Mount Kenya region leaders have urged the team tasked with furnishing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report to settle for a cost effective approach that will see the recommendations adopted as law.
Led by Embu Senator Njeru Ndigwa, the 57 legislators who congregated at Mountain Breeze Hotel in Embu, proposed that the BBI should be passed into law through a parliament vote and not a referendum.
The leaders said a referendum was very expensive arguing that the billions of shillings needed to convene a plebiscite can as well be used in reviving the ailing agricultural sector. “We strongly hold that any constitutional amendment in relation to BBI report should be parliament led.
Our people are already overburdened. Our national resources should be spared from a national referendum. It should be avoided. We can use the billions for our youth. For our coffee.
For our tea. For our milk. For our health. For Agenda Four programs,” Ndigwa said in a statement read on behalf of the lawmakers.
According to the legislators, incase a referendum was the only way to have the BBI recommendation passed, then the exercise ought to be conducted alongside the 2022 General Election.
This, they said will help the country save a lot of resources considering the amount of time and finances that have already been consumed by the Yusuf Haji led taskforce.
“If we must go the referendum route if at all, these broad values and perspectives must drive us. And that referendum must be based solely on the issues raised in the current BBI report.
A process that unites us, not one that divides us. We strongly hold that the referendum should be conducted alongside the 2022 general election,” the leaders said.
This comes to the fore even as it becomes apparent that the political class is reading from different scripts on whether the report should be adopted through parliament or a referendum.
Among leaders that have insisted that a referendum is held are ODM chief Raila Odinga, COTU boss Francis Atwoli, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna.
Dagorreti North MP Simba Arati claimed that the report will not survive if MPs are allowed to vote it in. He claimed the deputy president will influence the MPs and have the recommendations thrown out.
“There is a problem, let us all agree, there is nothing you are telling us that we are going to Parliament to discuss the BBI report. We know very well that one William Samoei Ruto will buy all MPs and they will bring a big problem to this country.
The only court where we will get justice is the one for the common mwananchi,” said Simba Arati. On Saturday, November 30, Deputy President William Ruto said that he had read through the report and had not seen any place that necessitated a referendum.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale also poked holes in the referendum narrative and asked the pro plebiscite leaders to go collect at least one million signatures from citizens. The people telling us referendum is a must, who are they quarrelling with?
Isn’t BBI a report commissioned by the President and cheered by former PM? If the report says we need referendum then there shall be one, if it says no then there will be none. Let’s implement it. Stop the hubris,” Senate Minority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said.