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Kenyans must now take control of Building Bridges Initiative process

By Alberto Leny
Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta (second left), with his deputy William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and BBI taskforce chairman Yusuf Haji during the launch of the BBI report at Nairobi’s Bomas of Kenya. Photo/PD/FILE

The more things change, the more they remain the same on the Kenyan political landscape, if the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) debacle is anything to go by. 

Just when Kenyans thought they were finally on the path to national cohesion thanks to the initiative, it is now apparent we could have been chasing a red herring, thanks to the usual suspects—the political class.

The BBI report’s initiators pledged to get Kenyans’ feedback on the report. But politicians, with their insatiable appetite for ignominy and disregard for the people’s rights and interests, have hijacked the process and turned it into a game of political contestations.

The very ills the Uhuru-Raila handshake and BBI sought to cure now dog the process. 

That is why experts are of the view that politicians should keep off this stage of the initiative that requires intensive civic education. 

Indeed, Adrian Brown, from the Centre for Public Impact, recently aptly captured the trouble afflicting governance in Kenya: “Our models of government are broken and in urgent need of reform.

They are based on a flawed “industrial” mindset that seeks to manage and control. As such, they don’t recognise the true nature of the challenges we face, fail to tap our collective human potential to address those challenges and offer static solutions to dynamic problems.”

Most governments around the world, Kenya included, are facing deficits in both effectiveness and legitimacy. People feel increasingly disillusioned.

That is why Kenyans must now resolutely take back what rightly belongs to them and stop the politicians from denying them a priceless opportunity to redeem what could end up a lost cause.

The political agenda does not override the economic and social rights of a people long overburdened by the yoke of subjugation, intolerance, deception, marginalisation, inequity and human rights violations perpetrated by conniving elites.

On its part, the  media must champion what the UN calls “a human rights and social justice-based, people-oriented commitment to a comprehensive, integrated and universal transformation” devoid of shenanigans.

Two critical areas demand political leadership priority—food security and youth unemployment—yet our leaders seem preoccupied with 2022 succession politics. 

Achieving the sustainable development, peace, cohesion and socio-economic liberation cannot happen without having sustainable and resilient, climate compatible agriculture and food systems that deliver for people and planet through pro-active strategies.

Next Tuesday, International Food Policy Research Institute will launch a book titled Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa: Beyond Stylised Facts that underlines the critical role of the youth in the agricultural transformation that is essential for Africa’s economic development.

The book authors note that the share of working-age youth in Africa has risen phenomenally, creating a sense of urgency among governments and the international development community.

The prospect of widespread unemployment and the ensuing social instability and political unrest it could bring looms.

However, they point out that although the scale of policy reforms and actions needed to address the “youth bulge” is daunting, opportunities exist to enact policies that effectively address rural youth unemployment.

Kenyans are fed up with political rhetoric and as the BBI team embarks on the second phase of their work, they should relegate politics to the back burner and chart a more democratic, inclusive and prospective destiny for the people of Kenya. [email protected]

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