Opposition Chief Raila Odinga’s Orange Party wants the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 be dispensed with immediately by Parliament.
Through the party’s Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi, the party said that time is increasingly becoming critical in the collective drive to implement the necessary constitutional, legal and administrative reforms within the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) framework.
“Parliament, among other institutions, must move with speed and play its part by dispensing with the BBI bill 2020. We cannot anymore, as a country, afford to lose any single day in this crucial journey through procrastination,” said Wandayi.
Wandayi is now calling on National Assembly and Senate Majority and Minority leaders to convene Special sittings of the two Houses to dispense the BBI matter.
“I want to persuade the Leaders of Majority and Minority Parties in the National Assembly and Senate to petition the respective Speakers to convene special sittings of the two Houses not later than Thursday 8th April 2021 to deal with this Bill. Anything short of this would be an abdication of duty by the House leadership. The Houses can, and should, debate the Bill and vote on it on a single afternoon,” said Wandayi.
According to Wandayi, the move will be irrespective of the outcome of the never-ending deliberations of the joint Committee on Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
“The Houses do not need to wait for a report from the Committee. If the Committee is unable to generate one, it can as well just table the materials it has received from the public during its public hearings in the form of memoranda, petitions, reports and representations, among others for consideration by the House.”
Wandayi also argued that the roadmap for the amendment of the Constitution as set out under Article 257 is so clear and unambiguous that it requires no belabouring.
“The two major remaining steps are a vote on the Bill in Parliament and the people’s verdict at the referendum. Anything else is just but splitting of hairs. This critical constitutional process should not be held captive by elements that are preoccupied with unhelpful power plays and succession games within their respective political parties and ethnic nations,” he said.
He cited that not everything that everyone had wanted to be captured in the proposed constitutional amendments saw the light of the day.
But we take consolation in the fact that, historically, the social, political and economic gains that this country has realized have always been incremental.
“The task we have at hand is to pass the BBI Bill as it is in Parliament and at the referendum. The rest we can deal with later. From my own analysis, the benefits in the BBI Bill far much outweigh the costs, real or perceived,” said Wandayi.
The Ugunja lawmaker, further added that his party boss Raila Odinga, has consistently pronounced himself on the BBI and the Handshake.
“In ODM, we have only one Leader; Raila. He is the one who gives us direction that we follow. The rest of us can only express personal opinions. But such personal opinions must be carefully managed in order not to create confusion.”
Wandayi who also chairs the powerful National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) charged that COVID-19 pandemic here to stay, adding that Kenyans must learn to live with it.