Monday, 24 February 2014

Speech by Rt. Hon Raila Odinga During Launch of A'rise Youth Empowerment Programme

Remarks by the Rt Hon Raila A Odinga EGH at the launch of the
Kisumu, February 24, 2014

THANK YOU for inviting me to share my thoughts with you on the situation of young people in our country today, and what we in CORD and ODM are doing about it.

I know very well how hard young people are struggling to get out of poverty.

About 800,000 youths leave school each year and begin looking for jobs. I know how much each and every one of them would like to be economically independent, would like to find a decent job or start a business, and would like to be able to provide an economically secure future for a family of their own. 

But today TWO MILLION young Kenyans, whether educated or not, are without work or an income. And the current government is doing nothing about it. Its election pledge to create a million jobs a year has vanished without trace. Have any jobs at all been created in the past 12 months? We have not heard of them.

I was well aware of the problems of joblessness and poverty when I joined government in 2008, and that was the reason one of my first tasks was to initiate the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme. Then, in June 2011, I introduced subsidised unga for the less economically able.

At a time when a 2kg bag of Hostess unga was selling for 156 shillings, and Jogoo at about 130 shillings, I prevailed on the government to subsidise unga for the poor, something that had never been done before in Kenya – and under the project a 2kg bag retailed at the greatly reduced price of 52 shillings.

The next step would have been to introduce vouchers and special shopswhere the less economically able could buy basic commodities at cheaper prices.

Kazi Kwa Vijana, known as KKV, addressed the fact that the poor and the unemployed, whether educated or not, ALL have families to take care of.Phase one, with its labour-intensive jobs, was rolled out to target those with less education – while I continued to plan phase two, targeting those with formal educational qualifications.

I took these steps because I believe a government exists to care for the nation’s people.

Unfortunately, our Kenya government includes too many people who care only for themselves. The subsidised unga and KKV programmes ran into problems due to lack of public accountability by the corrupt. They took advantage to amass money for themselves. 

At the same time, those controlling the Treasury saw an opportunity to create negative propaganda against ODM, fearing that our programmes,designed to assist the poor, would make ODM popular. Those who controlled the Treasury found ways to kill these programmes.

It seems that there are always people in government who think the poor are there simply to be exploited. We see this today in the prices of unga, milk, sugar, paraffin, electricity, books and mobile phones, which have all risen steeply under the current regime. Nobody in government has the least idea how to stop this, or how to cushion the poor. Nor do they care.

Of course, it doesn’t happen only in Kenya. In the US, for example, similarly selfish people have been grimly fighting President Obama’s plan to introduce health insurance for the poor. Greed and self-interest are what drives such people. 

So what are we doing as Opposition? We have a plan but, before I lay itout, let me pose the Six-Billion-Shilling Question. 

During the election campaigns last year, both CORD and Jubilee promised that, if they won the election in the first round, they would give out to the youth the six billion shillings that had been set aside for a potential second-round run-off.

Today, a year later, Jubilee is not talking about this money. Instead, it is talking of a Bill to give contracts to the youth. It is talking of the Uwezo Fund etc. What happened to the six billion Kenya shillings?

In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how the Apostles came across a poor, crippled beggar, and Peter told him: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.” 

CORD did not form the government. In ODM, we don’t have political power or much money. But we will give you ideas and expertise. That is what we can share with you. That, and concrete, supportive plans to help you progress.

We promised to help young people acquire business skills, to give them seed money to start businesses and to help them attain loans. We shall beembarking on these programmes immediately after our party elections.

We shall organise seminars and youth camps, and bring successful businessmen and women and professional economists to speak on how to start businesses, about which ideas work and which don’t, about how to write business plans, how to raise start-up capital, and how to do book-keeping and manage accounts.

We are establishing teams to lobby banks to set up loans for youth-led Small and Medium Enterprises – boda boda operators, scratchcard vendors, fishmongers, second-hand-clothes dealers and so on. They shouldall be able to access bank loans on easy terms. We are taking this up immediately after our party elections. 

We are setting up teams to help our young people in schools and colleges make good career choices.
At present, there are leaders in this country who cannot tell you what their profession is or where they ever worked. In CORD and ODM, we don’t have that problem.

We are a party of serious professionals and, as well as party members, we shall be bringing in other professionals to talk to our young boys and girls about their plans for the future.

Expect to see me in your schools talking to your children and your brothers and sisters about what it takes to be an engineer. I am not just a politician. I am an engineer. Expect Mutula Kilonzo Junior, his sister Kethi Kilonzo, Otieno Kajwang and Ababu Namwamba in your schools and youth camps during the holidays to talk to your children about what it takes to be a lawyer.

