Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the BBI report.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the BBI report.
Image: DPPS

By Reporter

Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have devised a scheme to hijack the Building Bridges Initiative rallies and take charge of the debate.

They have decided to attend and address BBI rallies which they have opposed previously.  

The decision to join the Raila Odinga-led BBI rallies is aimed at ensuring that they are part of the process and control its narrative.

“After consultation as leaders, we have decided [that] in order to pursue the original spirit of the BBI irrespective of our concerns against the use of public resources in a process that has been blessed with full nationwide consensus, we will participate and where necessary take charge of these public rallies,” Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen announced.

The decision was informed by the weekend events in Kakamega where ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetangula joined Raila and declared support for BBI.

 The move seemed to create the impression that Ruto and his allies had been isolated as they complained that Raila was creating a new coalition ahead of 2022.

But speaking at his Harambee House Annex office when he met Anglican bishops, Ruto said all Kenyans should be allowed to participate and give their views to enrich the document.

“There is a temptation to think that a different or contrary view is opposition. I believe accommodating alternative views allows an all-inclusive process that enriches the document,” Ruto said.

He added, “We should create space for all to prosecute their viewpoints. No viewpoint is inferior.”

The DP noted he would resist any attempt to create political camps or “us versus them” in the process.

Initially, Ruto and his team toyed with the idea of staging parallel rallies, but the but shelved it over fears it will isolate the DP. 

The Building Bridges crusade is being spearheaded by allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Tuesday,  Murkomen led 30 other pro-Ruto MPs in a surprise announcement that they will join the meetings, starting with Mombasa this Saturday.

He also announced that other meetings, other than the currently planned pro-BBI rallies are in the offing.

“Other than the schedule so far published, our constituents desire us to organise more meetings in other parts of the country to facilitate deeper engagement and wider participation,” Murkomen said.

Ruto has been watching from the periphery as powerful forces around Uhuru and Raila launch aggressive BBI rallies that analysts suggest could undermine and at worst destroy his 2022 presidential ambitions.

“Going by the Kisii and especially Kakamega rallies, if they don’t do anything this BBI thing is like a bush fire and it will burn anything on its way. Anybody opposed to it will be finished,” political analyst Herman Manyora said, according to the Star. 

However, university don Edward Kisiangani said Ruto is not cornered and his latest move is out of respect for President Kenyatta.

BBI proposals
BBI proposals

Pro-Uhuru and Raila allies have staged two major rallies in Kakamega and Kisii that have taken the country by storm. 

Ruto and his men had termed the rallies a waste of government resources and said they should be banned for stoking tensions.

Major political players appear to be united against Ruto amid signals the BBI campaigns may replicate the 2005 referendum push that nearly sent retired President Mwai Kibaki home in 2007.

Pushed to act, the BBI task force sent a statement yesterday evening saying they will send a team of trained technical experts to all forums that the committee agrees to attend.

The statement by joint secretaries Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi said this would be in Coast and in Kitui on February 1.

“The Steering Committee would like to clarify its openness to engage all Kenyans, no matter their cultural, religious, occupational or political orientation.”

“Even as we participate in a vigorous national conversation, the Steering Committee urges all Kenyans to be conscious of the need to build bridges of unity to one another,” the duo stated.

“It further urges Kenyans to continue engaging holistically with the entirety of the challenges and solutions outlined in the task force report.” 

Tuesday, fears emerged that the rallies could be marred by chaos because of mistrust among the political elite and push by the pro-Ruto wing to take charge of some rallies.

During the launch of the BBI report late last year, Kieleweke and Tangatanga wars played out in the presence of the President with Murkomen being widely booed.

After Mombasa, the BBI train will be heading to Embu, Garissa, Eldoret, Suswa and Kiambu before a final one in Nairobi on February 26.

In his announcement Tuesday, Murkomen said by participating in the rallies, they will re-direct the conversation to people-centric issues such as the economy, unemployment, social justice, rule of law and human rights.

“At the moment, the discussion is centred on the pursuit of political power and position by leaders,” he claimed.  

The team, however, had a long list of conditions they want to be addressed.

These include claims of the existence of a BBI steering committee complete with an underground report which they claimed will be bulldozed as improvement of the current BBI report.

The leaders are also concerned with the use of public resources to organize the meetings unless it is sanctioned by Parliament or county assemblies.

Murkomen said the pro-Ruto MPs will foot their own bills, while accusing the Raila wing of using state resources.

“We will not accept tickets, allowances that will be given as it happened in Kisii and Kamega where leaders were given Sh100,000 each while attendees were given Sh 1000,” he said.


National Assembly minority leader John Mbadi read mischief in Ruto allies’ sudden change of heart insisting they are not coming back in good faith.

He, however, noted that they are welcome to be part of the regional meetings but warned them against coming with conditions.

“It is they who decided to jump out and start attacking BBI process. If they have now realised that they are being isolated and they want to join us they are welcome because that is what the two leaders have always wanted — unity and working together,” Mbadi said.

“We are watchful because we know they don’t mean well. If they didn’t show us their negative part and their opposition to BBI, we wouldn’t have known. Now that we are already very aware that they don’t like the report at all, we have to be very careful. 

“However they should stop giving condition. A prodigal son never gives condition, he comes back quietly. They should not bring sideshows on who has spoken and who has not,” Mbadi said on the phone.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said it was clear the Tangatanga, as Ruto’s troops are popularly known, are throwing in the towel.

“We want to thank Tangatanga MPs for agreeing to join BBI forums. They even look excited about it. I look forward to them joining us in Mombasa on Saturday,” Wambugu said.

“I especially want to hear them explain to us what had stopped them from joining us in this journey before and what has changed now,” the Ruto critic said.

ACK Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit said BBI was a good “attempt to create a positive vision for Kenya”.

He called on Kenyans not to allow political “expediency” in the process.

“If it becomes a political rallies’ document we lose it. We should have a people-centred approach,” he said.

He further cautioned that BBI should not be a political mobilisation tool. 

“We can begin to see a deviation from the original course. The church just wanted to see the prosperity of the country and wasn’t taking sides on the matter.”

He wondered how views of the people were being collected in political rallies.