BBI Reggae Paused
The BBI reggae has been paused yet again, jolting the unity drive into a deeper uncertainty over consensus.
This comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga postponed the launch of the signature collection drive.
On Thursday, the two were to roll out the collection of at least one million signatures required to trigger the amendment of the Constitution. The event, which was to take place at the KICC, Nairobi, was called off at the last minute.
In a statement, the joint secretariat spearheading the signature collection cited the failure to publish the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020, on time. The signature drive will now be launched next week on a day to be communicated soon.
“The postponement has been necessitated by late completion and publication of the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020, which is scheduled for printing later tonight (Wednesday night),” read a statement by BBI National Secretariat.
The suspension of official signature drive by the handshake principals through their joint secretaries – Dennis Waweru and Junet Mohamed – is said to have caught many unawares.
Kenyatta, insiders say, is at the crossroads as to whether to let the process roll on even as the coronavirus crisis persists.
But Suna East MP Junet Mohamed—who alongside former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru co-chairs the BBI secretariat—dismissed as “Tangatanga propaganda” claims that Uhuru and Ruto’s meeting stopped the launch.
“That is Tangatanga propaganda,” Junet told the Star.
The main reason: the country is ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy is sliding and people are in financial pain. Is BBI more important than that?
Some quarters say the apparent prioritization of BBI at the expense of securing resources for Covid-19 response has left a bitter taste in their mouths.
Deputy President William Ruto says the Covid-19 emergency response should be the government’s priority.
“The pandemic is killing people including health workers while destroying livelihoods. We should stop everything and mobilize every human, material and financial resource to fight,” the DP said recently.
While his sentiments were echoed by ODM chairman John Mbadi (Suba South MP and National Assembly Minority leader) who said it was untrue the country’s resources are dedicated primarily to BBI at the expense of Covid-19.
The MP said the need to care for people is what caused the promoters to stop rallies to popularise the BBI document. “You can’t gamble with people’s lives.”
However, a NIS report to the President said their survey showed only 19 percent of Kenyans were in favour of a BBI referendum. This even as the handshake principals are under pressure to build consensus on the document to avert a contested referendum that would result in ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides.