Inside Uhuru, Raila BBI campaign plan 

Uhuru and Raila

President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga distribute BBI signing documents to regional representatives at Kenyatta International Convention Center on November 25, 2020 when they launched the collection of signatures.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • President Kenyatta and ODM leader Odinga expected to launch drive next week
  • They have zoned the country into 10 regions, each led by a team of senior politicians, clerics, trade unionists and civil society leaders

Details have emerged on the 10 regions that President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s camps have zoned the country into, to ensure effective referendum campaigns.

The President and Mr Odinga are expected to launch the nationwide Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns on Monday, even as Parliament prepares to consider the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020, which 39 county assemblies had endorsed by yesterday evening.

The Orange boss yesterday declared that the quest to amend the Constitution was unstoppable.

He promised to visit Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru in a charm offensive in the President’s backyard, where Ruto-allied MPs have asserted Raila is impossible to market as a presidential candidate. 

“Some people have been saying Raila cannot come to the mountain or that he is not wanted in Mt Kenya. Woe unto you. I’ll climb the mountain. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again,” Mr Odinga declared yesterday when he met youth leaders from the three counties at Ufungamano House, Nairobi.

Meanwhile, even though each of the 10 teams will be led by a senior politician, proponents of BBI want some civil society leaders, clergy, trade unionists and representatives of special interest groups to also have lead roles in the campaigns to promote the document.

10 regions

Having representation other than politicians in the top echelons of the campaign is intended to try to limit polarising political rhetoric and help woo broad-based support for the proposed constitutional amendments, which the team anticipate by June. 

The 10 regions are Coast, North Eastern, Upper Eastern (Meru, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Marsabit and Isiolo), Lower Eastern (Machakos, Kitui and Makueni), Central, Nairobi, North Rift, South Rift, Nyanza and Western.

Political heavyweights, including regional kingpins and select governors allied to the President and the Orange boss will be tasked with popularising the document.

A source privy to the secretariat’s plan told the Nation that the new leadership to be announced before the end of the week will bolster the previous team of governors established by President Kenyatta to popularise the BBI report last year.

The President had named eight county chiefs in the National Steering Committee of the BBI that worked with the ODM leader in the drive.

They included Charity Ngilu, Hassan Joho, Anne Waiguru, Wycliffe Oparanya, James Ongwae, Kiraitu Murungi, Joseph ole Lenku, Ali Korane and Alex Tolgos.

Regional kingpins

“This team will be bolstered and we expect regional kingpins, including Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, to be roped in, but they must be answerable to the two principals, President Kenyatta and the Prime Minister [Mr Odinga],” a source familiar with the strategy said.

Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and his Machakos counterpart Dr Alfred Mutua as well as some top civil servants are also said to be targeted for inclusion in the campaign teams. 

Dr Kituyi, the former Unctad boss, who has announced his bid for presidency, has however publicly indicated he does not want to involve himself in BBI campaigns.

Yesterday, BBI Secretariat co-chairmen Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru, flanked by the parliamentary leadership and some legislators announced that 10 “high-powered” teams shall be set up to campaign for the document.

“We have a plan to roll out national campaigns from next week to cover all parts of the country. We’re going to have 10 teams, which will camp in every corner, every sub-location and every village of this country starting March 1,” Mr Junet said.

He said every team will be headed by a senior leader with his team of around 10 MPs and 10 leaders from other sectors of leadership tasked to criss-cross their respective regions conducting civic education.

Additional report by Patrick Lang’at


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