I will bring Dr Agnes Zani over to speak to young people about what it takes for a woman to get a PhD, to be a sociologist and a lecturer. As a sociologist, Dr Zani is an expert on social and family issues, including crime and drug abuse. She will be coming over to discuss family issues with you.

Everyone wants to bring up good, successful families, but sometimes families fail and fall into hardship. This often sees youngsters missing school or getting pregnant, drifting into crime, going to jail and eventually creating further generations of homeless street families.

That is not the way forward for our nation, and we shall talk openly to young people about these issues. Our party and our coalition want to maintain a special relationship with young people. It will be fun, and I invite you to look forward to it.
Just last week, I read the story …… and yes! As any responsible leader should, I DO read the newspapers, so that I am well-acquainted with what people are going through. How can any leader worth his salt say that newspapers – the public record of the hopes and challenges of our nation – are only fit for wrapping meat? 

Anyway, I read the story of a young boy, Martin Obila, who walked from Rarieda to Kakamega High School where he had been admitted. He could not raise the fees, so he went physically to explain himself and secure his place.

I want to salute that young boy for his courage and determination. I want to thank Kakamega High School principal Mr Oliver Minishi for admitting the boy, and I am asking education officials in Siaya County and the MP for Rarieda to take up the boy’s case, if they haven’t already, and pay his fees.

After we defeated Kanu in 2002, we fought hard for the Constituency Development Fund, and for free primary and secondary education. Now, why is any child undergoing what Obila has? And I know Obila is only representative of thousands of others with little hope. We want to change that.

I know some of you are feeling the fire I felt at your age. You are dying to move into politics, to take over, and to push this country forward. We shall support youth in that, too. We shall be creating camps to teach the youth the organisational skills they need in politics. I shall be there personally to take them through some lessons.

So my word to everyone is, don’t give up. Life is not for quitters. CORD and ODM are not for quitters. CORD and ODM are made up of tough men and women who have made it against great odds.

Indeed, this whole COUNTRY has made it to where it is against great odds. And after all that hard work, do we want to see the old Kanu culture – handouts, delegations to State House and people’s homes, begging the government for jobs – to make a comeback?

It is already happening and, if we are not very careful, we shall soon be back to square one.
We can’t allow that to happen. And there is an alternative. Stick with us, stay engaged and we shall change this country together.  
God bless you all.

Raila A Odinga EGH
ODM; CORD Coalition

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Jubilee Government Leading Assault on Rule of Law - Raila Odinga

By Rt. Hon Raila Odinga

Developments around the quick impeachment and then reinstatement of the Governor of the County of Embu Martin Wambora, and now the support of Parliament by the President of the Republic of Kenya against the Judiciary, indicate that the rule of law in Kenya is in tatters.

Kenya is going through a willful, premeditated, deliberate and shameless corruption of the system of justice, with the highest ranks of the Jubilee government supporting this assault on law and order.

We are witnessing unilateral and illegal decisions and statements that show disregard for the separation of powers and a taste for the old ways in which the Judiciary was an extension of the presidency and a tool of the ruling political elite.

It is a continuation of the pattern I warned of in November 2013, that the Jubilee government is determined to bring an end to all autonomous institutions in the country.

A pattern of a return to repression is taking shape. What is being attempted currently is to establish a country of presidential and legislative tyranny, and where no other institution in and out of the government will be allowed a voice.

It is unfortunate that the presidency has now explicitly and publicly endorsed this charade. I don’t agree that the Judiciary is seeking refuge in the doctrine of Separation of Powers.

I believe the alternative to adherence to this doctrine is the law of the jungle where one person can purport to perform the functions of president, judge and parliament at the same time. That is what is called a dictatorship.

I agree that the Judiciary alone cannot serve Kenyans. Neither can the Executive nor the legislature.

But the order of service to Kenyans by these institutions is clearly captured in the doctrine of Separation of Powers and it must be accepted and respected by all.

The understanding among all nations that aspire to democracy is that the Legislature makes the law, the Judiciary interprets the law and the Executive executes the law.

Once Parliament makes a law, the only option for citizens unhappy with it is to go to court. Once the court interprets the law, it is final. The only option is execution.

We are entering a dangerous terrain and I am appealing to the President of Kenya and all the arms of government to decide whether we are going to be governed by the Rule of Law or the law of the jungle. That is why I want to appeal for an immediate end to the mob lynching of the courts.The Court issued an injunction against the impeachment of Governor Wambora until the case he filed was heard and determined.

