Fall out rocks 'cooked' BBI report, referendum calls - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Fall out rocks 'cooked' BBI report, referendum calls


Was the BBI report 'doctored'? It certainly has created a storm.

The final BBI proposals - which took months to deliver though the report was complete long ago - have triggered discord among task force members. Some claim the document was doctored and members were forced to sign the final report.

The report that has caused a furore was handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga at the Kisii State Lodge on October 21.

Major John Seii, a member of the 14-member BBI task force, claimed on Thursday that some of the sweeping proposals were totally alien because they never featured in their initial deliberations.

Seii said the addition of 70 more constituencies was inserted without their knowledge, in addition to other major changes - hardly 'tweaks'.

"In our minds, we had heard the call from Kenyans to  Kupunguza Mzigo. The donkey is tired and should be relived and if not so, then do not add more burden.

"Then we saw the introduction of 70 MPs. Then we asked, where did the 70 come from? Who said this county should get them and the others will not get them," he asked.

However, BBI joint secretary Paul Mwangi, termed "shocking" Seii's claims of tampering to suit political interests, saying the country's leadership never interfered with the task force's work.

“The allegations made by John Seii are shocking because we followed the same protocols that we had agreed on. The protocol was always that after discussions, we would go for a retreat and reach a decision on every matter,” he said.

Mwangi said that before the report was submitted they all met again and read the report and confirmed it is what was agreed on before it was submitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"I do not know what the purpose of making those allegations was. It looks like the purpose is to add to the trashing of the report," Mwangi said.

Seii claimed a high-level meeting allegedly attended by Raila and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho three days to the Kisii event pressured them to sign the report containing new elements they had not seen.

Speaking at the Kalenjin vernacular radio station Emoo FM on Thursday, Seii said they agreed to sign because Raila's presence gave them confidence that all was well.

“Raila and PS Kibicho came to the Friday meeting in Kisii so we saw the weightiness of it and we had been assured that there were no changes [to the first BBI report].

"We reached a level of giving them the benefit of doubt. So we concluded that because Raila and Kibicho were there, let's believe they are telling us the truth,” he said.

Seii further said task force members who tried to question the hurried signing of the report before they could read it were assured by the secretariat that it was the original version unveiled at Bomas last December.

He claimed, for instance, task force member Dr Florence Omose was adamant she would not sign the report. However, he said he saw similarities between her signature and that of James Matundura.

"Omose declined to sign, arguing that she cannot sign what she had not seen. She was talked to until she accepted to sign, albeit with reservations. She asked why she was not given a chance to go through it first," he said.

Seii said some members of the task force felt betrayed. 

Task force member James Matundura disagreed with Seii saying the final BBI report contained the proposals they had agreed on at the steering committee.

“I am a Christian and I have to be brutally honest, nothing new was introduced into the report, it was actually a presentation of all our deliberations 100 per cent," he told the Star.

Matundura, who is the Kisii Council of Elders chairman, dismissed as “irresponsible and reckless” Seii's claims that some members were forced to sign the final report.

“We were all there and Seii was there, nobody forced anyone to sign the report, we all signed willingly without any pressure,” Matundura said.

Seii, former chairman of the Kalenjin Council of Elders, said when they were asked to go to the people for a second time, he realised something was amiss.

"Instead of the task force visiting people to carry out validation, we were taken aback that the validation was to be done differently in political rallies," he said.

The former military man said the hiring of 35 experts to draft the final report was partisan, with only two Kalenjins.

He said the number of experts was later scaled down to 18. 

"From Mt Kenya, they were very few, just four, then the rest were from Nyanza and Western," he said.

Seii also protested against Kenyans with divergent views being locked out of the BBI process.

"We feel even the word 'inclusivity', which was one of the thematic areas, has been betrayed. Why are people not being allowed to give their opinions?" he asked.

The political axis of Deputy President William Ruto is among those who have protested that divergent voices are being locked out of the process.

The BBI team, formally known as the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Task force, completed its assignment on June 30.

The Steering Committee was comprised of Senator Yusuf Haji, Bishop Lawi Imathiu, Maison Leshomo, James Matundura, Rose Museu, Agnes Kavindu Muthama, Saeed Mwaguni, Bishop Peter Njenga and Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth.

Others were Professor Adams Oloo, Amos Wako, Florence Omose, Morompi ole Ronkei and Major (Rtd) John Seii.

Martin Kimani and Mwangi were the joint secretaries.

Seii's claims lifted the lid on the intrigues that marred the writing of the report.

President Kenyatta has publicly stated that he allowed Ruto to nominate three members of the Yusuf Haji-led panel.

On Monday, Uhuru told pro-BBI troops in Naivasha that Ruto was dishonest in his objections to the report because he was part of the process from its inception.

Seii is said to be among the three elders Ruto picked.

On Thursday, some members of the BBI task force questioned Seii's intentions of disowning a document they said he signed willingly without being coerced.

Bishop Lawi Imathiu dismissed Seii's claims saying he could have raised his concerns at the right forum instead of whining to the media.

“As far as I am concerned, we signed the report, meaning we already agreed with what was in it. To complain now is water under the bridge,” Imathiu said.

He went on, “We should keep what transpired in the meeting for the meeting. it is wrong to discuss such issues in the media, we now have the report and we should own it,” he said.

The BBI report proposes far-reaching changes to the country's governance structure in what its proponents say is the magic portion to the country's historical problems of exclusion, including addressing the winner-take-all scenario.

Since the report was unveiled at the Bomas of Kenya on October 26, critics including Deputy President William Ruto have mounted an aggressive campaign against the BBI proposals.

Ruto has argued the BBI proposals do not address the challenges facing ordinary Kenyans whom he has praised as hustlers and instead seek to create positions for the political elite.

The DP has warned against some proposals, such as the presidential appointment of the Judiciary Ombudsman, selection of electoral commissioners, disbandment of the police commission and the diminished role of the Senate.

The DP has also criticised the creation of the positions of prime minister with two deputies and the proposed gender balance formula. He says they do not reflect the spirit of many hustlers. 

However, his efforts to push for what he calls a win-win situation on the BBI report through consensus appears to have hit a wall after the crucial Naivasha meeting slammed the door on any amendments to the report.

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