Jubilee leaders have said they would not support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that would create executive positions and extra layers of governance.
They said Kenyans were already burdened and any expansion of political seats would defeat the country’s development plans.
Speaking in Lari, Kiambu County, during a funeral service on Wednesday, the leaders in the company of Deputy President William Ruto said they were for a BBI that is for the empowerment of the people.
“The resolutions we made over the weekend in Naivasha is our position; we want to rid this country of poverty, empower Kenyans economically and generate jobs for our youths,” said Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.
He said with a guaranteed minimum return for farmers’ prouduce, Kenyans would rally behind the Initiative.
“If it would be about the creation of more seats for politicians and Governors whose two terms are coming to an end, we would oppose it,” noted the Mathira MP.
Other leaders present were Governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, and MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati).
Mr Kositany said the country was in support of BBI but warned that there were plans to create another version.
“One BBI faction is led by ODM and is for the creation and expansion of executive seats. The other one is Jubilee and is for poverty alleviation, wealth creation and jobs generation for the youths,” explained the Soy lawmaker.
Therefore, he told Kenyans, they have a choice to make on which path to follow to make their lives better.
Mr Kuria asked Kenyans not to forget where the country had come from in terms of political hostility, disintegration and division along tribal lines.
“We are all after forging unity in this country through the BBI. This is a journey we started in 2008; we have more solid experience than those lecturing us,” noted Mr Kuria.
On his part, Mr Ichungwa said the country needed to be together for it to move forward.
“But BBI should not be used to intimidate other leaders. It is a fact we (Mt Kenya leaders) are being threatened but we would not be cowed. We will stand for the truth,” he observed.
While arguing that they would back BBI, Mr Ichungwa added that “we should not support it while others have hidden cards under the table”.
The legislator said they would continue pushing for people-centred issues in the Initiative.
“BBI should not be for tenure extension and the creation of regional governments,” he said.
Mr Ngunjiri said it was regrettable that some leaders had opted to forget where Kenya had come from.
He added that BBI should not be guided by conditions that would have no value to the Initiative.
“We would be in Nakuru for BBI on February 8 even with the barriers that Governor Lee Kinyanjui has erected,” said Mr Ngunjiri.
Former CS Mr Kiunjuri asked Kenyans to support BBI but said that if there must be a Prime Minister’s post, then the holder should be appointed by President.
“We cannot have two centres of power. If that happens, it is Kenyans who would suffer,” he said.
Mr Kiunjuri said the country needed to build bridges and bring all Kenyans together.
“We cannot build one bridge and destroy the other one which we need to cross to the other end. It does not make any sense. We should not take Kenya back to the old dark days. That is what we are witnessing today,” he added.
It is a sentiment that was echoed by Governor Kimemia who noted that leaders needed to bring down the political temperatures.
“Let is bring our people together and focus on empowering them. As the chairman of the Central Kenya region Governors bloc, we are for a BBI that would enrich Kenyans.”
His Uasin Gishu counterpart said Governors were not for the creation of regional governments.
“What we need in BBI is honesty. It should not be used push individual’s political interests,” said Mr Mandago adding that Kenyans should be allowed to meet freely and deliberate on BBI.
The Deputy President said all Kenyans would be involved and the Government would ensure that the BBI debate does not impede “our development programmes”.
He said the country should not lose sight that the primary focus of BBI is the empowerment of Kenyans.
“We want to see our coffee, tea, milk, maize farmers comfortable.”