APRIL 26, 2021.
OUR STAND ON BBI BILL:
STATEMENT BY MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM THE LUO COMMUNITY:
Ladies and gentlemen of the media.
In the mid morning of March 2018, this country witnessed two sworn political antagonists H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt Hon Raila Odinga, shake hands on the steps of Harambee House.
Neither the official nor the self-declared president’s and Raila’s men and women were privy to the fact that in the middle of the tension that had gripped the country and the bad blood between the two, these leaders who had split Kenya down the middle had been talking on how to heal the nation.
The handshake came with the Building Bridges Initiative, which is a thorough look at the issues at the heart of our political, social and economic problems as a nation and how to address them.
But the handshake and the two leaders behind it encountered mixed fortunes. They encountered excitement from those who saw an opportunity for the country to move forward again.
There was also resistance from those who felt that the handshake and the BBI were tools for denying them ascendancy to the presidency and access to easy wealth through corruption.
That opposition and desire to throw the handshake into disarray and kill the BBI exist to this day.
The latest effort to derail the handshake and the BBI is the contest over the contents of the Constitution of Kenya Aamendment Bill as proposed by the BBI.
The Bill has been endorsed by an overwhelming majority of country assemblies after being embraced by millions of the people of Kenya.
It is in this context that we have convened here as elected leaders of the Luo community to express singular and undivided support for the BBI Bill as endorsed by the people of Kenya and the majority of county assemblies.
We reject any attempt to alter that Bill whether the alteration is for grammar, flow of sentences, wording of law or semantics.
As MPs, we recognize and accept the limited role given to us by the people on this Bill. We submit to the people of Kenya that ours is to accept the Bill in its entirety or reject it in its entirety.
Ladies and gentlemen,
No community has suffered the ravages of election violence like the Luo from 1992 to 2017. There are our people who were displaced from many parts of the country never to return in 2007-2008 violence. Hundreds were killed. Many businesses were looted never to recover.
In the interest of the future safety, security and stability of our people wherever they are at election time, we support every effort to make election violence a thing of the past in Kenya. We therefore support the BBI Bill Bill in its entirety to the extent that it seeks to bury the ghosts of election violence.
No community has suffered the pain of marginalization in the economic and political sphere like the Luo. It dates back to the years before independence. The colonial authorities took offense that the Luo joined the liberation struggle and even supported the Mau Mau and Jomo Kenyatta. They punished our people for it. The marginalization continued even after independence right from the1960s.
We support every small effort to end marginalization of regions and communities and create shared prosperity. We are convinced that if our leaders create an environment where opportunities are shared equally and equitably, our people will thrive alongside other Kenyans. We therefore support BBI Bill in its entirety in it’s bid to create shared prosperity in a united country.
We are a very industrious, outgoing and adventurous community. We are a community permanently and bravely on the move. We are everywhere across Kenya and the world seeking opportunities and providing services to fellow Kenyans and fellow human beings. We are mechanics, doctors, nurses, teachers, fishermen, masons and even politicians in virtually all parts of this country. It is in the interest of our people that we build a nation where any Kenyan can live, own property, do business, practice politics, offer professional services and raise a family anywhere in this diverse and beautiful land.
Because this is a key aspiration of the BBI, we support the BBI Bill in its entirety. We want to see the Kikuyu, the Kamba, the Luhya, the Giriama and all other communities live and do business in Kisumu and other parts of Nyanza while our people also do the same in other areas. The BBI is setting our people and all Kenyans free to explore their potential. We support the BBI Bill.
Over the years, Nyanza has stagnated due to corruption and deliberate marginalization. Corruption killed industries that used to employ our people. Corruption killed infrastructure in the region. Corruption ensured the fishing industry stagnated, then deteriorated. Corruption killed agriculture in Nyanza. Corruption killed the education sector Nyanza. We support the BBI in its efforts to ensure corruption is punished in the most painful way possible because we are convinced that ending corruption is a vital step towards reviving opportunities for our people.
Our youth are desperate. They have gone to school but can’t find jobs because of the lack of opportunities in the region and discrimination on the basis of tribe. We support BBI in it’s attempts to end tribalism and ethnic antagonism in this country. Without tribalism and nepotism in this country, our young people will compete. We support the BBI Bill in its effort to create opportunities for the youth, strengthen youth funding institutions, give their businesses tax breaks and give them grace period for paying loans owed to the government.
We support the BBI in its effort to increase financial allocation to counties and, for the first time, give money to the wards.
We therefore support, without any reservations, the decision by Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta to work together, heal the nation and push Kenya forward. Wherever they lead us, we shall go.
The unity between Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta has calmed and stabilized the nation. Business can go on in Nairobi city and elsewhere including Nyanza. Traders can ferry and sell their goods anywhere in Kenya. That is the Kenya we want. So, we want to encourage Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta to soldier on and ignore the naysayers. We stand with you and history will be kind to you.
We have full confidence in Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta to take care of our interests in the run up to 2022 and beyond. It is a complex and extremely delicate political, social and economic situation. It is a situation that, for our community, only Raila Odinga can navigate.
In that respect, we are pursuing engagement instead of disengagement. We are pursuing consensus rather than confrontation. We are focused on less talk and more positive action.
And so today, we are here to let our people know that we are solidly behind the handshake and the BBI.
We are behind the architects, president Uhuru Kenyatta and his brother Rt Hon Raila Odinga.
The two leaders set us on a journey of faith in a bid to bring an end to our past of mistrust, division and discrimination and theft of pubic resources.
We stand in total support of that vision and mission.
We urge all Luo leaders, all our people in our four counties of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori to ignore negative forces, ignore those who want to do things the same old way, and embrace BBI and support President Uhuru Kenyatta and his brother Rt Hon Raila Amolo Odinga. Any other route will take us to the very same destinations we have been to before.
Thank you and God bless Kenya.