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Raila Odinga: Youth must lead in economic liberation push

By John Shilitsa | November 22nd 2021

ODM party leader Raila Odinga addressing rally at Sabatia market in Butere. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has urged youth to get actively involved in the campaign to change Kenya’s economy.

Speaking in Butere, Kakamega yesterday, Raila said the journey to the country’s economic liberation had begun in earnest.

“I have come here to tell the youth to be in the forefront of pushing for economic liberation. Our forefathers fought for independence, then came the new Constitution, and now we have embarked on economic revolution,” Raila told supporters at Shiatsala and Sabatia trading centres in Butere Constituency yesterday.

Raila said if elected President next year, he would enhance access to medical services, education and create a friendly environment for Kenyans to do business.

“Kenyans should not be denied treatment because they cannot afford it. All citizens will have health insurance cover and those who will not afford it will have their medical bills catered for by my government,” said Raila.

He regretted that Kenyans were dying of preventable diseases. “Sometimes bodies are detained in mortuaries, that is unacceptable,” said Raila.

He defended his social protection programme that would guarantee needy families Sh6,000 stipend monthly, adding that the programme has worked well in Europe, America, Brazil, Namibia and Egypt. “We shall implement it in Kenya so that deserving families can be assisted.”

He promised youth who venture in business a seven-year tax leave. “We shall increase funds going to counties and expand technical training colleges so that children can acquire critical knowledge in diverse fields,” he said.

He said his government would invest more in industries to encourage value addition, in turn create market and jobs for youth. Raila criticised Deputy President William Ruto, saying the latter’s bottom-up economic model was not realistic in Kenya. He said youth needed jobs after graduating, not wheelbarrows.

He vowed to revive state-owned sugar factories. 

“A task-force was formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into issues bedevilling the sugar sector and a report was prepared. However, some leaders went to court and stalled everything. But we shall revamp the sector so that cane farmers can benefit.”

Raila, who was in Trans-Nzoia on Saturday and in Kakamega yesterday will take his Azimio la Umoja campaigns to West Pokot today.

Earlier, Raila, who spent two nights at governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s Mabole rural home on Saturday and Sunday, met different groups, including the Kakamega Council of Elders and ODM regional campaign team.

Met campaign team

He also met the ODM regional campaign team that briefed him on their strategies. “We discussed the planned ODM youth meeting in Kakamega that will bring together at least 2,000 young people from Western, and agreed on planning for a day when our party leader will receive defectors from other parties in the region,” said campaign team coordinator Nabii Nabwera.

Mr Oparanya and a host of MPs accompanying Raila reached out to ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula to back Raila’s presidential bid. 

“We don’t want to take our people in the opposition again. We urge all other leaders from this region to join us before it is too late,” said Oparanya.

According to the governor, it is not true that he abandoned Mudavadi. “We were both ODM members, but he chose to leave and form his party. In essence, he (Mudavadi) abandoned us,” said Oparanya.

Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali and Navakholo’s Emanuel Wangwe vowed to back Raila.

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