Big Four agenda falters as Uhuru rushes push BBI legacy - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 27 December 2020

Big Four agenda falters as Uhuru rushes push BBI legacy


President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy - the Big Four - has lost traction as BBI and 2022 succession politics take centre stage.

The President had listed food security, affordable housing and healthcare and industrialisation as the Big Four Agenda to be well underway before he exits State House.

His administration has injected close to Sh1.3 trillion on key projects to drive the Big Four.

However, with the economy battered the Covid-19 pandemic and more resources being diverted to deliver the BBI referendum, the President now risks retiring without much to write home about.

Long before Covid hit in March, however, experts were saying there wasn't enough money to properly fund the Big Four.

In a bold report to Parliament in February 2019, the Budget Committee expressed doubt that Treasury’s budgetary allocations to the Big Four  are enough to achieve any meaningful outcome.

The country is burdened by debt, voracious borrowing, a bloated wage bill and corruption that sucks up development money.

During his seventh State of the Nation address in November, President Kenyatta appeared shift description of the Big Four from projects to a framework.

"The Big Four is not a project as many may think. It is a strategy or framework that I have used to organise government delivery."

The President who will vacate office in fewer than 21 months told parliamentarians that economic development is not about intentions but results.

“It is not the volume of what we did, but the impact of what we achieved. Economic development is the measure of tangible positive transformation of the wellbeing and quality of life in our people,” Uhuru told the MPs.

The President said despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, his administration has made great strides in rolling out Universal Health Coverage, one pillar of the Big Four agenda.

Uhuru’s regime has also made achievements in transport, rail and road infrastructure. Major new roads have been built and airport rail transport has been revived. Nairobi rail and bus transit is becoming a reality.

Progress has been made in food security and promoting manufacturing and industrialisation. 

However, the President administration has has been accused of embarking on too many expensive projects that require overborrowing from both local and international lenders.

Compared to former President Mwai Kibaki who rallied Kenyans to pay taxes to finance development, Uhuru has demonstrated such an appetite for loans that the next administration could be hobbled by debt repayment. That could mean much less development.

Governance expert Prof Kaburu Kinoti said that Uhuru’s development agenda became a "lost cause"  when he decided to focus on the BBI, now described as a legacy, along with national unity.

The university don said the President “prioritises nothing except when he is advancing political causes to help himself politically, his friends or family business.

“His record of failures in pulling through programmes that would have done greater public good is testament to a leader who perhaps was not cut out to bring the meaningful change that Kenya deserves in this era,” Kinoti told the Star.

He added, “He would rather ignore the struggles and hopes of the people he leads and concentrate on BBI that secures his future political interests irrespective of the damage to the social and economic interests of this generation and generations to come.”

According to Kinoti, for Uhuru to get back to the development trajectory, he should abandon BBI and 2022 succession politics, saying they have diverted the attention and energy of the country.

“Uhuru's legacy was hinged on the Big Four. The success of the blueprint would have had a lasting impact on the lives of citizens. It would have been easy for him to secure his legacy had he remained focused,” he said.

“Unfortunately there is real danger that both projects are going to fail. The Big Four has failed and there is a high likelihood the BBI project will fail as well. Kenyans will reject BBI after which Uhuru’s political career will end with nothing much to be remember,” he added.

However, Uhuru's track record on the Big Four was described as "so far so good" by David Pkosing, chairman of the Transport, Public Works and Housing committee of the National Assembly.

The Pokot South MP said the Jubilee administration has exceeded the mark in terms of roads, a major enabler of the Big Four.

He said, however, the Uhuru regime should have done better in the housing sector.

“My committee and other committees of Parliament have facilitated what is required for the Big Four Agenda to be rolled out. We must hand it to the Jubilee government in terms of road networks," Pkosing said.

A significant road has been constructed or is being constructed in each of the four counties," he told he Star.

“The housing model ran into problems as the matter remained in the courts for a long time before it was determined.  The government here has done well but could have done better," he said.

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