Raila starts BBI campaigns in Kisii
- At least 3,000 delegates – 500 from each of the six Nyanza counties – will converge in Kisii to begin the conversation that could lead to a myriad of changes to the BBI proposals.
- Boni Khalwale has accused President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga of having a hidden card on the BBI ahead of the 2022 polls while Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi claims forums are a waste of funds.
The journey towards constitutional amendments through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) starts today, with ODM leader Raila Odinga all set to launch the first regional consultative meeting in Kisii County.
The meeting follows Mr Odinga’s stated intention to take the conversation on BBI to the people at the grassroots.
On Thursday, Mr Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango confirmed that the ODM leader will attend today’s meeting to be held at Kisii Sports Club and thereafter a public rally at Gusii Stadium.
Mr Odinga said delegates from the country’s eight regions – Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Coast, North Eastern, Eastern, Nairobi and Central – will have an opportunity to recommend changes before the report is taken to a referendum.
“At least 500 people from each region will meet to discuss the recommendations. Their final draft will then be taken to Kenyans to decide on the future of the report,” Mr Odinga told a gathering in Waondo village during the burial of Ms Dorcas Ajwang’, mother of Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’.
Today, at least 3,000 delegates – 500 from each of the six Nyanza counties – will converge in Kisii to begin the conversation that could lead to a myriad of changes to the BBI proposals.
Western leaders will hold the second meeting on January 18.
Similar events will take place in other parts of the country.
Already, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are jittery, saying there is a hidden agenda in the meetings.
Meanwhile, former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale has accused President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga of having a hidden card on the BBI ahead of the 2022 polls while Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi claimed the forums are a waste of funds.
Dr Khalwale claims there is a plot to use the BBI meetings to scuttle Dr Ruto’s presidential bid.
“They brought us BBI One and we found it acceptable but then, out of the blue, they decided to call for BBI Two … given the behaviour of the owners of the BBI, Uhuru and Raila, we put on hold any debate as to when we can have a referendum,” he said.
The six governors from Nyanza — James Ongwae (Kisii), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Okoth Obado (Migori), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), John Nyagarama (Nyamira) — and 10 others from outside the region, senators, MPs, county speakers, ward reps and residents are expected at today’s event.
Mr Ongwae, the host, said the meeting will be apolitical.
He said cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries from the region are expected to attend.
The meeting has put Mr Ongwae at loggerheads with his deputy, Mr Maangi, who is Dr Ruto’s pointman in Gusii region.
On Wednesday, hundreds of residents took to the streets protesting against Mr Maangi’s opposition to the meeting.
While rubbishing claims that the DP’s allies will be barred from the forum, Mr Ongwae said it will be open to all leaders.
“The meeting has nothing to do with politics; what we will be looking at is development for the region,” he said, adding that Migori Governor Obado, a Ruto ally, will be among the guests.
On Thursday, politicians from Kisumu County led by Governor Nyong’o and Homa Bay led by Governor Awiti addressed the media separately, saying they will discuss several issues touching on governance and development.
They vowed to push for a system of governance that will replace the ''winner-takes-all'' arrangement.
"We support the referendum as the only means of effecting the various recommendations touching on the Constitution, particularly the governance structure to address the winner-takes-all phenomenon which is responsible for the ills afflicting this nation and inhibiting its development potential,” said Prof Nyong'o.
The meeting, held at a Kisumu hotel, was attended by Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch, his Nyakach counterpart Aduma Owuor, nominated senator Rose Nyamunga, acting Kisumu Speaker Elisha Oraro and MCAs.
On Wednesday, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa met western Kenya governors in Mumias to plan for the BBI meeting to be held at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega town on January 18.
Governors Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) said the meeting is important because they will have an opportunity to take a common stand on the BBI report.
“We have agreed, as a process of consultation, to meet on January 12 in Bungoma with all local leaders so that everybody including MPs, senators and MCAs are brought on board,” Mr Oparanya said.
But just as in Kisii, the rift between western Kenya leaders over the planned meeting continues to widen.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and a host of leaders said the meeting will go on as planned despite a section of MPs allied to ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi saying they will not attend. “We are aware dark forces are conspiring to defeat this noble process,” Mr Malala said.
However, former Sports CS Rashid Echesa and several MPs said they will hold a parallel meeting in Kakamega to discuss real issues affecting residents.
“We cannot accept to be used to create positions for governors who are retiring and other people who think they are the only ones to dictate the political direction of this country,” said Mr Echesa.
Reporting by Justus Ochieng’, Ruth Mbula, Rushdie Oudia, Benson Ayienda, Shaban Makokha, George Odiwuor, Ken Wamasebu and Samwel Owino.