Raila: Uhuru’s visit does not bother me
The President, who last week postponed a planned trip to Kisumu, has made frequent visits to areas perceived to be Mr Odinga’s strongholds in what Jubilee strategists have packaged as part of his efforts to demonstrate that he is committed to develop all parts of the country regardless of their political leaning.
However, Mr Odinga is dismissive of the idea that the President must tour a particular region for it to experience development, arguing that all Kenyans deserve a share of national resources.
He says that tying development to presidential visits was a “primitive political culture” that should have died with the end of the Kanu era.
According to Mr Odinga, Cord supporters cannot be swayed by “presidential motorcades”. He said that his political stronghold was “national”.
“Our support is not so cheap for people to change their stand because of a presidential motorcade,” he said yesterday in an afternoon conversation with the Sunday Nation at his Bondo home.
There have been suggestions that President Kenyatta’s planned visit to Kisumu was postponed to accommodate Mr Odinga who was out of the country but the former Prime Minister on Saturday indicated that State House had not contacted him over the trip, adding that such contact was unnecessary.
“The President is the leader of the whole country and he is free to visit any part of the nation. He is welcome to Kisumu and does not require my blessings to do so,” he said.
“Jubilee has an agenda though it has chosen to discriminate against other parts of the country. The President is free to sell himself politically and his agenda anywhere in the country and address problems facing the people.”
According to the ODM leader, the President had visited a number of his strongholds without much ado.
“He has been to Mombasa, Kakamega, Teso, Kilifi, Migori, Kisii, Nairobi and many other places which voted for me in the last election without my blessings,” he said.
“I am least perturbed about the visits. People from those regions pay taxes. They don’t need to support Jubilee or work with government for their areas to be developed.”
According to Mr Odinga, the constitution demands that national resources and state jobs be distributed equitably and development should not be marketed as “a favour” to the people by the ruling coalition.
The Cord principal also laughed off the recent decision by President Kenyatta to “hand over” power to his Deputy William Ruto ahead of his appearance at the International Criminal Court, saying it was “ridiculous” and the summoning of Parliament to make the announcement was a “waste of public resources”.
“I was amused by the hullabaloo over the purported handover. Article 147 of the constitution makes it automatic for the Deputy President to act as Head of State in the absence of the President,” argued the Opposition leader who fought for the presidency against the two in the March 2013 General Election.
“Handing over a motorcade is not handing over power. If Uhuru was serious, he should have also given Mr Ruto the instruments of power such as the presidential sword.”
Mr Odinga is currently at the centre of a push for a constitutional referendum to increase allocation of resources to county governments, address issues of equity in sharing of public jobs, land and electoral reforms under the Okoa Kenya campaign also spearheaded by former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.
President Kenyatta is leading the Jubilee brigade against the referendum campaign, saying it is diversionary, unnecessary, a waste of public resources and a strategy by the Cord leaders to rejuvenate their political careers. The Council of Governors is also rallying another referendum for more money to the counties through the Pesa Mashinani drive.
In the conversation yesterday, Mr Odinga revealed that the Okoa Kenya team had settled on three issues that will be the pillars of the debate: Devolution, land and electoral reforms.
REVIEW COLLECTED SIGNATURES
The ODM leader said the Okoa Kenya campaign had reduced its tempo to allow its committee of experts to verify the collected signatures, which he claimed were more than five million.
According to the former PM, Okoa Kenya is proposing increase of budgetary allocation to counties, devolution of aspects of security to ensure that Administration Police report to governors as well as devolution of education infrastructure.
On education, they want the national government to handle teachers and the curriculum while the sub-nationals will oversee development of classrooms and other infrastructure.
“We have dropped some of the issues after testing public opinion. Our team is verifying the signatures and we hope to move to the next step next month.”
To address issues of elections, Mr Odinga, who led a team to monitor the just-concluded Mozambique elections, said that political parties should be allowed to nominate individuals to the electoral commission to ensure transparency and fairness.
According to Mr Odinga, the National Land Commission should be allowed to handle all public and community land issues in consultation with county governments while the national government deals with private land.
He accused the Jubilee Government of abetting corruption in the management of land and public resources.
At the same time, Mr Odinga challenged Mr Ruto to come clear on the source of money he has been dishing out in harambees.
“We suspect that the source is dubious. Where does he get Sh40 million every month yet his salary is Sh2 million? We know his business interests cannot generate the kind of money he has been dishing out every weekend.”
Stressing that he was not opposed to harambees, Mr Odinga said he was concerned that they may be used as an avenue for misuse of public funds and demanded greater transparency.