In a speech at a corporation gala, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has revisited the 2008/09 Kazi Kwa Vijana which was looted by corrupt officials in the line ministries which were carrying out the programme.
SPEECH BY THE RT. HON. RAILA ODINGA AT THE PMD GALA FUNCTION
Your Excellency, Hon Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka,
Hon. Jacob Macharia, MP Molo,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here among young men and women of such honored repute to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Pitchface Marketing Division’s presence in Kenya’s corporate world. In less than a decade of existence, PMD has managed to establish itself in eleven counties, managing over 3,000 young people, who each earn at least 15 dollars a day. This is no mean feat by any standard.
I am particularly appreciative of this effort because I know very well how hard young people are struggling to break out of the shackles of poverty and unemployed in Kenya.
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. I was well aware of the problems of joblessness and poverty when I joined government in 2008 as Prime Minister, and that was the reason one of my first priorities was to initiate the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme. Then, in June 2011, I introduced subsidized 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 â€“ 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 shops where the less economically able could buy basic commodities at cheaper prices.
Kazi Kwa Vijana, popularly 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 labor-intensive jobs, was rolled out to target those with less education â€“ 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 nationâ€™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 nor the will to stop this, or how to cushion the poor. Nor do they seem to care.
So what are we doing as the Opposition? We have a plan. Today, I lay before you what it is, what we have done so far and what we hope to achieve in the next two years.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how the Apostles came across a poor, crippled beggar, and Peter told him: â€œSilver 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.â€ CORD did not form the government. In ODM, we donâ€™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 under the county governments to help you progress.
In the 2012/13 campaign, we promised to help young people acquire business skills, to give them seed money to start businesses and to help them attain loans. We embarked on these programmes immediately after the elections and have been organizing seminars and youth camps, and have brought successful businessmen and women and professional economists to speak on how to start businesses, about which ideas work and which donâ€™t, about how to write business plans, how to raise start-up capital, and how to do book-keeping and manage accounts. I have visited various institutions of higher learning in Kenya on this initiative and plan to continue with these efforts to empower our youth.
We are establishing teams to lobby banks to set up loans for youth-led Small and Medium Enterprises â€“ boda boda operators, scratchcard vendors, fishmongers, second-hand-clothes dealers and so on. They should all be able to access bank loans on easy terms. We continue to pursue this and hope to make breakthroughs in the near future.
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 donâ€™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. John Mbadi is a finance expert. Johnstone Muthama, an accomplished businessman. Expect seniors such as the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Sen Moses Wetangula accompanied by Mutula Kilonzo Junior, his sister Kethi Kilonzo, Hassan Omar 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.
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 the youth in that, too. We shall be creating opportunities to impart upon the youth the organizational skills they need in politics. I shall be there personally to take them through some lessons.
So my word to everyone is, donâ€™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 â€“ handouts, delegations to State House and peopleâ€™s homes, begging the government for jobs â€“ to make a comeback?
It is already happening and, if we are not very careful, we shall soon be back to square one.
We canâ€™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, God bless Kenya!
The Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH.
Saturday, June 13th, 2015.