BBI report, the search for unity of purpose

President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM chief Raila Odinga (right) and DP William Ruto at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • The civil society also seems to be unhappy about certain sections of the report.
  • During the launch of the report, the Deputy President William Ruto expressed strong reservations about certain sections of the report.

The BBI report was launched on Monday at Bomas of Kenya where leaders rooted for a non-contested plebiscite. Indeed, it is vital to have an exercise that is devoid of political tension that may arise if we have antagonistic camps during the referendum.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Alfred Mutua have all given the nod to the report and are ready to drum up support for it.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua has given the strongest indication that she will oppose the report. The civil society also seems to be unhappy about certain sections of the report.

During the launch of the report, the Deputy President William Ruto expressed strong reservations about certain sections of the report. It remains to be seen if he will support it. However, certain insinuations attributed to the report ought to be put into perspective.

The DP has been quite vocal about the idea of giving positions to the political elite at the expense of the common mwananchi. President Uhuru Kenyatta tackled this issue head on during the launch, saying that it is erroneous to opine that the exercise is meant to reward certain people.

Unity of purpose

He emphasised the need to consider the changes proposed in the executive structure based on the fact that they will radically alter the political landscape for the benefit of all.

It is encouraging to see the national council of elders reaching out to the major political players in order to rally them behind the call for unity of purpose as Kenyans read the report and take positions about it.

This consensus building should be embraced by all leaders. In any case, the document is not cast in stone and is subject to review depending on which sections that may prove to be contentious.

As pointed out by the president during the launch, two critical issues stand out; how to deal with the problem of unemployment among the youth and the issue of winner takes all. If leaders can agree on these two issues then the other contentious issues can be ironed out with time.


We must realise that there are certain sections of the report that may prove difficult to modify given the time frame.

 It will take the wisdom of leaders to be reasonable enough to let some issues to stand as they are because room for further consultations seems to have run out. It is noteworthy that we cannot achieve a hundred per cent consensus on all issues. Hence, we need to adopt a give and take approach while analysing the contents of the report. We must engender the spirit of compromise so as to reach a national consensus on this matter.

Those who are opposed to decentralisation of executive power must be ready to provide a very convincing reason for this because this is what Kenyans have wanted since the days of the constitutional conference at Bomas which birthed the 2010 Constitution. We ought to remember that had it not been for the mutilation of the Bomas draft at Naivasha, we would be having these positions in the current constitution.

The only plausible reason for opposing this proposal can only be the desire of the proponents to inherit the presidency with the overbearing powers. Kenyans ought to be awake to this reality.

President Kenyatta exhibited statesmanship by acknowledging the contribution of all leaders towards the culmination of the reports launch despite bitter political differences between him and his deputy.

He set the tone of unity and reconciliation and it is only fair that those who have been antagonising him should close ranks as a way of reciprocating his gesture.

His warm treatment of his deputy regardless of their differences was the clearest sign that the president is ready to go to all lengths to secure the report and its recommendations. He sounded quite candid in his comments to the point of taking personal partial responsibility for the negative politics that has permeated our discourse over the years. This is the spirit that all leaders should adopt.

Divisive discourse

Leaders should forget their personal ambitions and rally behind the BBI. There are leaders who are encouraging a divisive discourse. They seem to relish the constant push and pull of our politics but they need to be reminded that a matter as crucial as this does not give room for unnecessary showdown among politicians.

Indeed, this moment will be the strongest test of who among our leaders are indeed patriotic.

During the launch of the report, the president cautioned leaders to tread carefully on the issue of unemployment among the youth saying that it can turn into a nightmare if not handled with extreme sobriety.

We only need to look at what is happening in Nigeria to appreciate the need for well thought out approach to the issue.

Thousands of young people have been protesting in the streets of Lagos in what appears to be morphing into an uprising. We don’t need to incite the youth because of their circumstance for short term political gains.

The problems bedeviling the youth will only be ultimately resolved structurally by coming up with policy decisions that will ensure that the welfare of the youth is looked into within the proposed reforms and it is not short of that.

Kenyans are facing the test of patriotism as we go over the report. We must not let this rare moment escape our grasp by squabbling over issues that we can iron out among ourselves. The security of the country is paramount and thus we must do all we can to realise the dream of a peaceful nation. All the other challenges can only be overcome when we have a peaceful atmosphere to do so.

Jacob Oketch. The writer is the author of Aphorism and Poems of Light. [email protected]