BBI referendum will flop if held today – poll

The survey which ended last Monday revealed that the BBI has more support among members of ODM compared with Jubilee and UDA.

By: Kamande Muchiri   @MountKenyaTimes

Constitutional Amendment Bill (BBI) 2021 popularly known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) bill is unpopular among the majority of Kenyans, a poll has shown.

This is according to the findings of a Trends and Insights For Africa (TIFA) poll released yesterday.

TIFA said only 19 percent of Kenyans would support the Constitutional Amendment Bill (BBI) 2021 if it were put to a vote.

31 percent would vote against it, 18 percent would not vote at all, 25 percent are undecided, and 7 percent hold no opinion.

The survey which ended last Monday revealed that the BBI has more support among members of ODM compared with Jubilee and UDA.

Specifically, 59% of ODM supporters would vote “Yes” for the BBI while 13% would vote “No” and 12% are undecided.

25% of Jubilee supporters said they would vote “YES” while 31% said they would vote “NO” and 11% are undecided.

9% of UDA supporters on the other hand expressed support for the BBI while 57% said they would vote “NO” and 6% are undecided.

According to the survey, the highest level of support for the BBI reform proposals is in Nyanza with 28% saying they would vote Yes, followed by Coast where 23% would vote yes.

On perceived motivations for the BBI, 43% said the initiative is an attempt by certain politicians to influence the 2022 presidential election.

29 % believe President Uhuru Kenyatta’s main motivation in supporting BBI is to influence/control the election for the next President.

14% believe the Head of State is encouraging and strengthening national unity, while 4% believe it is part of his legacy before he retires.

50 % believe ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga’s main motivation is to increase his chances of being the next President.

25 % believe it is an attempt by both politicians and citizens to solve the country’s problems.

15% believe it is a citizen-led effort to make the Constitution more effective in addressing their own issues.

A majority of those supporting BBI cited the increased budgetary allocation to counties and the creation of the Ward Development Fund as the main reasons they would support it.

This even as 10% of those who would vote “NO” singled out the increased budgetary allocation to counties and use of government resources to promote BBI as the reasons they wouldn’t support BBI.

Another 8% are opposed to the creation of a Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Minister positions, while 3% believe he is intent on correcting errors in the 2010 constitution.

TIFA’s most recent poll, conducted in December 2020, had shown that 29 percent of those polled would vote for the BBI.

The scales have tipped since then, and the fate of the Bill is now in the hands of the appellate court.

Court of Appeal President Daniel Musinga alongside Justice Patrick Kiage, Roselyn Nambuye, Hannah Okwengu, Gatembu Kairu, Fatuma Sichale and Francis Tuiyott will decide on the fate of BBI after concluding hearing of appeal cases today.

Proponents betting the Court of Appeal to overturn High Court ruling

Pro-BBI leaders, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, are betting the Court of Appeal to intervene and halt the implementation of the High Court decision that stopped the push to amend the Constitution.

The High Court had found that the President acted in excess of his powers and contravened the Constitution, in particular Chapter Six, when he initiated and promoted a constitutional change. A section of lawyers have warned that this finding could be used as grounds to impeach him.

The five-judge bench, in a judgement that was read virtually for more than four hours, said the 14-member BBI taskforce and the steering committee led by former Garissa Senator, the late Yusuf Haji, was an illegal entity.

The bench led by Justice Joel Ngugi said the President made a fatal legal mistake in attempting to change the Constitution through a popular initiative, an avenue that is not available to him. He should have used parliamentary initiative by petitioning the National Assembly through the Attorney-General to consider the desired amendments, the court ruled.

They described the BBI process as “a presidential initiative guised as a popular initiative”, and allowing it to be sustained amounts to having the Head of State as promoter and referee of his own initiative.

“President cannot be an initiator of and an umpire in amendment of the Constitution,” said the court, adding that the BBI was muddled by conflict of interest.

Now, BBI supporters will be looking to the Appellate Court to salvage the plan birthed by the “Handshake” so that the effort and resources expended so far does not go to waste.

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