Now ODM hits back at Uhuru over Raila perks

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ODM leader Raila Odinga’s office on Monday reacted angrily to President Kenyatta’s refusal to assent to a Bill that would have given the former Prime Minister millions of shillings in pension.

Describing the President’s move as malicious, Mr Odinga’s spokesman, Mr Dennis Onyango, listed examples of prominent leaders both in Kenya and abroad who had retired from public office and received their pension only to join active politics.

“Kenya has had several cases of people earning their pension for past work done while at the same time remaining involved in active public life including politics,” said Mr Onyango, giving the examples of former Cabinet ministers Simeon Nyachae and the late John Michuki, both of whom quit the civil service and received their pensions, only to join elective politics.

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Both had retired as civil servants after which they joined politics.

“Simeon Nyachae retired as Chief Secretary, earned his pension then moved into politics all the while enjoying his pension,” said Mr Onyango.

“In Tanzania, former Prime Minister Sumaye quit with Benjamin Mkapa. He is on pension but he ran against Jakaya Kikwete and is once again campaigning for a CCM ticket in coming presidential elections. Nobody has stopped his pension and he is allowed access to VIP lounges in Kenyan airports, which Raila is barred from.”

The statement also cited the case of former US president Bill Clinton who has remained in active politics but continues to earn his pension. Mr Clinton has not vied for an elective seat since his two terms as president ended in 2001.

“The decision by President Uhuru to reject Raila’s pension is driven purely by malice and fear of Raila,” said Mr Onyango in his seven-point statement.

UNFAIR

Separately, ODM MPs also described the President’s decision as unfair but supported Mr Odinga’s decision to reject the benefits if it meant compelling him to quit elective politics.

They accused Mr Kenyatta of acting out of fear when he refused to sign into law the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2013, that would have given their leader and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka Sh21 million and Sh19.8 million in lumpsum payments respectively.

The two would also have received Sh960,000 and Sh880,000 as a monthly stipend respectively.

Last Thursday, the Head of State did not sign the Bill into law on grounds that the two leaders have remained in elective politics.

Responding to the move last week, Mr Odinga said he was not ready to beg for his pension and said he would not quit serving his country to get a pension.

Over the weekend, Mr Odinga launched an SMS service, dubbed Raila Connect, which observers said was part of his campaign for the 2017 presidential election.

Mr Kenyatta’s decision has ignited public debate, with some arguing that the decision was unfair while others — including Jubilee MPs — have supported it.

On Sunday a group of Jubilee MPs and other political leaders — including Deputy President William Ruto — said Mr Odinga should forgo his pension if he intends to be on the ballot in the next General Election.

NOT READY

On Monday, six ODM legislators who addressed a press conference at Parliament Buildings said Mr Odinga was not ready to shelve his political ambitions and warned the President and his Deputy to prepare to face him at the ballot. They, however, said it was unfair for a person like Mr Odinga, who had served the country as a Prime Minister, to be denied his retirement benefits.

“Raila is increasingly reminding Jubilee of what Gen Buhari did to Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria. Jubilee is fearful of Raila becoming the Buhari of Kenya and he will be. So let them keep the pension. We will meet at the ballot,” they said in a statement read on their behalf by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandai.

Other MPs present were; Mr T J Kajwang (Ruaraka), Dr James Nyikal (Seme), Ms Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Woman Rep), Ms Denittah Ghati (Migori County) and Ms Mary Otara (Kisii County Woman Rep).

They said the Jubilee Coalition was desperate for Mr Odinga’s retirement since he is the “catalyst for action and change” in the country.

“He is the conscience and soul of this nation. Nothing moves until Raila has moved. The fear of Raila is what makes Jubilee try to work,” said the lawmakers.

They claimed that it is after Mr Odinga’s visit to Baringo last week that the government started acting on the state of insecurity that has rocked the county for months.

-nation.co.ke

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