Uhuru: BBI changes must go to referendum as a package

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with ODM party leader Raila Odinga and Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o during a public rally in Kisumu on October 22, 2020.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Head of State, addressing Kisumu residents on his tour of the county on Thursday, acknowledged that some proposals in the BBI report require administrative and legislative action, but said they must be submitted to the referendum as a package, to ensure complete healing of the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has cautioned against quick fixes in the proposed reforms in Kenya, saying proposals in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report must be treated as a package.

The Head of State, addressing Kisumu residents on his tour of the county on Thursday, acknowledged that some proposals in the BBI report require administrative and legislative action, but said they must be submitted to the referendum as a package, to ensure complete healing of the country.

Historical injustices

Noting that BBI was seeking to sort out historical injustices in the country and complete the liberation journey of Kenya’s founding fathers, the President said quick fixes through piecemeal approaches had failed in the past, cautioning against taking suggestions to treat some proposals administratively and through legislative action.

“I have heard some people say that some of the proposals in BBI only require administrative and legislative action. Yes, we are aware of that but what is required is a full package that will ensure complete healing of the country,” he said.

“We want to address all the problems bedevilling Kenya. So let’s not say we can do it any other way. It must be taken together as a package, we shall do it together as a package that addresses what ails the Republic of Kenya in the hope of making our country better, in the hope of making our country stronger, in the hope of ensuring our people are able to live a prosperous life without fear," the President said.

The President and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga pitched camp in Kisumu county on Thursday where they preached the BBI gospel, a day after they officially received the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, declaring that they were focused on building a legacy of a united Kenya on the reforms platform.

Development tour

Kisumu town was thrown into an ecstatic mood as the President and Mr Odinga made a joint official development tour where the President, on his third day in Nyanza, launched several ''handshake'' projects initiated in the region since their coming together in March 2018.

The atmosphere was euphoric as jubilant Kisumu residents gathered in large crowds at strategic positions on Kisumu roads where they warmly received the two leaders, breaking into ecstasy as the duo made its way past.

The two last jointly made an official development tour of the county early last year when most of the projects were mooted and started.

Yesterday’s visit came hot on the heels of the recent inroads made by Deputy President William Ruto in the region through his ''Hustler Movement'' formation, which was launched in the Luo Nyanza counties recently.

At the meeting with Nyanza leaders yesterday, sources say the President expressed his displeasure with his deputy to an extent of casting doubts on his ability to run the country.

“The President said someone was not happy about the Handshake and, since then, while he has had peace, the other person has resorted to insults and early campaigns,” the source told the Nation.

'Handshake' projects 

Yesterday, the President launched the 10,000 capacity Uhuru Business Complex, popularly referred to as Uhuru Market, which was constructed to accommodate traders who were displaced from parts of the Kenya Railways land in the central business district to pave way for the expansion and refurbishment of the Kisumu Port, one of the ''handshake'' projects.

The President also launched the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium and the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex -- previously known as Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds -- promising some Sh100 million to the county government for an upgrade of the latter.

The President, who has spent the last three days in Nyanza region, arrived at the lakeside city on Wednesday evening from a development tour of Kisii and Nyamira where he launched several projects after receiving the taskforce report jointly with Mr Odinga at Kisii State Lodge.

He spent the night at the State Lodge in Kisumu, and would hold a 30-minute meeting with leaders from the Nyanza region at the Yacht Club -- his favourite joint in Kisumu where they discussed regional development matters.

Sources at the meeting said the local leaders were more appreciative of the President for pumping money into several ongoing projects.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong’o spoke on behalf of the governors while Seme MP Dr James Nyikal, who is also chairperson of Luo parliamentarians, represented the MPs.

Support Jubilee agenda 

“The meeting did not take long because it was simply telling the President 'asante' for the projects and also promising to support his administration and development agenda,” said Mr Atandi of Alego Usonga.

It was the third day the President was in Nyanza region after presiding over the Mashujaa Day celebrations at Gusii Stadium in Kisii on Tuesday.

The duo highlighted parts of the BBI report, citing the enhanced allocation to counties, economic empowerment for the youth, gender balance and opportunities for the marginalised groups.

“That is why we brought you BBI. So that our youth can grow economically. No more fighting, no more teargas, no more Baby Pendo deaths,” Mr Odinga said.

“With this, we shall go and come out of elections and people will be satisfied and happy with the process because there will be no fighting,” said the ODM leader.

In an apparent reference to Dr Ruto’s inroads in the region, he said his journey with the President will not be stopped, asking his supporters not to allow themselves to be ''hoodwinked''’

“This journey we have taken is no child’s play and that is why we must be ready for it by pulling together as a region including the Kisii community,” he said.

“This is not a time that we should see some youths being ferried to some places to be given tokens and wheelbarrows,” said Mr Odinga.

Addressing the gathering at the Sports complex, the President said the ''handshake'' had brought him peace.

“For me, what has brought me peace in my heart is the handshake,” he said. “We can do everything, revamp the port, build the railway line and all else but without peace it is all in vain,” he said.

He lauded Mr Odinga, saying he has remained steadfast in his resolve to work with him despite attacks from some quarters. “Whatever people say, my brother here has remained firm. It shows he is not self-centred,” he said.

“If we love our country, let us put aside our ambitions. Some of us opposed the BBI report even before seeing it,” he said, highlighting some of the provisions in the document.

“We sat with Baba here and we said no more bloodshed. We had to go to the root of the problem and dissect the problem,” he stated.

The President highlighted the projects so far implemented by the National Government in the region, saying more shall be done. He ordered completion of the stalled Kisumu Boys-Mamboleo Road before April next year.

Greatest legacy 

Present at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports complex where they addressed the ecstatic crowds were Governor Nyong’o, Cabinet Secretaries Dr Fred Matiang’i, Prof George Magoha, Amina Mohamed and James Macharia.

Also present were Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, senators Fred Outa, James Orengo, Rose Nyamunga and National Assembly MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Samuel Atandi (Alego Usonga), Peter Masara (Suna West), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Woman Rep), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Fred Nyamita (Uriri), TJ Kajwang (Ruaraka), Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Dr James Nyikal (Seme), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu Town East), Fatuma Gedi (Wajir Woman Rep), Speaker of the Kisumu County Assembly and local MCAs.

Junet said the greatest legacy the two leaders could leave was a united Kenya. “We support the BBI and we know it shall transform Kenya. There is no basis for anyone to oppose it. So keep walking together and don’t let go of each other’s hands,” he said.

Speaker Lusaka pledged Senate support for the process, promising that the BBI document would be endorsed with speed.