Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) appears keen to steer the debate on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) even as members of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee party continue wrangling over the national cohesion project.
Key ODM leaders have taken the front row and hit the ground running by lining up a series of fora across the country to deliberate on the BBI proposals, the first of which will be held in Kisii County on Friday.
This will be followed by another meeting at Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium on January 18 convened by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Similar meetings are lined up Central, Coast and Eastern regions to have robust discussions on the report with the people on the ground.
Six governors from Nyanza region, who form part of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) led by Kisii Governor James Ongwae will on Friday congregate in Kisii to take a common stance on the BBI recommendations.
Addressing the media in Nairobi yesterday, Governor Oparanya, who is the ODM deputy leader, said there will be a Western region meeting but was quick to clarify that it will not be a gathering of Luhya community.
Western Region affair
“It is about BBI and the issues affecting the entire western region, which has other tribes apart from Luhyas,” said Oparanya, adding that the Sabaot in Mt Elgon, Tiriki in Vihiga and Teso in Busia County make up the former Western region.
Oparanya, who is the Council of Governors (COG) chairman, said ODM has planned a series of meetings to educate the public on the BBI recommendations.
“We will be going through the first wrap of the BBI and we will take a position and propose changes in the report,” he said.
At the Bukhungu Stadium rally, they will emphasise on the expansion of the executive with the introduction of a powerful Prime Minister post and two deputies.
On January 12, all elected western region leaders will converge in Bungoma County for a consultative meeting that will pave way for the Bukhungu rally.
“All are invited including those that are opposed to the BBI report,” the governor advised.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa yesterday indicated that he has been invited to the Kisii and Bukhungu meetings alongside his Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i.
“Let’s disabuse the notion that these meetings are tribal gathering,” said CS Wamalwa even as he rubbished claims the Bukhungu meeting will be a Luhya affair.
“The meeting at Bukhungu will be on BBI discussions but will not be a Luhya affair nor a Luhya supremacy battle gathering nor is it a meeting to coronate Luhya leaders,” the CS added.
Raila has been lined up to speak at the Kisii meeting where he is expected to drum up support for the document but also to deliberate on the region’s political positioning ahead of 2022.
Ongwae, who will be co-hosting the event with his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama, said the Nyanza and Western regions which have been supporting Raila will also suggest changes to be effected in the second round of engagement.
He added: “It is instructive to note that as a region, we share the same aspirations, trading partners; trading together and have always walked the same path and that is why we are members of one Lake Region Economic Bloc family,” said Ongwae, who doubles as the chairman of the caucus.
He added: “It is on that basis that as elected leaders and in consonance with other stakeholders do hereby commit to champion the conversation on the BBI report going forward.”
The meeting dubbed “the Greater Nyanza consultative meeting” will bring together governors from the region. They include Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Zachary Obado (Migori).
The meeting will also bring together the four senators, 36 MPs and 249 Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs).
Also in attendance will be elders, religious, opinion, women, youth, business leaders, small traders and professionals from the region.
Governor James Ongwae, said over 3,000 delegates from counties of Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Nyamira and Kisii will robustly discuss the report.
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