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WHAT IS BBI?

You might have heard a lot about it during the past few months because of mixed reactions from Kenyans. Others were for it while some were against it even before its release at the BOMAS of Kenya on November 27th 2019 where 100 leaders from theĀ  47 counties attended.

BBI which is Building Bridges Initiative in full, is a report by the BBI taskforce, a group appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga to do a research to find out ways to bring peace and resolve ethnic animosity in Kenya due to post election violence.

BBI was formed to work under the guidance of the president and former prime minister to promote a universal approach that will help Kenyans understand the role of devolution in contributing to the development of the nation.

It took ‘the handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila odinga that left millions of Kenyans confused and the BBI proposal to calm protesters during the 2017 elections. This saved a lot of bloodshed as compared to the 2007 post-election violence.

The BBI taskforce was given a one year draft to collect information from the 47 counties and come back with their findings. The taskforce gazette list comprised of Adams Oloo, Agnes Kavindu, Senator Amos Wako, Florence Omose, Saeed Mwanguni, James Matundura, Major John Seii, Bishop Lawi Imathiu, Maison Leshomo, Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji, Morompi ole Ronkai Prof., Bishop Peter Njenga, Rose Moseu and Archbishop Zecheus Okot. The joint secretaries of the taskforce are Amb. Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi.

The 9 issues that were to be tackled included;

  1. Corruption.
  2. Safety and security.
  3. Divisive elections.
  4. Devolution.
  5. Inclusivity.
  6. Lack of national ethos.
  7. Ethnic antagonism and competition.
  8. Shared prosperity.
  9. Responsibility and rights.

Ethnic antagonism and competition

Ethnic division is the big elephant in the room in Kenya. The relationship between various communities seems to deteriorate with time and has always been a narrative of us against them. Communities have antagonized one another and are often in unhealthy competition. Therefore, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga sought to urge Kenyans to engage in healthy competition devoid of ethnic profiling.

Lack of national ethos

There is a fear that Kenya has been defined internationally by its negative politics and the challenges that come along with it. Corruption and violence are synonymous with Kenya when it comes to the international community. Even though Kenya is home to many positive attributes, citizens have failed to define and promote their national ethos. BBI was challenged with establishing how Kenyans could enjoy nationhood and patriotism through common characteristics, beliefs, and aspirations.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity has been identified as one of the biggest challenges Kenyans face. Diversity has been used to divide the country instead of uniting it. Kenyans are separated by geographical location, language, and religion, among other things. Many parts of Kenya feel left out and alienated by the significant communities, especially those that have been in leadership positions. BBI was tasked to ensure that public institutions are accountable and impactful to all Kenyans at the national and county level.

Devolution

It is the major talking point from the Kenyan 2010 constitution. In as much as it has had its successes, several impediments have hindered the devolved units from serving their constituents effectively. There have been calls for the national government to relinquish some powers and more funds to the county governments. Some governors have even suggested that they should be in charge of the security apparatus within the counties. Devolution has also led to exclusivity in counties where some communities find themselves isolated by the people in those counties, thus creating marginalization. County governments are also struggling to be economically viable. Some of the suggestions that have come across as a remedy for this situation is for counties to coordinate their development plans in clusters defined by geographical and economic sectors. BBI was formed to work under the guidance of the president and former prime minister to promote a universal approach that will help Kenyans understand the role of devolution in contributing to the development of the nation.

Divisive elections

Elections are an emotive issue in Kenya. The cycle of elections has unfortunately tended to be accompanied by violence. The country gets almost crippled during campaigns and even long after the election exercise is completed. It impacts on investment and economic activity apart from being a threat to human life. Divisive elections have cost Kenyans their jobs and livelihoods, and the ethnic polarization is not suitable for development. With the help of BBI, Kenya should be able to overcome the negative cycle by understanding that in itself, an election is not the solution to the national challenges. Kenyans ought to adhere to the constitution and the laws of the land. This way, it would be easy to bring an end to ethnic antagonism and profiling while promoting inclusivity, devolution, and transparency.

Safety and security

It is a core mandate of the government to assure Kenyans that they are safe and secure. Unfortunately, many Kenyans are left to the mercy of natural and human-made disasters. Kenyans are in constant battles with hunger and drought. Lives are under threat, and that is why there is a need to initiate practical efforts to ensure that Kenyans in distress are accorded the aid they need. Solutions should be advanced for warring communities to reject violence and embrace alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The government is also to work with Kenyans to unite them against terrorism and related challenges.

Corruption

Corruption has been identified as an existential threat to Kenya. It is not only destroying lives but also dwarfs public trust and prosperity. It is a generational phenomenon in the country since independence, and now it is being passed to the young generation. Corruption has shattered the hopes of young people to forge an honest and proud living. The evil has undermined both public and private institutions alike necessitating urgent action if any hope is to be restored. This fight has to receive the backing of both political leaders and the citizens for it to succeed. BBI represents a new dawn in Kenyans politics as the task force tries to fiend long-term solutions to critical challenges such as divisive elections, corruption, and negative ethnicity. The awaited report will give way forward and is seen as what will unite the country once and for all.

Shared prosperity

In some parts of the country there are many who are doing well, and Kenya continues to be a leading destination for investment into the region. Yet too many Kenyans lack decent income, and investments lags behind compared to other nations.

There are blockages, and perverse incentives against innovation, growth and job creation in our economic system. The leaders agreed to work together so that prosperity comes to all.

Responsibilities and Rights

Their is no Kenyan whose right should be compromised no matter the interests against them.

Other key proposals include:

  • Introducing the position of a prime minister as a way to dilute power
  • Giving Kenya’s 47 counties bigger budgets to implement development schemes
  • Making the cabinet leaner and more representative of the nation
  • Giving corruption scam whistleblowers 5% of any funds recovered.

Another suggestion in the 156-page report is to introduce parenting classes “for all new parents so that they know how to properly instruct, correct, rebuke, and support their children”.

Although BBI addresses many issues it does not address scam whistleblowers and low wages for long working hours. It is said to have cost 10 billion Kenyan shillings but joint secretary Mr Kimani denied this saying it cost them less than 100 million Kenyan shillings as they did not pocket any allowances, and Kenyans should not think that there money is going to waste.

Featured Image courtesy of: Citizen TV Thomas Mukoya.