Monday, May 27, 2024

[VIDEO] Kisumu gives Uhuru rousing welcome, Wandayi says visit half-hearted, pointless

Business on Kisumu’s Oginga Odinga Street came to a stand still on Tuesday as residents lined up, eagerly waiting for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru toured the county to preside over the 58th Kenya National Drama Festival at Kisumu State Lodge.

“I am here to welcome the President…I hope everything will be okay during the visit,” Kennedy Ochieng told the Star on Tuesday.

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Ochieng said it was a privilege for the head of state to be in Jack Ranguma’s county as some of the people there had never seen him.

Others noted Uhuru rarely goes to the lakeside; he last visited Kisumu, a stronghold of Opposition Chief Raila Odinga, in February 2016.

“I am anxious to see the President. I want to see whether he will agree to greet the residents along the street,” another said.

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But other businesses went on as usual, the proprietors saying Uhuru “comes and goes”.

“We have to continue working because nothing will change,” Bernard Juma said.

Security was beefed up in the region; Nyanza regional coordinator Wilson Njenga, regional police boss Willy Lugusa and county commissioner Mohamed Maalim were among top officers who were in charge.


President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses residents in Kisumu town upon arrival for the 58th edition of the National Drama Festivals State Concert at Kisumu State Lodge. /PSCU

Uhuru was received by Ranguma and Karachuonyo MP James Rege and addressed a roadside rally of many supporters.

He urged peace and the avoidance of exploitation by politicians who hire youths to cause chaos at public functions.

“Do not allow yourselves to be used by politicians who will dump you once they have achieved their political goals,” he said.

The President said every Kenyan has a right to choose leaders by voting, and emphasised the importance of peace and unity through out the election.

“It does not matter whether you are a Kamba, a Luo, Kikuyu or a member of any other tribe. What is important is that we are all Kenyans,” he said.

“Everyone has the right to vote. [That is why I will come back next month to] ask for your votes for a second term.”

Raila and other leaders in the National Super Alliance want to get Uhuru and DP William Ruto out of power. Their concerns include lack of development and corruption.

Uhuru promised the residents that he will return in May on a development-related visit and interact with them and their leaders.

He said Jubilee is focused on development but that this is impossible without peace.

“We need to reject politics of tribe and division. Let us unite and move forward together to improve the country’s economy.”

The President held a meeting with religious leaders at Kisumu airport. They told him of their campaign to ensure the country maintains peace during elections.

Uhuru also held a private meeting with Jubilee leaders before proceeding to the festival.

State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said he will hold a series of meetings, details of which will be communicated in due course.

Uhuru is expected to visit Vihiga county, the backyard of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 58th edition of the Kenya National Drama Festival State concert at Kisumu State Lodge, April 18, 2017. /PSCU

Wandayi says Kisumu visit pointless

ODM’s political affairs secretary laughed off the President’s visit terming it belated and non-beneficial.

Opiyo Wandayi, who is Ugunja MP, said Uhuru toured the lakeside city primarily to watch and enjoy performances by drama festival finalist schools.

“He needs to do some soul-searching on his development track record in the region,” Wandayi said, and accused the Jubilee administration of sidelining Nyanza yet the people also pay taxes.

“What positive impact, if any, has his administration made on the lives of the people of Kisumu and the entire lakeside region for the last four years?”

The MP said this is the single most important question the President needs to ask and answer.

Wandayi said the statement State House issued before the tour showed Uhuru and his team have either completely lost touch with reality or are living in a perpetual state of denial.

“Enumerating county government and CDF disbursements to the region as contributions by Jubilee is an unforgivable insult to the intelligence of the local population,” he told the press.

For starters, the secretary said, the disbursements are anchored in the constitution and other statutes and would be given whether or not Jubilee was in power.

Wandayi said it was unsettling that Uhuru probably flew over the “water hyacinth-choked Lake Victoria” before landing yet his office has failed to offer and implement solutions.

He noted the lake remains the mainstay of the region’s economy under Jubilee’s watch.

The government has allocated Sh200 million and assigned 5,000 NYS cohorts the task of getting rid of the hyacinth.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses residents in Kisumu town upon arrival for the 58th edition of the National Drama Festivals State Concert at Kisumu State Lodge. /PSCU

Wandayi said Uhuru should explain his administration’s failure to ease the burden of sugarcane farmers, by writing off the debts of local millers, as has been the case in other sectors.

“He should also justify the Sh4.2 billion flagship Lake Basin Development Authority mall complex in Kisumu, which is not operational close to a year since it was completed,” he said, noting the rate of unemployment in the region remains high.

“The President also needs to explain why Western Kenya has not benefited from any new infrastructure development project since he came to power despite the much hyped Jubilee’s 10,000 km tarmacked roads mirage.”

Wandayi said the tour would not make sense without Uhuru’s answers to these questions.

“The visit would be nothing other than a reminder of the marginalisation and isolationist policy that his regime has practised with zeal,” he said.


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