ODM leader Raila Odinga has made a passionate plea for support of the Building Bridges Initiative.
In a speech delivered at Ufungamano House in Nairobi yesterday, Raila, who was addressing a joint meeting of ODM and Jubilee Party Youth League leaders, described the day as a ‘new dawn’.
The youth were assembled as the parties prepare to hit the ground running to popularise the push for constitutional changes through the BBI process.
The two political parties are banking on their youth to campaign for BBI, which proposes far-reaching amendments to the 2010 Constitution, including restructuring the Executive. The initiative is being driven by Raila’s pact with President Uhuru Kenyatta following their historic handshake in March 2018.
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“We will go to every corner of the country, even to Eldoret, so Kenyans can know a new dawn has come,” Raila said.
He backed comments Uhuru made in Sabatia on Saturday suggesting the presidency should not be held by the same communities. Raila, who took the comment to mean Uhuru was calling for a rotational presidency, said those who labelled the president tribal were mistaken.
He said he had observed rotational presidency work in Switzerland, saying more communities needed to be involved in the leadership of the country.
“So it is not like what Uhuru was saying has not happened in other countries. The BBI is proposing an expanded executive with a president, prime minister and two deputy premiers and we support that,” Raila said.
He said the 2008 coalition government with President Mwai Kibaki, in which he served as PM, was the best lesson on the merits of power-sharing, inclusivity and efficiency in government.
“Many good things happened because of the cooperation we had with Kibaki. We tackled corruption, we were efficient,” Raila said.
The ODM leader said a parliamentary system is more accountable than a presidential one.
He said contrary to claims running a government with an expanded executive would be a burden to the taxpayer, the cost would be lower.
He was accompanied by Suba MP Junet Mohammed, Maina Kamanda (Nominated), Babu Owino (Embakasi East) and BBI national secretariat co-chairman Dennis Waweru.
Raila also hit out at Deputy President William Ruto over his ‘hustler nation’ movement, saying the DP was not committed to empowering the youth.
Blaming Ruto for the undelivered Jubilee government pledges, Raila said the DP was promising the youth economic empowerment while ignoring the government projects and the BBI initiative that would have made true the dream he is trying to sell the ‘hustlers’.
The ODM leader pointed out key pledges Jubilee made in 2013 such as the construction of stadia, providing laptops to schools and transforming Kenya into a digital economy, all of which have not been delivered.
“Now he has forgotten all the promises he made and is telling us that he is looking out for the small man, the hustler. Before we get to the hustlers, where is the knowledge-based economy that you promised?” Raila said.
Before youth drawn mostly from Nairobi’s informal settlements, Raila painted the picture of a city of contrasts and widening gap between the haves and the have nots.
Nairobi, he said, generated approximately 60 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product, yet it is also a city with almost half of its population living in squalid conditions in urban slums with no toilets.