Ruto praises Raila for admitting merit of housing project

Opposition leader Raila Odinga. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

President William Ruto has praised opposition leader Raila Odinga for acknowledging that the affordable housing programme is good, even if he faults its design and implementation.

Ruto said Raila believes affordable housing is a noble project since they had a similar idea when he served as the minister for Roads, Transport and Housing in the Narc government.

He challenged the opposition leader to now support the programme and stop opposing its implementation.

"Now we have all agreed as a nation that affordable housing is good. Let us harmonise our thoughts and think of how we can create jobs for our young people,” said Ruto.

Speaking on a local FM station in Meru county on Saturday, Raila said ‘affordable housing’ was the vision of former President Mwai Kibaki but it was not meant to "force people to pay and buy homes."

He suggested that the government should allow Kenyans ‘willing to buy’ such houses to pay a deposit instead of imposing punitive taxes across the board.

But Ruto told off Raila for criticising the implementation of the project, saying "we must get people out of slums."

"We must be deliberate this time round to ensure we have programmes that will create jobs for our youth through affordable housing projects," he said. 

“Let him now stop opposition. Why was he (Raila) opposing the idea when he knows that it’s a good project for the people of Kenya?” Posed the President.

On leasing State-owned sugar factories, the Head of State said "No sugar company is being sold or privatised, we are only going to lease it to a strategic investor so that we can get best returns for our farmers."

"We have politicked enough on the revival of the sugar sector. For now, we don’t want politics of convenience and those against the plan should stop it,” he said.

Ruto announced that already Sh1.7 billion farmers' arrears owed by Nzoia Sugar Company had been paid and in June, he will release another Sh3 billion for cane development targeting farmers in sugar belt region.

Besides Nzoia, Sony Sugar, Chemilil and Muhoroni benefited from the bail-out.

“No State-owned sugar factory has a debt. It was written off and a certificate of clearance was issued. It's only Mumias Sugar that has a debt of Sh4 billion. I haven’t signed it as I am still ‘getting rid of cartels’ who are against its revival,” said Ruto.

He was speaking at Kakamega Approved School in Kakamega town during an interdenominational church service.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, who also attended the service, took a swipe at Raila who recently claimed the government was planning to install former electoral boss Wafula Chebukati as Chief Justice before the 2027 polls.

Raila claimed that the deal was sealed when Ruto held a meeting with Chief Justice Martha Koome at State House so that he could have a friendly Judiciary.

“We have people who want to criticise the president on everything. We want Raila to know that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is independent and has a right to recruit anyone who qualifies to be a judge,” said Mudavadi.

“It’s wrong for the opposition to try and tell JSC who to recruit or not. Politicians cannot interfere with the work of JSC. If Mr Chebukati forwards his bid and merits, why not appoint him,” he added.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula told the opposition that "when you have a problem, don’t look for who to blame, look for a solution."

Wetang'ula assured that the government is working towards transforming the country.

“All countries in the world have gone through serious challenges before they became economically stable. This transformation will always have some pain before you get gain,” he said.

“Those against your (Ruto) plans are saying that the concept is right, but the methodology is wrong. Don’t look back, you can become Lot’s wife in the Bible,” he added.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwah said we must pay taxes to develop Kenya.

“When they (opposition) make noise, be brave. Focus on what God has given you and what is right for the country. Even Raila has said the housing project is good for the country,” said Ichungwah.

Governors Fernandes Barasa (Kakamega), Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga), Ken Lusaka Bungoma), MPs Titus Khamala (Lurambi), Fred Ikana (Shinyalu), Nabii Nabwera (Lugari), Carol Omondi (Suba South), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua Woman Rep) and Mwangi Kiunjuri (Laikipia East), among other leaders, attended the church service.

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