The decision by the Court of Appeal to dismiss the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) bill has thrown plans of top political figures in the country into disarray and sent their strategists back to the throwing board.
The much-hyped proposed bill intended to, among other things, expand to the executive to accommodate more leaders at the top in what promoters argued would enhance inclusivity.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, who initiated the process through their handshake pact of March 9, 2018, argued the BBI idea was the only antidote to all the ills affecting the country.
Top political leaders, among them, presidential aspirants Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula, Gideon Moi (KANU), and a number of second-time governors rallied behind the bill, citing inclusivity as one of the reasons why the draft was worth their backing.
The BBI bill proposed the creation of the office of Prime Minister with two deputies and the Office of the Opposition leader to accommodate those who lose elections. This, according to promoters, would have ended the perennial protests witnessed every electioneering year.
It got the support of key political players who hoped they would be considered for the new positions envisioned in the bill.
But in yet another scathing verdict delivered by a seven-judge bench on Friday, the appellate court threw out the petition in a record 10-hour overwhelming judgment, spoiling the party for the big boys.
With only 12 months to the 2022 General Election, the BBI would be a critical instrument in the formation of coalitions, particularly among its backers.
Here are some of the biggest losers.
The former prime minister will be making a fifth stab at the presidency in 2022, having previously contested for the same seat in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017.
His partners in the earth-shaking NASA coalition of 2017 – Kalonzo, Mudavadi, and Wetang’ula – have parted ways with him and formed the One Kenya Alliance alongside Gideon Moi.
Raila hoped he would dangle the new positions proposed in the BBI bill to court them to back and support his bid again.
Further, Raila was using BBI to present himself as Uhuru’s friend and partner in the quest to unite the country, thus penetrate the vote-rich Mt Kenya without hurdles.
The Court of Appeal deflated these political maneuvers on Friday, forcing him to swallow the bitter pill.
“It is likely that today’s Court of Appeal ruling is not the end of the conversation and the parties involved will each make their own decisions on how to proceed from the decision that has been delivered today. But we feel that we have to move on,” he tweeted shortly before the final verdict was delivered.
For the last three months, the One Kenya Alliance leaders have been taking Kenyans on a ruse over the choice of a preferred presidential candidate for the coalition.
Mudavadi and Kalonzo were expected to take the top two positions while Wetangu’la and Gideon would have filled the two deputy prime minister slots. The coalition was reportedly courting Raila to join them as a Prime Minister.
The other opposition was joining Raila’s camp and taking the deputy president, prime minister, deputy PM, and the two Speakers’ slots (National Assembly and the Senate). However, the appellate court threw these plans into disarray with a stroke of a pen.
“ANC abides by the court of appeal ruling and unanimously as a united people focus for we cannot leave a dream forever, we have to wake up from the dream and move on,’’ Mudavadi said after the judgment.
A host of second-time governors were banking on the adoption of the BBI to climb up the political ladder.
Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho have been aggressive in their quest to rise to national politics.
Their move to challenge Raila for the ODM presidential ticket was seen as a strategic plot to book a soft landing in his 2022 government – if the journey to Canaan was not to be interrupted by crocodiles as it happened in 2017.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi was Iria has also been positioning himself for a top political seat at the national level. Although he has announced his presidential bid, political observers argue the governor was targeting something below the presidency but above his current position.
Other governors with similar ambitions include Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni).
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, although serving her first term, has been making strides towards the center of power, with reports linking her to being a potential running mate to the handshake presidential candidate, or at least scooping one of the deputy PM’s seats.
Uhuru and Raila close allies
Uhuru’s loyalists such as Maina Kamanda, David Murathe, Racheal Shabesh, Raphael Tuju, Kanini Kega, Ngunjiri Wambugu, Peter Kenneth, and Dennis Waweru are also leaking wounds following the heartbreaking verdict.
Similarly, a host of Raila’s key allies who supported BBI with passion and conviction have been orphans of the proposed bill. They include Junet Mohamed, John Mbadi, James Orengo, Gladys Wanga, and Edwin Sufuna.
Although the deputy president has relished the judgment and thanked God for the victory, the success of BBI would have enabled him to craft a formidable coalition to take on Raila and his other basketful of political nemeses, who are now likely to gang up against him.
Political analyst Professor Makau Mutua argued Ruto, who has been opposing BBI from the start, lost by winning.
The biggest loser in the BBI judgment isn’t Raila Odinga. It’s William Ruto who hoped to reap where he pretended not to have sowed. He lost because unlike 2010 when he opposed the Constitution — and became its biggest beneficiary — this time he opposed BBI and lost by winning. DP Ruto would’ve been unstoppable if BBI was upheld,” he said via his Twitter handle.