Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Pressure is piling on the national dialogue committee to conclusively tackle the cost of living with the opposition now threatening to shoot down the team's report on the subject.

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leaders Saturday said they would oppose the report, expected at the end of this month if it did not offer concrete resolutions on the cost of living.

The coalition has demanded answers over the wastage unearthed by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o when she met the committee last week, blaming the high living costs on systemic corruption.

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka termed Nyakang'o's revelations of the three-fold overbudgeting of salaries in the government "very shocking", stating that Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u should provide answers.

"The COB came to us and spoke as an expert, complete with tabulations and figures. We are waiting for an explanation on the heist in government," Kalonzo said during a fundraising function held on the 25th anniversary of the Umoja II SDA church in Nairobi.

"We want to hear out Ndung'u in the open," he added.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said it was shameful that corruption still thrived as Kenyans bore the brunt of the cost of living.

"How do we overburden Kenyans with higher taxes and still steal from them? Kenya is facing a deep leadership crisis," said the Orange Democratic Movement Secretary General.

Earlier, he had led Azimio lawmakers in piling pressure on the talks team, co-chaired by Kalonzo and Kikuyu Member of Parliament Kimani Ichung'wah, to address the pressing plight of Kenyans.

"Even in the previous talks, I was sent to discuss the cost of unga. We will shoot down the report if it doesn't include the cost of living. The cost of unga and electricity must come down. The country is crying out for leadership with empathy, with the capacity to be ashamed when things are shameful," Sifuna added, further faulting the government for recent demolitions.

"They promised there would be no demolitions. In Embakasi East, people are leaving in fear," he added.

Kalonzo said that the cost of living issue would be a dealbreaker, even as he urged lawmakers to take action if Azimio's demands were ignored.

"The country is expecting some hope. We will be watching to see if they refuse to listen to the pleas of hungry Kenyans. The right to a decent life is constitutionally guaranteed," said the Wiper leader.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino urged Kalonzo not to "cede ground" in the talks, saying that it would be a betrayal if a subject that took Kenyans to the streets in protests would be ignored.

"Under your leadership, ensure to get the heavy burden off these people's shoulders. Until now, students who haven't reported to school because their parents can't afford the Sh300,000 they are asked to pay as school fees," stated Babu.

On his part, National Assembly Deputy Minority Whip Mark Mwenje faulted the plans to scrap free primary education, terming the move "terrible". 

"We were voted for because we were in Azimio. The decision of thousands of voters cannot be reversed by five people," the Embakasi West MP said.

Most lawmakers from Nairobi called for a return of the Kazi Mtaani programme, which they equated to the fertiliser subsidy issued to rural counties.

"Nairobi cannot be left behind. Our children are suffering unemployment, which is pushing them to the brink," said Starehe MP Amos Mwago, remarks shared by his Embakasi South colleague Musili Mawathe.

"As ODM, we rally behind our party leader, Raila Odinga. He has already made his position clear. We are indebted to Kalonzo, and we intend to return the favour," said Sifuna.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said that the position of Azimio flagbearer was a forgone conclusion.

"Raila finished it all with his remarks. If you keenly listened to him, he said it all. We want a steadfast and honest leader, a character found in Kalonzo," he said.

By AFP 7 hrs ago
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