CORD leader Raila Odinga has dismissed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s comments that the Opposition betrayed the country during US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Kenya.
Raila and other CORD legislators cautioned the government against using Obama’s meeting with the Opposition to divert the attention of Kenyans on important matters.
“Our meeting with Obama was private. President Kenyatta should not lie to the nation. Obama told the Government to fight corruption and promote national unity. These are the issues the President should be telling Kenyans how he is handling them,” Raila told a rally at Ahindi grounds.
He added: “We told Obama to help reform the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by establishing a reputable ICT platform so that future elections are not stolen. We also told him to assist Kenya achieve the one third gender rule because the Jubilee government is not ready to implement it. This is not betrayal.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo wondered whether Uhuru was eavesdropping on their meeting. “Obama, in all his speeches, was rebuking the Government. When we met Obama, we were just comparing notes,” he said.
Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama warned that if the IEBC is not reformed, the Opposition will mobilise Kenyans not to vote. “There is no way we can go to the general election until we reform IEBC. Parties must be represented on the electoral commission to ensure fairness,” Muthama said.
Raila also called on governors to stand up for devolution. He accused the national government of scheming to kill devolution just as it happened after independence.
Speaking during the inaugural sitting of the refurbished Siaya County Assembly, Raila singled out the government’s failure to devolve all functions meant for the county governments, weakening of the Senate and the establishment of the Devolution Ministry as the Government’s way of undermining devolution.
“The Ministry of Devolution should be scrapped because county governments should deal directly with the Treasury. The Jubilee government has realised that devolution is doing wonders for Kenyans and wants to retain control at the centre,” he said.
Raila led the assembly to observe a minute’s silence in honour of Dr Odhiambo Mbai, the late chairman of the Devolution Task-force.
“Those who killed devolution at independence are the ones who killed Mbai and are the same ones who want to kill devolution now. After realising that county governments are doing miracles, they are keen to scuttle devolution by retaining the money at the centre,” he said.
Raila also cautioned county executives and members of the county assemblies (MCAs) to protect devolution by practicing prudent financial management and avoiding endless wrangles.
“Here in Siaya, am informed the MCAs do business with the county government as contractors, and money has been lost during the issuance of bursaries. This should stop. There’s no way MCAs will do business with the counties and still perform their oversight, representation and legislation roles,” he stressed.
In an apparent show of support to Governor Cornel Rasanga, the former premier said the governor’s team has done a lot for the area and should be left to fulfill his mandate.
“Records show that maize production has increased from 10 per cent to 41 per cent this year, 20 tractors are available for use by farmers, 100 hectares of land are under irrigation and 130 kilometres of new roads have been done. This is a good performance, “ Raila said.
Rasanga, who was sharing the same forum with some of his critics like Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo and his Ugenya counterpart David Ochieng for the first time, asked leaders to avoid petty politics and work together for the benefit of wananchi. “We are doing our best and evidence is there for all to see. My door is open to all leaders and the public,” Rasanga said.
Meanwhile, Siaya County Commissioner Caroline Onchoka has banned a public rally dubbed “Nane Nane Okoa Siaya” that was meant to take place today at Ahindi grounds in Siaya town. The rally was organised by former Alego-Usonga MP Sammy Weya and Gem politician Elisha Omondi to press the governor to address audit questions raised by the Auditor General.