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Congress calls for meaningful engagement of youth in BBI

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The Youth Congress is calling for meaningful engagement of youth in the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Convener, The Youth Congress, Raphael Obonyo says youth deserve a slot and should be meaningfully engaged for the Building Bridges Initiative to succeed.

“Youth are not only a significantly large demographic in Kenya, they are the country’s greatest asset. They represent dynamism, talent and energy that must be harnessed in all processes for the country to make real progress. It should go without saying that the youth are Kenya—and we cannot leave Africa behind.” He said.

He noted that although President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga should be applauded for the initiative to address some of the national challenges and build a united Kenya, they are deeply concerned that youth are not represented in task force and the proposed committee of experts.

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“Most importantly, youth have not been meaningfully involved in the process. Lack of youth engagement is a hindrance to real progress. As we continue with the initiative of Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation, we call on all stakeholders to leave no youth behind.” He added.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the term of the Building Bridges taskforce.

The taskforce will now steer the next phase of the process of the report which will involve expanding and guiding public participation, and structuring recommendations by Kenyans into implementable action plans.

The unveiling of the report a few weeks ago has drawn mixed reaction amongst Kenyans.

While the political class has largely endorsed the initial draft presented by the senator Yusuf Haji team at the Bomas of Kenya, its implementation has divided political opinion.

During the launch of the report, the president assured that the proposals in the document are aimed at building a cohesive and progressive country.

The President said BBI report is meant to address some of the challenges facing the country such as unemployment, electoral violence, poverty and corruption.

He said the BBI process is not against any one politician and cautioned the political class against divisive politics saying individual thirst for power should never be allowed to override national interests.

“I appeal especially to the political class. Do not divide Kenyans, they do not deserve it. We are here talking about their wellbeing. We are here talking about their peace,” said the President.

“This is not about us as leaders but it is about the 47 million Kenyan patriots. Let us read it and we can come back here at a time around early next year,” said the President.

He said the report by the Presidential task force that was headed by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji has a wide range of recommendations on an array of issues such as the country’s governance system and suggestions on ways of bridging the economic divide between the rich and the poor in the country.

The BBI report proposes that an executive president will continue heading the government with a vice president as a principal assistant.

The BBI Taskforce

However, it proposes that the President will nominate a Prime Minister from the largest party or coalition in parliament who will be in charge of the daily running of government.

The report recommends that Cabinet Secretaries be selected from within and outside parliament and the for role to be renamed to Cabinet Ministers.

The report contains proposals aimed at tackling corruption with a recommendation to bar civil servants from doing business with the government.

On gender equality in leadership, the report makes a number of recommendations key among them being that in a case where the governor is a man, his deputy should be a lady and vice versa.

President Kenyatta said the recommendations, if accepted by Kenyans, will create an enabling environment for an inclusive government adding that his biggest preoccupation is how to keep the country peaceful and progressive.

“Let us focus on what unites us and makes us cohesive and let us remove negative ethnicity,” the President told thousands of delegates drawn from across the country and representing different interest groups.

Former Prime Minister Odinga narrated how private talks between him and President Kenyatta led to the handshake on the steps of Harambee House that bred the BBI process.

He said the purpose of the BBI report is to foster unity in the country, create equity among Kenyans, bridge gaps in the country’s governance structure and deal with other national challenges including corruption.

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