The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report was officially handed over to its principal champions (President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga) on Wednesday, and its effect is already being felt across the country.
There were initial speculations that the document calling for Constitutional amendments was only going to favor a few individuals, even as its patrons insisted that it is the only solution to challenges our country has been facing every election cycle, and for the improvement of the lives of ordinary Kenyans.
“Let’s not politicize life. Politics will come and go but life and the society called Kenya will remain, and we have particular moments in history to look at things that make us not move forward and rectify together and this is such a moment,” said President Kenyatta after receiving the report.
Odinga on his part stated that the report, and the recommendations that had been presented in it were not about him and President Uhuru Kenyatta, but about the almost 50 million Kenyans.
These leaders have called on all Kenyans to find time and read the document, before they make a final decision on whether to support the BBI or not.
While this is the way to go and the best thing to do, a worrying trend has also emerged, where Kenyans are supposedly waiting for their favourite politician to “Read the report for them”.
Before I penned down this piece, I took the liberty to share the BBI document in one of the WhatsApp group’s I’m in and asked members to read, before we had a discussion about it. The responses that followed my post were; “Baba (Raila) atatusomea, akisema iko sawa iko sawa”. “Uhuru alisema tupitishe iko sawa.” Very few of the friends I share the group with actually encouraged everyone to read.
This leaves one questioning if Kenyans will really go through the report, and make conscious decisions without being influenced by politicians.
I wouldn’t want to lay all the blame on the people. Politicians are also to blame for this. These are individuals who have millions of people following them, and their statements have great impact. One such politician is Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, who said Kenyans don’t have to read the BBI report, because his party leader (Raila Odinga) had said the BBI document is good, and they should believe his word.
“Advice to Kenyans, you don’t have to read the BBI report when Baba says it’s good then it is. He has gone through it and the content is for the interest of Kenyans.7 years tax holiday for youth, wow. After the tax holiday the youth will go for Sex holiday,” said the ODM legislator.
Such statements from politicians are misleading, and perhaps leaders should be barred from making public statements on the BBI, for a certain period to allow the people to read and understand what amendments are being recommended in the expected constitutional change.
Politicians need to give Kenyans a chance to make decisions that affect their lives, this goes from the President down to those opposed to the BBI report. Taking sides this early does not give Kenyans the option to decide what they want, it only gets them to follow blindly.
It’s also not a secret that most Kenyans have always depended on the politicians to read such crucial documents on their behalf and tell them what they need to do after. Will this time be different? Will Kenyans make that point of looking at the BBI report and make an informed decision that will not be influenced by politicians? Only time will tell.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the company.