President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have launched the BBI signature collection drive calling on Kenyans to support the initiative as a way of redefining the country’s politics and ensuring there is peace in the future.
Deputy President William Ruto was conspicuously absent as the President and the ODM leader led the launch at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) grounds.
The President said the constitutional amendment process is aimed at strengthening the 2010 Constitution by providing solutions to some of Kenya’s emerging and historical challenges such as the recurrent post-election violence, and urged Kenyans to back the exercise.
“This document is supposed to treat the problems and challenges that face us as a nation. Let us not take it as a divisive document or one that is going to contain all our issues because at different stages in nation’s history there will come others… in America after 200 years they are on the 37th amendment,” said Kenyatta.
The Head of State cautioned Kenyans not to forget that the BBI process is what has been behind the peace that has prevailed in the country for the last two years.
“Because of the peace that has prevailed in this country since the handshake, many Kenyans have forgotten what was happening at the time… I can tell you as your president, who consumed first-hand information from a multitude of sources, if there had been no handshake, this country would have been brought to its knees,” said the President.
Odinga reiterated that the BBI process provides a fresh opportunity for the country to embark a new journey towards realising the “Kenyan dream.”
“We are starting a new journey today and we invite each and every Kenyan to walk with us. We are confident that if we come together as a people nothing can stop us from realising the Kenyan dream as coined by the founding fathers of our nation. So reggae went on recess because it was halftime. Wachezaji wamerudi kwa kiwanja… Nobody can stop reggae,” said Odinga.
The ODM leader dismissed assertions that the BBI would create an imperial President, further indicating that the proposal to have the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers in Parliament was much better for accountability purposes that the current systems, where Cabinet Secretaries have to be summoned and sometimes bullied in Parliament to answer questions.
Kenyatta and Raila said they had agreed to come together to ensure that they dealt with the country’s divisive politics and to improve on the 2010 constitution.
“I appeal to the patriotic Kenyans to come out in record numbers and append their approval in a record time so that we move to the next chapter… There comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic nor popular but because it is right,” said Odinga.
The BBI National Coordination Secretariat co-chaired by Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru hopes to collect at least 4 million signatures, even though only 1 million signatures of registered voters verified by IEBC are required to move the process to the county assemblies.
At least 24 county assemblies must support the Bill, for the process to proceed to a referendum, regardless of the verdict in the National Assembly and Senate.