AfricaPress-Kenya: ODM leader Raila Odinga on Friday received 5.2 million signatures collected countrywide to endorse the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) as the week-long exercise came to a close.
Speaking at Daraja House in Nairobi, Raila said they will give the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) collected signatures for verification.
Raila urged IEBC to move with speed and verify the signatures to save time and pave way for a referendum.
“Let IEBC move fast and release the process to the next stage which is county assemblies, then to Parliament before it goes to the people to have a final say.”
Raila said President Uhuru Kenyatta could not attend the event because he was to attend another government function.
“We talked with the President and we agreed that he goes for another function with the governors as I come here,” said Raila.
The ODM leader said the fact that over 5 million people appended their signatures within a week is an indication that the report is popular among Kenyans.
He hailed Kenyans for walking with President Uhuru and himself on the journey to improve governance by supporting the bill.
“I know Kenyans are not slow learners when it comes to changing the way they are governed and they have spoken,” he said.
The former Prime Minister hit out at the critics of BBI saying they are the same people who opposed the 2010 Constitution and are now known for opposing.
“They opposed it when there was a time for them to give their views only to come now and say they want consensus.”
Raila said pushing the referendum to 2022 will be too much asking for the voters who are already making six choices during elections.
“The election itself has many seats and IEBC is proposing it should be staggered so adding another referendum question will be too much for the voter,” he said.
Raila’s tuff Nyanza region led in the exercise with 893,792 signatures followed by Eastern region with 842,000 with Rift Valley coming third with 817,000 signatures despite opposition from politicians led by Deputy President William Ruto.
Central Kenya collected 793, 135 signatures, Coast 745, 033, Nairobi managed 506, 048 signatures Western 487, 978 with North-Eastern region collection 161, 000
BBI secretariat co-chair and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed told Deputy President William Ruto to stop confusing Kenyans with his calls for a multiple-choice referendum saying it was impossible
He said according to the referendum bill before the National Assembly’s legal committee there is no bill for multiple choices in the referendum, but a bill to be voted on.
“The referendum bill we know is the one before the House legal committee not what other people are talking about,”
BBI secretariat Co-chair Dennis Waweru thank Mt Kenya region for backing the initiative, saying they made a statement that they support President Uhuru.
“Mathira was leading with signatures collected in Nyeri despite claims that they don’t support BBI,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo hailed the initiative saying it followed a legal process, unlike other claims.
“There are some leaders confusing the public on popular and parliamentary initiative not knowing that the former starts with the people and ends with the people,” he said
He said the initiative was above board after collecting over 5 million signatures when the law only requires 1 million signatures.
He slammed leaders discrediting the initiative, adding that most of them appeared before the task force and gave their views.
Orengo dismissed a multiple-choice referendum saying Kenyans will vote for or against at the bill, not the choices.
Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya dismissed claims that Mt Kenya region was backing DP Ruto saying the signatures collected from the region are a clear indication that the region is behind Uhuru and Raila.