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Raila: I’ll give more cash to counties if elected

ODM leader Raila Odinga receives a branded T-shirt from Aaron Munene at Ufungamano Social Hall in Nairobi yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday gave the strongest hint yet that he will be on the ballot in the 2022 General Election by promising to increase funding to the counties if voters pick him as Head of State.

Speaking at Ufungamano Hall in Nairobi where he met youth from Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties, he said devolution was one of the biggest gains in the 2010 Constitution and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was only seeking to strengthen it.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, popularly known as BBI Bill, proposes an allocation of 35 per cent up from 15 per cent.

Raila said countries like Nigeria had allocated more than half of their funds to the devolved units and it was possible for Kenya to achieve the same with commitment.

By yesterday, 41 county assemblies had passed the Bill whose next stop will be the National Assembly.

“If I am there, I will push the funds to counties to 40 per cent and subsequently to 55 per cent like in Nigeria. We can do it. There is no point in retaining the decision-making and funds for the country in Nairobi,” said Raila.

The ODM leader is yet to declare he will vie for the presidency even though his allies have made no secret of the fact that they think will be the man to beat.

ODM invited applicants seeking to be considered for the party ticket for the top seat to present their papers in a process whose deadline was scheduled for tomorrow.

Payment schedule

Recent happenings in Raila’s camp have set tongues wagging amid speculation on what could be his next move.

Details of plans to buy choppers emerged last week even as the ODM leader met with two presidential hopefuls –Mukhisa Kituyi and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana – at his Capitol Hill office.

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Raila is said to be in the process of procuring four helicopters from France in what sources said was part of preparations for his possible fifth stab at the presidency.

The Standard has learnt that the payment schedule for the choppers had been completed and they are awaiting delivery to the country. Assembly is set to be done at Wilson Airport.

Last week, Raila also received a public address system for his rallies.

He had sent an ODM MP to the US last month to buy the state-of-the-art sound system worth Sh5 million.

When sought for comment last week, the MP downplayed the purchases describing them as “normal preparations by any party keen on capturing power.”

ODM chair John Mbadi also confirmed that preparations for the 2022 contest are in top gear. He, however, refused to provide finer details.

“It is true that we are putting systems in place and everything that we need for the campaigns,” Mbadi said.

Raila yesterday said he was happy that Kenyans had decided to shun the naysayers to pass the BBI Bill.

“There are some who were campaigning for the Bill to be defeated. This is diamond or platinum that some wanted to sell as something bogus. I say God please forgive them.”

The former premier said the BBI Bill proposed funding for the youth, which would empower about one million young people getting into the job market every year.

He said the youth can be a curse or a blessing depending on how they are handled.

“Forget the four per cent growth rate; we can achieve between 10 to 15 per cent growth if we turn the youth into active agents of development.”

In a swipe at Deputy President William Ruto, Raila said those giving wheelbarrows to the youth were misleading them.

“A wheelbarrow is not anything much more than a tool for the construction site. It will not change the youths’ lives.”

He also accused the Jubilee Government of failing the young people.

“They promised that they will give Class One children laptops and now the children are in Class Eight without the gadgets. That is bad.”

He also noted that the BBI Bill advocates for the empowerment of women, saying a country cannot grow rapidly if one-half of its population is not actively involved in its development.

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