President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga and the Deputy President William Ruto led other leaders in launching the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya on 26th, October.
It was an event full of activities with speeches from most of the leaders present. ODM leader Raila Odinga, DP William Ruto and the President were among the last people to give their remarks. Among those who spoke were ANC chair Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and many others.
Raila Odinga started his speech by recalling a previous similar event at the Bomas in 2004 where he was a delegate. He also mentioned the late Dr Odhiambo Mbaye who was appointed to chair the committee of devolution but never lived to see its fruits as he was shot dead.
The former Prime Minister gave a brief history of the background that led to the 2010 promulgated constitution. He applauded the progress that Kenya has taken from 2010 in terms of constitution reviews. Also, he emphasized the fact that the constitution that we have is a work in progress and that BBI seeks to strengthen it.
Mr Odinga clarified the fact BBI report is a result of wide consultations from various parts of Kenya and therefore it’s not an idea of two people (him and the president).
He took the chance to welcome the Deputy President to work with them in making sure the BBI is passed unconditionally.
“Your Excellency, as the Bibble says, Isaiah 1:18, come now let us reason together,” he said, quoting the Bible and the Quoran.
Raila Odinga urged leaders to work together for the interests of Kenyans.
“We are saying come and let us reason together as a people of Kenya. Let us talk together and let us not talk at each other but let us talk to each other. Because Kenya is bigger than all of us,” he added.
Mr Raila Odinga also stated clearly the intentions of BBI. He said that sharing positions is not the reason why they created BBI.
“It’s not about making Uhuru Kenyatta the Prime Minister or Raila Odinga, the president. This is not why we brought this,” Raila said.
The former Prime Minister then invited DP to give his remarks.
The Deputy President, on giving his take seemed not to be fully agreeing with the proposal of the BBI. He presented his concerns urging the relevant stakeholders to look into the issues addressed. For example, he questioned the issue of IEBC as stated in the new report.
I demand a fair IEBC-Ruto
“The recommendations that I have read say that political parties participate in the appointment of commissioners to IEBC…How fair will be a league where the referee is appointed by teams and not all the teams but some teams?” DP questioned.
He further raised concern over the independence of the police force. He reiterated that according to the 2010 constitution, “the police must act independently of any politicians whether in government or the opposition”.
“To recommend that we will have a police council chaired by a CS is actually a derogation from the independence of the police,” he said.
Mr Ruto further brought to light the issue on the powers of the senate as recommended in the new BBI report. According to him, the new recommendations downgrade the power of the senate and the women in general.
“In any case, we are now saying women and the participation of women in our governance doesn’t make us weaker it makes us stronger. It doesn’t make us lesser but greater.
“If we are saying in the proposal that women now go to the senate. And you are saying that when women go to the senate they are going to the Senate which has been downgraded…Are you enhancing the participation of women or are you downgrading their participation?” the DP questioned.
As expected, the Deputy President had to mention something on wheelbarrows and the mkokotenis. He said that he speaks on behalf of millions of hustlers.
“How comes in the 21st century, millions of citizens in the 21st century are still dependent on a wheelbarrow? That is the discussion we need to have,” he added.
Deputy President Heckled
However, this did not go well with the majority of the audience as he received a heckling from some members present.
Lastly, it was the president’s turn to give his speech, and he didn’t disappoint. He first calmed the audience who were still chanting “respect the president” to DP William Ruto.
Since he was celebrating his birthday, the congregation decided to sing for him a happy birthday song in a fashionable and colourful manner. He then recognised the main contributors of the BBI report before giving his full speech.
President Kenyatta started by stating that the main aim of BBI was nothing more than finding what is ailing Kenya and further seek the solution to the same. He thanked Raila Odinga for the handshake citing it’s not meant for any selfish gains other than ensuring that Kenya experiences nothing but peace.
“We did not talk about sharing government and as we stand today, he is not in government, he never made any demands for government..he said that let’s get together and fix that which ails us that will allow us in future to be able to compete without the need of innocent blood to be shed,” the president added.