Open BBI debate will bring informed choice


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The unity of purpose witnessed at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative Wednesday singularly illustrated the canon that when situation demands, Kenyans can close ranks and work towards a collective goal; that the citizens acknowledge the fact that we share common destiny, and that what divides us is insignificant compared to what unites us.

There was consensus that the country was degenerating fast due to politics of hate and ethnic hostilities, which, collectively, sapped energies and distracted the citizens from productive engagements. A flagging economy, runaway corruption, rising unemployment, rampant crime and violence, deteriorating infrastructure and non-performing counties, among others, were signals of a country on a descent and requiring urgent remedies.

The BBI report opened a new path for national rebirth and renewal. Political leaders from both sides were agreed that our governance had failed due to selfishness and parochial pursuits. Which is why it is paramount to make amends. The visiting Tanzania Foreign Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi captured the imagination of everyone as he castigated Kenya’s political elite for divisive and outdated politics that made us the laughing stock of the region, yet it’s an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Time for ethnic mobilisation and political posturing is over.

The common denominator in the presentations was that the report should be debated soberly, without acrimony. The public needs to critique and give constructive responses. While there is agreement that some of the proposals are bold and transformative, especially considering its focus on inclusivity, equitable resource sharing, zero-tolerance to corruption and deepening devolution, much work has to be done.

The grey areas in the report require a rethink. The roles of the President and Deputy President should be clarified with the latter given tangible duties as opposed to the current scenario where the occupant has no defined duties. The proposal on the appointment of the Prime Minister is bound to create challenges and is open to manipulation, negating the objective of dispersing power and empowering institutions to defuse an all-powerful presidency.

Even so, Kenya’s problem is not lack of constitutional order, but inaction and dishonesty. The Constitution elaborately addresses some of the issues brought in the report. Article 10, on national values and principles of good governance, and Chapter Six, on leadership and integrity, provide codes on good governance and public morality. However, they have been violated with impunity.


President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga have given the assurance that they want vibrant debate on the proposals. Let Kenyans discuss and make decisions on the BBI.

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