Raila: Handshake was a development strategy

Former Prime Minster Raila Odinga addresses mourners at Nyanturago in Kisii County during the burial of former Nyaribari Masaba MP Hezron Manduku. [Sammy Omingo/Standard]

Opposition chief Raila Odinga has said his working with the Government is aimed at bringing development to the Nyanza region.

Mr Odinga said recent Government projects in the region, especially in Kisumu, were a pointer of the change in tack in his leadership style.

Speaking in Siaya County on Saturday, Raila said such development projects were the fruits of a changed political approach. 

"I have always told you there are several ways of taming a cat. You know where we have come from and how far we need to go," Raila said.

He added that his association with the State has attracted Government-sponsored projects with the potential to unlock the region's economic power and lift its people out of poverty. 

"We have to strongly fight poverty and retrogression that have tied our youth to dependency. There are several paths to development and in pursuing them, we are looking ahead," Raila said.

Among the projects the Government is undertaking in Nyanza are the revival of Kisumu Port and fighting water hyacinth in Lake Victoria.

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Plans have also been mooted to establish an industrial park and revive the Kisumu Cotton Mills.

Raila, who presided over the launch of the Ugunja Technical and Vocational College, raised concerns over a dearth in skills that prepare students for the job market.

He said there is a serious problem in the country, with employers looking for people to employ but ending up with half-baked graduates. 

"I am talking as a mechanical engineer. So I am like a fish in water at this point. I have looked at the facilities in this institution and they are excellent," Raila said.

"They can give our youths proper training that will fill the gap in the employment market."

Timely project

The ODM leader praised the investment in a technical and vocational training institution, saying the project was timely for the region.

He noted that one of the key challenges that the country was facing was the lack of employment opportunities for young people.

"Kenyans have always been socialised to believe that they should get a good education so that they can land well-paying jobs. Today, thousands of Kenyans with excellent academic papers are jobless," he said.

"At the same time, employers are insisting that they cannot get workers with the skills they need, which means even as young people struggle to get work, many highly skilled jobs remain unfilled."

Raila said the country has to rethink the structure of the education system to address unemployment.

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Former Prime Minster Raila OdingaKisiiKisumu Port