State officers could collect BBI signatures

BBI launch

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre), Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Bomas of Kenya during the launch of the BBI report.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Apart from political leaders overseeing the exercise in the ward, constituency, county and regional levels, the provincial administration was also being considered to fast-track the process.
  • Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata confirmed that some leaders met the BBI secretariat team in Kikuyu yesterday.

 The provincial administration could be roped in on the Building Bridges Initiative signature collection project, even as chances of holding a referendum in June next year slowly run out after last week’s postponement of the launch of the signatures drive.

The signature collection process was to kick off last Thursday through an official launch that would have been presided over by both President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Yesterday a member of the BBI secretariat told the Nation that the launch could be this week “so that we meet the December 2 deadline for the signature collection as agreed upon by the two principals and lawmakers in Naivasha”.

Apart from political leaders overseeing the exercise in the ward, constituency, county and regional levels, the provincial administration was also being considered to fast-track the process.

Read: Shelved launch of BBI signatures bid sparks big debate

“Certain leaders have been trying to poison the ground to frustrate this process. In such areas, we may consider using the provincial administration to collect signatures from those willing. There will be no coercion,” a source privy to the plans, and who requested anonymity, said.

Signature collection

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata confirmed that some leaders met the BBI secretariat team in Kikuyu yesterday. The meeting, he added, was “between select Central Kenya Members of Parliament and the BBI Secretariat”.

Asked when the launch of signature collection is likely to resume, the Murang’a Senator said: “Of course we expect the launch to be very soon as the BBI clock is ticking very fast.”

Read: Ruto dithers as church, politicians and civil society push him to lead ‘No’ camp[JO1] 

As the possibility of consensus on the contentious issues in the BBI report remains unclear, former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, who, together with Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, co-chairs the secretariat, said they were awaiting communication from President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga on the way forward.

“As it stands, the launch remains postponed until the two leaders give us a date,” Mr Waweru said yesterday.

Read: Uhuru, Raila and Ruto troops wait for word on BBI

The former MP spoke as it became clear that the protagonists will have to work hard to recoup the time lost as a result of the postponement and ensure the process is right on track to beat the strict deadlines provided in the law. The Constitution cannot be tampered with a year or less to an election, hence the August 2021 deadline for BBI.

A section of the BBI secretariat met to draw a programme for the signature collection and the mode to be used to achieve their five million target.

The Nation also learnt that there was a state of confusion over the format for the collection of signatures, which has forced the secretariat to write to the electoral agency for clarification.

Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju said there is need to fast-track the process to ensure the implementation of the report concludes by August next year.

“After August it will be one year to elections and therefore we can’t have a referendum,” Mr Tuju said, adding that there is need to support the BBI report and ensure its implementation is concluded before the next election.

But political observers say the way the BBI process is being handled is not healthy for the country and there is need to accommodate groups seeking changes to the report. They include Deputy President William Ruto, his Tangatanga troops, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, the Church and some civil society groups.

Two factions

“It is not doing as well as it should. It is not a matter of a train leaving the station, but a question of whether the railroad ahead, the one the train will run on, is straight, zigzag, damaged, or well maintained,” said Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University.

He pointed out that the BBI drive started with two clear factions “but now unfortunately there are three”.

“The faction that it is virtually perfect as it is and thus rejects discussion of any kind, that which claims the document is good and that it could use some panel beating – and in this faction are such unlikely people as Francis Atwoli, Charity Ngilu, and William Ruto.

“There is also the faction that is growing daily that rejects the BBI document in its totality and sees little good in it. In this faction are Martha Karua, Kivutha Kibwana, and some religious bodies.”

Political analyst Dismas Mokua argued that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga must give those with genuine divergent positions and views room to express themselves and incorporate same in the final document.

“This will increase the probability of having a document that captures the aspirations and interests of majority of Kenyans,” he said.

jjochieng@ke.nationmedia.com

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