Mr Wambora had gone to court because he felt his right to be heard and to a fair trial had been breached. Both Houses of Parliament were served with court orders. That order was ignored.

The court last week barred the Senate from summoning governors who had sought an interpretation of the law on the powers of the senators over governors.

The two houses of Parliament have joined ranks in their condemnation of the Judiciary and they have now secured the support of the President.

This is a mob lynching of the court and a shameful display of arrogance to the rule of law by the very people who swore to uphold it. It must stop. We must keep our hands off our courts.

Late last year, we had a case of the President dissolving the Judicial Service Commission and appointing a commission of inquiry to investigate the conduct of members, despite a court order against the process.

The Aron Ringera-led inquiry failed to take off because it needed to be sworn in by the very Judiciary it intended to investigate. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga declined to swear it in.

The National Assembly however proceeded to summon members of the JSC in disregard of the principle of Separation of Powers and the desired independence of the Judiciary. That is how closely we are flirting with the law of the jungle.

We are witnessing the obstruction of justice, which the President and the entire government have sworn the most solemn oath to uphold. These actions are a blatant disregard for judicial independence, and deprive Kenya of its only buffer against chaos.

Last year, we in Cord went to court to challenge the election results. We still maintain that we never got a fair hearing. But we accepted the verdict because the alternative was chaos. If we want the rule of law, we must keep our hands off the courts. The president must take the lead.

The writer is CORD Leader and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Resolutions of the CORD Parliamentary Group Meeting at Great Rift Valley Lodge

We the members of the CORD Parliamentary group meeting at the Great Rift Valley Lodge on the 9th to the 10th of February 2014 hereby resolve as follows: 

  1. That CORD takes great exception to the manner in which the Jubilee administration is handling the ravaging famine situation that has afflicted various parts of the country, particularly Turkana and parts of the Coast region. We are therefore demanding that the jubilee government undertakes expeditious and sustainable measures to alleviate the continued suffering by Kenyans in those regions. 
  2.  That whereas CORD abhors terrorism in all its manifestations, we condemn in the strongest terms possible the reckless, barbaric, irreverent and brutal manner in which the police executed the raid on the Masjid Musa Mosque resulting in unnecessary loss of innocent lives and illegal detention of minors who were in the mosque to partake the free lunch that was on offer on the fateful day. CORD reiterates its sympathies and support for the people of Mombasa and will initiate measures to ensure justice is done and that the police officers who perpetuated the murders are brought to book. 
  3. That CORD is alarmed with the continued and intensified institutionalized corruption in government ranging from the standard gauge railway scandal to the Tassia housing scandal under the watch of the Jubilee administration. It is instructive to note that even the President has acknowledged that his office is infested with corruption yet no measures have been taken to combat the same. We call on the Jubilee administration to urgently take concrete steps to deal with corruption using legitimate and effective state institutions. 
  4. CORD condemns in the strongest terms possible, the insensitive manner in which public secondary schools are randomly increasing school fees without the slightest regard to the plight of bright kids from disadvantaged families. CORD is demanding that urgent corrective measures be instituted immediately and KCSE certificates from poor families withheld since 2007 be released to them forthwith. 
  5. CORD notes that there are significant deficiencies in the constitution that need to be addressed ahead of the next general elections. In this regard radical electoral reforms, including the setting up of a new, credible electoral commission, must be undertaken as part and parcel of addressing the deficiencies in the constitution in a national dialogue to be held as soon as proper arrangements are in place. In the meantime, we call upon the electoral commission to immediately initiate the registration of voters as the registrar of persons issues IDs to all qualified Kenyans. 
  6. That CORD recommits itself to work in parliament as a strong team to defend devolution and ensure good democratic governance at a time when the Jubilee administration is hell bent on rolling back the democratic gains the Kenyan people have won. We strongly condemn the Jubilee Government’s determination to re-introduce the discredited KANU’s authoritarian one party rule of yester years that under developed our country. 
  7. CORD stands in solidarity with the people of South Sudan in their quest for peace, security and good governance as they seek for lasting solutions to the current conflict. CORD calls upon the two parties to the conflict to seek dialogue and inclusiveness in the Democratic dispensation that the citizens will accept.


The Right Hon Raila Odinga
ODM Party Leader 

Hon Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka
WDMPK Party Leader 

Hon Moses Masika Wetangula
FORD KENYA Party Leader

10th February 2014, the Great Rift Valley Lodge - Naivasha