REMARKS OF H.E RAILA ODINGA, EGH, ODM PARTY LEADER AT THE JOINT ODM PG/NEC ON THE BBI REPORT; DECEMBER 17, 2019:
Members of Parliament; Governors, MCAs and members of the National Executive Committee.
We are coming to the end of an eventful and successful year for our party and the country.
I therefore want to begin by thanking all of you for the continued commitment to the party and to the country, which enabled us to register some of the gains we have made this year.
With your support and that of members of other parties who believe in the unity and stability of our nation, we successfully defended a seat we had to win, in Kibra.
Along with our partners in the pursuit of a better country, we successfully shepherded and saw the delivery of the report of the Building Bridges Initiative whose core task is to build on the gains of the dying decade and take us to new heights as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century.
Our main task here today is to put our leadership on the same page on the BBI and have you relay the same to our supporters across the country as we return to the people for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
From the outset, I wish to reiterate my firm belief that the BBI is good for our country. It is our second chance to do a makeover. I thank the international community; including the African Union, the US Government, the EU and the UK for the support they have given to the Initiative and for sharing our belief that it is a chance for a New Beginning for Kenya.
I wish to assure everyone that we mean well for our country and for the community of nations that value peace and stability across the globe. I hope we will continue walking and working together on these goals.
Kenya is on the threshold of a new beginning to realize the goals that have eluded us over the years. Some of these goals were captured in the Constitution we unveiled in 2010. We have had time now to see what is working, what needs to be tweaked and what needs to be overhauled. That is the journey we embarked on with the BBI and it is set to continue into next year.
We have not pursued the BBI dream at the expense of the dreams of our party. Our goals as a party and as a country are consistent with those of the BBI.
We recognise that parties and leaders exist to pursue the good of the nation.
Nations begin to die when parties and leaders begin to imagine that they are greater than the nation and that their personal and partisan ambitions should override the national goals.
No party or leader can be greater than the nation. Our nations do not owe us anything. Instead, we owe a debt to our nations.
As a party, it is in our DNA to take a stand on critical issues of the day. ODM never stands or sits on the fence. We never sway with the wind from this side to that when the interests of the nation are at stake.
That is what we have done with the Handshake and the BBI. We have taken a stand based on very clear understanding of what is to be achieved.
We have been able to merge our interests as a party with the broader interests of the nation and supported the BBI.
We are in this to redesign the architecture of our nation.
We are in this to figure out what makes us a nation and distinguishes us from other nations.
The BBI gives us a chance to come up with a Kenyan economic model to secure full employment for citizens especially the youth, protect Human Rights to counter systemic violations; end marginalization of regions and communities by taking more resources to the grassroots while holding leaders accountable for those resources and increasing cohesion in Kenya.
Nobody should have a quarrel with these goals. And these goals surely cannot pose a threat to anybody’s political ambitions.
The initial BBI report that we unveiled over two weeks ago has Kenyans asking that we have to mend our ways or we sink as a country.
Kenyans expressed concern that even as we seek to live together as one people, we lack common ideals and aspirations and the national bonds we have are based on ethnicity and locality. We cannot create a nation until we identify goals that we pursue together and work towards a future that demands our collective sacrifice.
Kenyans spoke clearly that our political and economic systems have failed, that we are running out of time and we have to change direction if we are to avoid a catastrophic future.
The youth in particular spoke strongly that they feel excluded in the affairs of our nation and Kenya seems to have no place for them.
The report tells us that there is deep mistrust for leaders, institutions, and systems. The country is suffering from a trust deficit and there is disrespect for the law at all levels. This disrespect is particularly evident with public officers.
Now these are fundamental misgivings being expressed by our citizens and they are not the only ones. We cannot wish away these concerns.
The BBI enabled Kenyans to voice these concerns that clearly threaten our nation. The same BBI gives us a chance to address these concerns.
From here one, what we should be debating is what to adopt, what to amend and what to discard out of the BBI proposals.
From here therefore, we will task ourselves to sensitise our people about the journey so far, the report itself and the likely scenarios in the days and months ahead.
We will need to be honest with our people and ourselves and stop misleading Kenyans about the contents and intentions of the report.
It is my appeal to all Kenyans to prepare to engage the BBI team that will be going around the country explaining the document with a view to having all shades of opinion captured. It will provide a chance to perfect further what we have.
We should treat this as a chance for the nation to talk to itself about its future. It is not and must not be a shouting or a mudslinging match.
Let us do something with the second chance the BBI has accorded us and not waste it in the pursuit of politics as usual.
Let’s take this Second Chance as an opportunity to throw off a legacy of corruption; tribalism, divisions, dysfunctional institutions and mistrust that have held us back for over 50 years.
It is my hope that as we retreat to our villages for the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we will get more sober, more honest and more concerned about the country and seek to mend our ways and birth a new nation.
I wish you and all Kenyans fruitful and sober deliberations, a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2020.