availed to them read. In the 2010 document, Odinga touted it as the best constitution world over.  But what have we gained from it? Trillions of shillings more in debt, devolved corruption and worse standards of living for Kenyans relative to the Kibaki years, police abuse and brutality that Kenyans were promised will end has in fact gotten worse and many ills the constitution was supposed to fix but failed. The question Kenyans ask themselves, “are we better or worse off now as a country compared to ten years ago?”  The answer is a resounding NO!


Whereas the real instigator and agitator with more at stake from its outcome is Raila Amolo Odinga, President Kenyatta who for all intents and purposes is going along to get along, equally bears the responsibility and will be judged accordingly. To President Kenyatta I say, pause, count your blessings and cut your losses. BBI in its current form is a liability and will drag your brand, it is not worth abandoning your agenda or legacy for. DO NOT stake your legacy on the BBI drivel and DO NOT gamble with the country’s future with BBI, not in its current form. But if you must, get it right and allow us to help you improve it first so we can avoid the same pitfalls that we are now grappling with. Truth be told, if Raila Odinga were President today there would NOT be BBI talks. Similarly, if Deputy President William Ruto were not a serious contender for the presidency in 2022, BBI would NOT be an issue, always remember that. So it is disingenuous to drag the country into the abyss to satisfy Raila’s ambitions. His obsession for constitutional referendums is driven by his unyielding pursuit of the presidency; it is his way of asserting himself, of course at everyone else’ expense. It is a wedge issue that he deploys to position himself and catapult himself to front-runner status in his bid for the presidency. It is his modus operandi over the years, it his default political settings he always falls back to. So let’s not fool ourselves that BBI has anything at all to do with the welfare of Kenyans, it does NOT. However, to the extent Odinga has put this in front of us, it would actually be in his best interest to own up to the error of his ways and seek genuine mends to the constitution and not disguise the process with these absurd rabbit holes to achieve his political goal.


Finally, the real question before Kenyans is whether the BBI proposals are a) the necessary improvements needed, b) enough and c) if they are not enough, what is missing and how can it be improved. So far it is very clear that BBI missed the mark by a long shot. It must NOT be allowed to stand. Therefore, as it stands now, this BBI has been adjudicated meritless, frivolous and a FRAUD! In the next installment I share what I believe are the real changes Kenyans want and will embrace, stay tuned.