The debate on the Building Bridges Initiative report is expected to gain momentum on Wednesday when President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga make it public at a meeting in Nairobi, a day after officially receiving it.
The Head of State has invited 100 representatives from each of the 47 counties for a consultative meeting at Bomas of Kenya, where the report will be unveiled to the public as he seeks to cement his legacy by leaving a united country when he retires in 2022.
The BBI task force will formally hand over the report to the President and the ODM leader at State House on Tuesday in what is the culmination of months of consultation with Kenyans.
Details of the meeting emerged as Deputy President William Ruto criticised Mr Odinga for promising Kenyans a political tsunami after the report is made public, adding that the public should be given a chance to review the document before backing or rejecting it.
Mr Ruto said the report should not derail the country’s development agenda. “The most important thing to Kenyans is the fixing the infrastructure, fighting poverty and generating jobs for youth,” he said during a prayer service at the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa in Thika, Kiambu County.
He said the opinion of everyone will count if the BBI report is to be backed, and urged Kenyans to ignore those using threats to support the report whose contents are not yet known.
“Every Kenyan would be given a chance to read and understand the report. That way, we would agree on how we would move forward together,” the DP said
While addressing graduates at Kibabii University on Friday, President Kenyatta promised to make public the report once he received it from the task force.
On Sunday, the Nation learnt that key leaders and representatives have been invited for the Wednesday meeting to mark the start of the distribution of the report for Kenyans to read as major political realignments following the report continue.
Apart from unveiling the report, President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are expected to visit various parts of the country to market the document that is likely to be a game changer in addressing historical injustices and perennial post-election chaos.
Sources at State House said that the President will start fulfilling the recommendations of the report that require administrative action, such the issuing of title deeds to address land problems, immediately.
While the focus of the political class has mainly been on the structure of the executive, the source hinted that the task force has made far-reaching recommendations on the nine-point agenda agreed upon by the two leaders when they shook hands at Harambee House in March 2018.
To show the government’s resolve in implementing the report, the Ministry of Interior is said to have been ordered to mobilise 100 people from each county and facilitate their travel to the meeting.
Copies of the report will be distributed to the participants in what a source in the Office of the President said is a deliberate effort to ensure that the entire country is represented.
Invitations were sent by all 47 county commissioners. A text message sent to an MP and seen by the Nation simply reads: “Good afternoon ndugu, kindly attend the BBI launch at Bomas on Wednesday.”
While confirming that he had been invited, National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi hinted that the meeting may constitute a team of experts to look at the report and advise the President on the best way forward.
Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya confirmed the meeting and declared he would attend, and he was working with the Kakamega County Commissioner to prepare the county representatives.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru confirmed the invitation “not just to witness but to be part of this historic moment”.
“My support for the handshake is firmly founded on my belief that Kenya deserves a chance to be at her best. A country’s development is directly proportional to the extent of its political stability and this is what BBI is all about,” she told the Nation, expressing hope that the report captures the “handshake” spirit.
“I anticipate a report that has taken into consideration the various views of Kenyans as presented by various groups. I also expect that the report captures an expanded executive and most importantly that it explicitly factors the issue of gender equality across board.”
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata promised to mobilise as many people as possible for the event. “This is the day we have been waiting for. As a lawyer, it is my duty to read the report and explain it to the public. I have no doubt that Murang’a residents will rally behind the President,” he said yesterday.
Delving into history, Mr Kang’ata, who is also the deputy Majority Whip in the Senate, said whenever Mt Kenya and Western communities come together, Kenya makes major strides.
“The alliance between the two delivered independence in 1963, delivered the return to multiparty democracy in 1991 and ousted Kanu from power in 2002. It also ushered in a new constitution. BBI is what Han Kelsen called grund norm — the supreme constitutional norm.”
While senator majority whip Susan Kihika confirmed the meeting had been called, she had neither received the text messages nor an invite from the county commissioner by the time of going to press.
Asked whether she will attend, the senator was non-committal: “Let us cross that bridge when we get there,” she responded. Most of the DP Ruto Tangatanga brigade had not received the invitation by last evening.
The yet to be published report is said to have proposed a raft of measures to help unite the country and would require the two principals to visit various parts to address them.
“The report contains specific resolutions for various problems facing Kenyans in various counties. For instance, in areas where locals require title deeds the duo could ensure they are provided or even issue them. In cases which require reparations like the Wagalla massacre, they could also offer immediate, short or long term solution,” a member of the task force who is also close to President Kenyatta mentioned.
The official said it was because of addressing specific issues affecting various counties that had reduced opposition of the report by some leaders who feared losing political mileage once President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga visit their areas to resolve locals’ grievances.
The government has allocated Sh10 billion for the implementation of the BBI report to help address ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, safety and security and corruption. It is backed by the country’s topmost political leaders-President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetangula and Kanu’s Gideon Moi.