Ageyo’s Angle: The BBI pause


Ageyo's Angle: The BBI pause
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the Kisii State Lodge after they received the Building Bridges (BBI) Report from the Steering Committee led by Senator Yusuf Haji. PHOTO | PSCU

On my angle this week I will speak about the BBI pause – or at least the postponement of the start of the signature collection that would have started today.

This development has come as a relief to a number of people- first to those who are completely opposed to the BBI, those who say it is answering questions that no one is asking. The second group consists of those who say they have no problem with BBI but think it is ill-timed since the country is currently in the clutches of a pandemic.

Then there is that group that says the BBI report is fine overall but needs to be tweaked a little to accommodate their points of view which they say have not been captured. 

But there are perhaps some Kenyans who are disappointed tonight because they probably wanted the process to move along quickly and be over with. But tonight I see this BBI pause as a great moment of national reflection, a period for the US to re-examine everyone’s motive in this process and hopefully emerge on the other side with Kenya in mind. 

Because, frankly, the last two years have revealed the height of bad faith and hypocrisy from both sides of the political divide on this BBI question. 

I will start with the opponents of the process that have so far appeared to be led principally, by the deputy president.

This group has been pointing out all manner of perceived shortcomings of this document even before it was published. 

This is the same group that either boycotted or attempted to disrupt some meetings at which Kenyans gave their views to the BBI task force. It was therefore only natural that their views could not have been captured in the final document. 

Why would they act surprised that the task force did not include their ex post facto views in the final report? You would understand some religious leaders and other groups that have said they gave their views but those views were not included in the final report.

But all that is only part of the BBI story. You see, where I come from there is an old saying about blaming the mongoose and the chicken in equal measure. You see the president together with the ODM leader Raila Odinga started this process. 

They shook hands and told us that they had finally had an epiphany. That they finally understood what was wrong with Kenya. That they had sat down and agreed to finally fix the problem. And as if to immortalize their resolve they aptly named the whole process the building bridges to a united Kenya initiative.

 In other words, they set out to use the process to unite Kenya- the whole of it. But what we have heard in the last few days has been anything but unifying. 

In the face of stiff opposition and a growing number of dissenting voices from some politicians, from governors, from pastoralists, from church leaders, we have been told that the document is closed – like the bible. 

That not even a comma or full stop can be changed. In fact, the ODM leader said the other day that only what he called ‘editorial changes’ could be made. Now, I find that particularly startling. 

Because, first, even the very constitution we are talking is not immune to being changed – that is what the referendum would about, no? But more importantly, the BBI was not sold to us as just another political contest where some people would be for and others against.

 It was supposed to be a ceasefire process, one that finally kicks off the journey to a lasting national concord.

 If that be the case, then it cannot be rushed as if there is a deadline to national unity. And it cannot be treated as the exclusive domain of one or two people or groups of people.

Here is my point – the politicians on both sides have not seen any light. They see BBI as just another tool to mobilise us along the usual lines.

They see it as just another platform to test their political muscle, a rehearsal of sorts ahead of 2022. 

It is sadly, hardly about you and I. That is why a section of the DP’s supporters would see the suspension of signature collection as some kind of victory. 

That is why some supporters of the former Prime Minister see the latest development as a possible sign of ‘betrayal’ by the President.

And so you whether support BBI or oppose it, tonight we must tell both sides to give us a break. 

We must chart our owns path without the jaundiced lenses of politicians who will switch sides tomorrow and shake hands after they have burnt all our bridges.

 

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