|Fidel Odinga buried in Bondo. (PHOTO: DENNIS KAVISU)|
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s eldest son, Fidel Castro Odinga, was yesterday laid to rest at an emotional ceremony, with the Opposition leaders calling for peace in the country and dialogue with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.
Speaker after speaker used the occasion to call for dialogue between the Jubilee government and the opposition to address the challenges facing the country in honour of Fidel whom they eulogised as a peacemaker who easily crossed cultural boundaries in his social interactions.
“When we were in church in Nairobi for Fidel’s church service, (former Vice President) Kalonzo Musyoka spoke with the President and he agreed that he was ready to hold dialogue. We are also ready,” Raila said.
Kalonzo said the President should expedite a meeting between the government and the opposition: “Dialogue is not a preserve of an individual. Fidel’s death at the beginning of a new year must be used to bring peace and unity in the country. We can only achieve this when we dialogue,” said the Wiper party leader.
Senate Minority Leader, Moses Wetang’ula called on President Uhuru to advise the Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai to withdraw his appeal against the court’s ruling to suspend some of the provisions of the new security law.
“If the President is not just using propaganda and populist politics, let him instruct Githu to withdraw the Government’s appeal on the draconian security laws,” Wetang’ula said.
It is Fidel’s own sister, Rosemary, who set the tempo on the dialogue plea by appealing to the mourners to listen to her special message from Fidel: “Fidel’s wish was that both sides of the divide hold dialogue without giving each other ultimatums.”
The funeral service took place at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology grounds in Bondo, Siaya County before the burial at Opodo Farm in Bar Opuk Village.
Raila described Fidel as an honest, respectable and hardworking young man. “He was my friend and confidante and accompanied me in many of my political functions. But his death is not in vain. It has hit us hard but we are touched by the way friends have been with us,” Raila, who is also the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader said.
He called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to hold talks with the opposition to mark a new beginning for the country. He also thanked the Jubilee government for helping his family during this trying time.
“President Kenyatta and many of his government officials have been with us and gave us the helicopters that brought us and Fidel’s body home. I thank them wholeheartedly,” the ODM party leader said.
Kalonzo announced that CORD had drafted a Bill that they would present to the Government to address some of the challenges facing the nation.
“We want to address issues of insecurity and anchor devolution firmly in our Constitution to protect it. If the Government agrees, fine. If they reject our proposals, then we must go for a referendum this year,” Kalonzo said.
His sentiments were echoed by Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto who said that for devolution to be fully entrenched, more funds should be allocated to the counties.
“Raila has been on the forefront to fight for devolution and he has a great role to play in the leadership of this country. That is why we as governors are ready to work with him so that more money can be brought to the counties to develop the country,” Ruto, who is the chairman of the Council of Governors, said.
Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro echoed his sentiments and said that if the President fails to do so then he will have held the country back.
“Let the President act now but if he doesn’t, we will know that he signed the law to use it gag the media and the opposition,” Ongoro said.
Rosemary Odinga, Fidel’s sister, called on CORD and Jubilee to humble themselves and serve Kenyans.
“Let CORD embrace dialogue without issuing ultimatums. But Jubilee should know that they didn’t have instruments of power yesterday, and tomorrow, they will hand the same instruments to a different person. Only dialogue will bring us together,” Rosemary said.
Other CORD senators and MPs who spoke included party chairman John Mbadi, secretary general Ababu Namwamba, Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and James Orengo. Jakoyo Midiwo asked the Government to establish the cause of Fidel’s death