Raila warns no leader is above the law

Raila Odinga listens as Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru explains the value addition of Kirinyaga Coffee the start of the third day of the Sixth devolution Conference at Kirinyaga University grounds. [Mose Sammy/Standard]
Opposition Chief Raila Odinga yesterday told off leaders politicising the fight against corruption, stating that no Kenyan is above the law.

Speaking during the Sixth Annual Devolution Conference in Kirinyaga County yesterday, Mr Raila noted that while corruption was a global phenomenon, the manner in which countries tackle the vice was varied.

Citing corruption cases against top government officials in South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and South Korea, where leaders resigned from office and were convicted for corruption, the opposition chief said there was no reason for Kenya to be left behind in the corruption purge.

“If Indonesia’s energy minister can resign due to corruption and South Korea prosecute and convict a sitting President why not Kenya?" he asked.

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Give evidence

Raila noted that leaders who were quick to dismiss the war on corruption by claiming it was targeted at a certain community and individuals were misguided.

“When corruption is mentioned, some people are quick to claim it is targeting a community. If graft occurs, those in office are the ones who are questioned. It is not about balancing one community with another, it is the individual who is responsible not the community they are from,” he said.

He asked politicians to allow institutions to carry out their functions as is envisioned in the constitution and stop jumping to conclusions.

“Some people are quick to tell us how much money was stolen, who are you to tell us? Wait for the investigations to be concluded, unless you are the thief behind it, how did you know?” Raila said.

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The Opposition chief noted that no leader was above the law, which was why President Uhuru Kenyatta had dared anyone with evidence against him to come forward and present it to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

“President Uhuru said you can come forward if you have evidence and I can tell you if you are afraid to bring the evidence, bring it to me I will pursue the matter, I am not afraid,” he said.

He told delegates that while intense debate on constitutional referendum was ongoing, it was clear that devolution was here to stay and that counties should remain as they are because the system was a success as envisioned in the Constitution.

Kenyans, he said, must however address the fact that a number of counties are too tiny to compete economically with others in terms of population, infrastructure and resources.

“This is why as a logical response, we have seen the formation of regional blocs to pool together resources and infrastructure and this council of governors is the perfect forum to push for the formalisation of regional blocs,” he explained.

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Raila noted that formalisation of regional blocs did not necessarily mean dismantling the counties, but would mean strengthening the blocs to make it easier to pool resources and allow units to harness their potential.

Peer review

“Other countries have three levels of government, State, Federal and National as is the case in United States and Nigeria or in the case of South Africa where they have state, Provincial and National,” he added.

While he lauded governors for holding the devolution conference consistently for six years, he challenged them to move past the rhetoric and pomp of the event and turn it into a peer review platform to learn from each county.

“At the African Union, peer review of four member countries took place recently and it was a interesting way to allow members to learn from each other, laud success and find solutions to challenges,” Raila said.

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He challenged the national government to allocate more funds to county governments which he said were the pillars of the big four agenda.

Raila said it was unfortunate that the national government was procuring hospital equipment or fertiliser for farmers yet these were devolved functions that could be undertaken by governors.

“The fact is the big four agenda touches mainly on devolved functions, such as health and agriculture. The counties must be at the forefront in achieving the Big Four and therefore the funds to actualise these programmes should be devolved to counties,” he said.

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Raila Odinga6th devolution conferenceWar Against Corruption