DP William Ruto terms BBI a ploy to hire ‘tribal chiefs’

Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) as a ploy to create more executive positions for ‘tribal kingpins’.

In an attack that seemed targeted at the proponents of the BBI constitutional amendments, who include President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, Dr Ruto said creating more positions at the top would not solve Kenya’s economic and political problems.

The Deputy President claimed some forces were pushing for every tribe across the country to have what he termed a ‘tribal chief’ as part of a plan to influence the voting pattern and outcome of the 2022 General Election.

“Our competitors believe our problem is ethnic and we should solve it using ethnic parties. They want us to create positions so that ethnic leaders can be satisfied, but we believe differently; every Kenyan matters,” the DP said at his Karen residence in Nairobi County during a fellowship attended by religious leaders from Kiambu County.

The event was also attended by Central Kenya legislators, including Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Mr Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Mr Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Mr George Kariuki (Ndia).

Reviving the economy

The DP said Kenya’s problems are purely economic and must be solved collectively, adding that the there was nothing wrong with the Constitution.

Isolated in government and gearing up for what would be an anti-establishment stab at the presidency in next year’s elections, Dr Ruto argued that pursuit of power and leadership should not be a reason to go to a referendum.

“Our friends up to today believe the power donated by the people of Kenya can be sought and exercised by leaders and that the Constitution and the institutions it creates should facilitate those in power to get to drive their agenda and if their agenda is in conflict with the Constitution, they believe the Constitution should be changed to fit their agenda,” said the DP.

The DP said priority must be given to reviving the economy in order to create more jobs. 

“There is a fundamental ideological divide between those of us who believe Kenya’s is an economic problem that requires a national economic transformation movement that would make sure opportunities are created for every citizen to either get a job or build an enterprise so that we grow bigger corporations from micro-enterprises,” he said.

The DP reiterated that the country should embrace a bottom-up economic model, arguing that for years, the majority of Kenyans have been left out in the government’s budget-making process.

“There are people who are telling us to continue with trickle-down economics, which caters for just a few people as the majority continue gambling. We are saying No. We must change the economy and have government policies focusing on Kenyans,” he said.

‘Win-win situation’

During a meeting with former councillors from Kajiado County at his Karen home in Nairobi last month, Dr Ruto stressed the need for an inclusive national conversation with a view to creating what he described as a ‘win-win situation’.

“There must not be losers in Kenya, we can all become winners if we listen to one another…. let us find a mechanism where Kenyans can sit down together as brothers and sisters and hammer out a path that leaves nobody behind and excludes no one,” said the DP.

The DP opposed a raft of proposals in the BBI, which he and his allies wanted changed as a precondition for an uncontested referendum.

The issues include allowing political parties to participate in the appointment of the electoral commissioners, expansion of the executive, establishment of an expanded National Police Council packed with presidential appointees and creation of the Office of the Judiciary Ombudsman, another appointee of the President.

He had also called for strengthening of the Senate and its oversight role as far as county governments are concerned.

Some of these issues would have been addressed by the now stalled Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Amending the Constitution

For instance, the proposal that parliamentary parties should have a role in the appointment of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials was dropped, as was the idea of a police council.

Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei said in Eldoret yesterday that proponents of BBI would soon stop chest-thumping.

BBI is dead. It cannot resurrect again because the Court of Appeal will perhaps be done by August, then the matter probably goes to the Supreme Court where it will be concluded in January 2022. It will be too late to hold a referendum,” she said.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany on Thursday said any money set aside for a referendum should be re-channelled to buying more Covid-19 vaccines.

“Unless they have another hidden agenda with the BBI, it is not a priority. I think they should go by the court ruling,” he said.

“Let them forget about changing the Constitution, it is not a priority,” Mr Kositany, who is considered to be Dr Ruto’s de facto spokesperson, added.

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat, however, stressed the need to amend the Constitution for the sake of inclusivity.

“We must change the Constitution to deal with issues of inclusivity and moving the country forward,” he told the Daily Nation.

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