Contrary to popular belief, the reason behind the delayed release of the BBI report which should have happened by mid this year has little to do with alleged intelligence reports to the government implying that the initiative is quite unpopular and is likely to be rejected by the populace. Instead it has everything to do with the recent County Allocation of Revenue Bill in the Senate.

The Senate Bill which proved quite contentious was a pilot program of sorts for the BBI report. It was supposed to gauge the mood of the country, and voting patterns, in case a hypothesis that favors the big tribes and ignores the smaller ones was proposed.

While the BBI is mainly focused on expanding the leadership structure and operations, its creators know that simply presenting it this way would be playing into the hands of Ruto who has repeatedly said that any plebiscite should be focused on the ordinary mwananchi, and not power sharing for the leaders. Its backers have been keen on clothing the report in the “One man, one vote, one shilling” fabric, to appeal to the major tribes.

However, the BBI proponents are now realising one important factor that they did not consider. Kenyan voters do not base decisions on reason, but on persuasions of their tribal chiefs. Their calculations were that, since the big tribes are the biggest beneficiaries, then their support is guaranteed. Instead, a replay of the 2010 referendum seems likely. While Kalenjins were the biggest beneficiaries of the new constitution, they opposed it because Ruto said so.

In addition to the unforeseen risk of Kalenjin opposition to the proposal, other tribes might side with their marginalized brothers and isolate the Kikuyu-Luo axis. While this is considered unlikely by the BBI camp since the belief among them is that the senators from big tribes who did this were enticed by financial reward, and that in a referendum the ordinary mwananchi will not vote to reject a proposal which increases his allocation, it is a likely risk as seen in the recent Senate developments, and this has the BBI proponents uneasy.

Raila also had to change gears after realising that the areas which stood to be disenfranchised are his support bases.

All these factors have forced the BBI proponents to rush back to the drawing board.

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