Let’s do whatever it takes to keep BBI a consensual process

From its formative moments, the Building Bridges Initiative has been a consensual process.
The handshake was a meeting of two political heavyweights, two minds, moving in the same direction. This then led to further inclusion as other political actors joined the already clasped hands.

Subsequently, many discussions took place and the direction of engagement began to crystalise.
The BBI was never imposed by our leaders on the people, rather it was an initiative that was about listening, participating and engaging.

The people were consulted, with an open mind and heart, and have been a full party to the process from the beginning.
It was with great anticipation that we all began studying the report and all its aspects and facets. It is a truly fascinating read and gives much food for thought.
I know that Kenyans are discussing the various merits at work, in church or mosque, and at the dinner table. These discussions have great merit as we bounce ideas and critiques off each other and hear competing opinions and narratives on this far-reaching document.

Nevertheless, no sooner had the report has been released in full, and before many have had a full chance to read, digest and debate its merit, there are some politicians who are rushing to have it adopted in full by parliament.
These rush actors fly in the face of the spirit that President Uhuru Kenyatta infused into this unprecedented process.
They seek to annul the time allocated to the public to send in suggestions, reactions and recommendations on the document before a final version is presented. They aggressively rail against even the idea of a referendum, where the people will have the final say on these reforms and innovations.

Some use the excuse of time and expense, but how can we put a price on shaping the future of our nation for the better.
We may never have another leader who is so willing to abdicate his executive power hard-won at the ballot box so we can all be a full party to meeting the important challenges that lay ahead.
We have had many false dawns and broken promises in the past to fix our societal problems and our divisive electoral and political system that we dare not waste this golden chance.

The President has clearly laid out the path that the BBI report is supposed to take, and by his words and deeds he wishes it to be consensual.
There are those who jump on any uttering, like the honest clarification by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who said that the BBI report is not legislation, nor was it written in such a way, so it cannot be rushed through Parliament.
These parliamentarians know well what does and does not constitute a law, so their cause is harmed by their impatience.

Interestingly, many of these people are the same voices who actively campaigned against the BBI from the beginning. They have rarely sought the people’s input and now want to hijack the almost final product for their own narrow political interests.
Thankfully, Uhuru will not be bowed by threats and will continue working with the people, and not against them.

It could be that of the two options – parliamentary initiative or referendum – in the end it will be for the legislators, the nation’s elected representatives, to debate and pass many of the proposals in the report in a fully open legislative process.

However, that is still a long way from being decided and in this process where the people are sovereign, we will gain a greater understanding of what our citizens want by waiting and not by jumping.

Kenya’s future will be built by consensus and not by minority dissent and resistance.
We have come too far, and many people around the country, including the thousands of ordinary Kenyans who contributed and continue to contribute to this historic process, will not allow their stake in it to be hijacked.

Uhuru has steered this process away from just the usual circle of decision-makers because the issues dealt with in the initiative are far too weighty for it to be decided by the few.
These proposals will affect each and every Kenyan intimately in our daily lives, so it is apt that we go forward together in the process in unity and accord.

This is a process that demands popular consensus, and no one should seek to steal that from the Kenyan people.

Mr Mugolla comments on topical issues.


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