PRESS STATEMENT BY HON. RAILA ODINGA, NASA PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE;
JULY 4, 2017.
OUR PLAN FOR KIAMBU COUNTY:
One of our main messages over the past four years and going into the election in August is inclusion and economic empowerment. We have spoken repeatedly of the commitment of NASA to building a strong and united country in which everyone feels respected. That commitment is and will remain strong and enduring.
Yesterday, I was honoured to receive into our fold a number of people from Kiambu, including Members of County Assembly who decided to join us on the strength of our promise for the country and the understanding of the tribulations and aspirations of citizens of the great county of Kiambu.
We are shortly heading out to Kiambu this morning and I just wanted to share some highlights of our plan for this region.
At the moment, Kenyans I am are undergoing many tribulations. With just a month to go before the election, people are still lining up for unga, and that is happening across the entire country. The cost of living has skyrocketed, putting families’ basic necessities out of many people’s reach.
Kiambu County remains a good place from which to see the potential, promise, resilience and frustrations of our people and what can be achieved if the government gets its priorities right and rolls out people-centred social and economic policies.
Kiambu has always produced a lot of milk. I am very pleased to say that even as cartels have taken over so much of agricultural pricing, one institution in the milk industry is still standing strong – the Githunguri Dairies Cooperative Society. Githunguri Dairies has defied all odds in the market and has continued to serve members faithfully and diligently thus allowing many families in Kiambu to take their children to school and to provide jobs for residents.
I must pay tribute to the managers of this cooperative society for their focus and dedication to their members.
Despite the best efforts of the cooperative, its earnings to the farmers have stagnated while farm inputs have gone up and consumer prices risen sharply. This is something we have to confront. Everywhere across the world, farmers are never left to struggle on their own. Our commitment is to ensure quality and affordable farm inputs, seeds and fertilizers are available closer to the farmers. Establish Cooperatives in particular have played a great role in uplifting their members’ lives and that is an area we need to strengthen. We paid great attention to this area with Joe Nyagah who was my Minister for Cooperatives in the grand coalition government. In our manifesto, we have promised to establish a Cooperative Enterprise Development Fund (CEDF) to promote agro-processing jointly with farmers organized under cooperatives. There is no reason why the Githunguri Dairies Cooperative Society would not be among the first to benefit from this fund when we take over.
We also need to encourage the great tradition of women chamas which have enabled so many to start and grow small businesses.
Kiambu and the Mt Kenya region, along with Kericho and other areas, have the most efficient smallholder farms producing the world’s best tea. And the coffee from Kiambu was also the best in the world. These two cash crops used to earn us billions of dollars with which we used to pay our external debts.
In our manifesto, we have paid special attention to the need to revive these two sectors and to ensure that it is the farmers who are the primary beneficiaries of their production.
We are committed to revitalizing the coffee and tea sectors. Full liberalization of the coffee sector is part of the NASA plan, in addition to helping farmers find markets while also writing off debts owed. We will also explore strict methods of promoting more value addition local processing of coffee so that Kenya’s coffee can be sold to Starbucks as a finished Kenyan brand product.
Other than involvement in agriculture, Kiambu people are known for their business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. We harness this potential.
We want to facilitate trade between our people by shift focus of infrastructural development to county and rural roads which have been neglected over the last four years. We also intend to implement a mass transit project interconnecting all counties. Traders from Kiambu should be able to rich Kisumu or Kisii in the morning and return to Kiambu in the evening if they so feel like.
We will devote our fullest attention to eradicating the cancer of corruption that is destroying the fabric of our society. One reason the cost of unga and so many essential commodities is so high is because of what now has become an unprecedented corruption under the Jubilee government.
Corruption is also making it very difficult for people to engage in business.
Our war on corruption is a war for a better Kenya.
Another area that we have highlighted in our manifesto is the need to improve security which I know is one of the great concerns in in Kiambu County because of its proximity to Nairobi. Our approach in NASA does not merely entail building police stations and deploying officers in communities but addressing the development gaps that leave so many people despondent and lead them to crime and drunkenness.
As president, I will ensure that every Kenyan is safe in whichever part of Kenya they live
In all these efforts, our greatest focus will be on our youth. They constitute the majority of our population, and they have immense energy which we must tap in order to take our nation forward. The reality, however, is that the youth face hardships that are unprecedented. There are very few jobs that are open for the hundreds of thousands who leave school every year and the youth unemployment rate is nearly 40 percent. That is why they fall back on illicit brews and criminal gangs not only in Kiambu but across the nation.
In the end, all these efforts will come to nothing if we do not pull together as one people building one nation. I remain extremely committed to building a nation in which any Kenyan can live, do business and own property in any part of the country. That is why national unity is the first item in the NASA manifesto. We mean it.
It has always been my dream to follow in the footsteps of true nationalist Kenyans and have never felt that any one community is better than or inferior to the other. I hold strong convictions about inclusion, about integrity, about democracy and about the need for a leader to pay the fullest attention to the needs of ordinary Kenyans.
We are a great people and a great country. In spite of poor leadership we have managed to do so many wonderful things together even as we have faced numerous disasters and challenges. With good pro-people leadership which mobilizes the energy of our youths, our women, and of course our men, this country would become the envy of the rest of the continent.
Kiambu County continues to be central — in fact, indispensable — to prosperity and progress in our country. When Kiambu is strong and empowered, it can help advance opportunity and empowerment not only for its residents but for people across the entire nation. We will lay ground for Kiambu to prosper and uplift Kenya.
Thank you all.