Deputy President William Ruto wants the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum be held together with the 2022 general elections.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ruto and his allies argued that holding the plebiscite in 2022 will pave the way for consensus-building in addition to saving public funds.
The leaders questioned why the country should spend billions on a referendum with only a year remaining to the 2022 general election.
Ruto, who spoke after a consultative meeting with 146 MPs and seven governors at his Karen residence, insisted the funds set aside for referendum should be redirected towards cushioning Kenyans against the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We must consider the circumstance which we find ourselves in as a country. We’re in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has ravaged our country killing close to 1,500 Kenyans including our frontline health workers, infecting nearly 100,000 Kenyans, straining the public health sector, and instigating an economic meltdown.”
“It is legitimate to question the wisdom of spending Sh14 billion a year before an election that will cost us another Sh42 billion going by 2017 figures of IEBC when a referendum could be conducted as the seventh ballot in a General Election at virtually no cost,” Ruto and his allied said in a statement.
Ruto further reiterated his call for a non-contested referendum noting that “our stand is that it is never too late to do the right thing.”
“This is our country, what is the rush? Nobody can shut down a good proposal,” said Ruto.
“We care far too much for our country and fellow Kenyans to reduce this important exercise to a question of Yes and No; not just because it is premature and simplistic, but because there is real progress towards a consensus that we need to resolve outstanding issues inclusively, exhaustively and conclusively. Democracy provides us with infinite opportunity for deliberative consensus building, it is how great societies are built.”
Ruto’s team further faulted the proposal by BBI to increase the number of MPs in a bid to achieve the two-thirds gender rule, saying it will add more burden on taxpayers.
“By consensus, we mean we resolve all outstanding issues through consensus including issues on judicial independence, bloated government and legislature, equity and equality in representation, and affirmative action among others. By process, we mean providing a multiple-choice plebiscite to prevent the rejection of good ideas. By timing we mean we should hold the referendum in 2022 together with the General Elections in order to save costs and redirect available resources to mitigating the effects of COVID-19,” they stated.