Kenya Presidential Election: I will bring a strong and clean leadership that spends resources on the people—Raila Odinga

Raila Odinga
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Raila Odinga. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

[Op-Ed]

On August 16, 2021, I launched the Azimio la Umoja movement in the city of Nakuru. 

On that day, I stated that we were embarking on a journey to create the political and ideological unity that we require as a country to confront the problems afflicting our people. 

I further stated my belief that to address the problems in a sustainable manner, we needed to bring the diversity of our people, their leaders and our problems to one table and embark on a systematic and transparent search for solutions, as equal members of a family called Kenya. 

I said back then that Kenya is diverse, divided and complex and no single man or woman can be its sole messiah. So we have no option but to build inclusive political processes. 

This dream has been a success beyond anything we imagined at that time. From an idea fronted by a few cautious individuals hosted by Governor Lee Kinyanjui for a few hours, we now have a mammoth party; one of the largest political formations in Africa – the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance Coalition Party. 

Every region, community, each gender, generation and every interest has credible representation at the Azimio table. The political inclusion that has long eluded us looks within reach. With it will come equitable sharing. 

Unity of Kenyans 

I am deeply proud of the unity in Azimio. The unity Kenyans see now is what they will see in the country and in government under Azimio. No more ego and greed inspired discordance in government that undermines service delivery. As I present my papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to be cleared to run for president of the Republic of Kenya, I can only express deepest of gratitude to the people of Kenya and the leaders with whom we have worked to build this unshakable formation. I thank God for his favour and mercy, for I see his guiding hand in this journey. 

While unity is a critical building block in realising peace and people-focused development, it requires other critical ingredients in the quest for national rebirth. Azimio places high premium on integrity, character, honour and decency. Putting these virtues at the centre of the management of our public affairs is critical to reclaiming and turning around our country. 

In all my quest to lead this nation, my principle has been and remains that the integrity of the government and the respect the government enjoys with the citizens begins with me as president. Then it percolates down the entire public service. I believe that when leaders fail the integrity and character test, they have no business staying in leadership. 

Zero tolerance to corruption 

When government is treated as a lottery where some are allowed to bet and fret away their loot, or a gold mine where a few with shovels can dig and take away a bit, the country cannot take off no matter the economic model applied. So, we are putting zero tolerance to corruption at the centre of this contest despite the discomfort of our competitors. The absence of men and women of honour and integrity in critical public offices has been the bane of our nation for decades. So, we are boldly putting integrity and personal character on the ballot in this contest. The integrity, decency and honour that Kenyans see in the Azimio ticket now is what they will see in government. 

In this campaign and later in government, I have a star-studded line up to rely on; men and women of integrity, character and distinguished public servants. They bring unity, not divisions, strength not weakness, answers, not questions to the upcoming government. 

I feel great to be competing the other team. The lines have never been this clear in our history. This is a once in a lifetime contest and we must grab it and cleanse the land. 

I trust that Kenyans are intelligent enough and will not experiment with a team with a dark past. Our opponents’ approach to governance is as old as what we had in the 1980s. It is a team of the past; the team that handed us an economy running at zero per cent in 2002. 

Their speeches and promises generalities that keep shifting. It is a team with a deep allegiance to the status quo, the torture manual of the 1980s, the mega scams of the 1990s and the ethnic violence of that era. They have attempted to claim the legacy of my former co-principal, the late President Mwai Kibaki. But they won’t mention that the entire Kibaki and Grand Coalition Cabinet is in Azimio, supporting my candidature. 

War on poverty 

The old ways will not work. Mere indignation and righteous anger will not do. There is no point telling Kenyans how difficult things are. They know that already. Cursing the darkness does not make the day break. We break the darkness by lighting a candle. As a leader, I see it as my duty to put hope into the hearts of our people, not to plant hopelessness and despair. I see it as our duty to do everything to set right what is wrong. I believe that if we love our country and anything is wrong with our country, it is our business to join hands and set things right through a credible plan of action. 

Our goal and core principle is to lead an all-out war on poverty, unemployment and hopelessness in Kenya and help realise the social and economic rights essential to the dignity of our people, as spelt out in Article 43 of our constitution. 

That well-intentioned section of our constitution – a constitution that I, my deputy and a host of other leaders in Azimio supported whole-heartedly guarantees Kenyans the rights to education, health, food, water, housing and social security. This is a platform this ticket has been on, long before this ticket ever came to be. 

That’s why we have plans to offer social protection to single mothers. It is the reason we are offering a monthly 6,000 Shillings stipend to poorest families so that they too can afford the basics. It is the reason we are offering health insurance so that every Kenyan can access quality medical services. 

It is the reason we are taking technology and equipment to the farms across Kenya so that our farmers can feed our people while we protect those farmers from exploitation. 

This is why we are talking of free education, manufacturing, decent jobs and supporting youth-owned businesses. Social security for upward social mobility for all Kenyans cuts across our plan for government. 

Finance personal greed 

While our competitors may make promises similar to ours in some cases or even more grandiose ones, the fact is that they won’t have the money to finance the promises because they have integrity challenges and a known history of stealing from public coffers. When leaders use public resources to finance personal greed, they won’t have enough to finance public good. That’s why I am so sure our competitors will fail. I don’t have that baggage in my team. 

I call on our supporters to take keen interest in and be proud of the contrast with our competitors who are thin on virtually everything Kenya cries for. They lack the integrity and character that is needed to create and take care of the nation’s wealth. They are thin in history of fighting for Kenyans. They are thin on the record of making sacrifices for the nation. They have a rich history of lording it on the people. 

This nation needs strong, creative and clean leadership that can spend resources on the people, not on the leaders. That is the Azimio government coming in August; clean, honest, efficient, pro-people. 

Mr. Raila Odinga is the Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya Coalition presidential contender. 

 

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