What you need to know:
- With a Mr Odinga win, this country and its 58-year-old institutions will witness a return to a system where things work.
- The Sh6,000 social protection programme that will at once lift almost two million families out of abject poverty is in place and will be among the very first ones to be rolled out.
With 10 days to the August 9 General Election, this country is set to experience one of the most historic and monumental episodes in its election calendar.
The question Kenyans are faced with at the ballot in the next 10 days is whether to reintroduce the Kanu-era style of politics through a man nurtured, tutored and conditioned by one of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes, or elect a man who suffered in the hands of this very regime and emerged to stand in the gap for millions of Kenyans who have over the years yearned for a reset of this country.
I have known Raila Odinga for close to 17 years
My first encounter with Mr Odinga was in 2005 when we flew in a chopper to far-flung Moyale and later back to Garissa, at the height of the push for a constitutional referendum.
Clasping my video camera (I was doubling up as a cameraman and reporter), I had the opportunity to listen in to his stories aboard the aircraft.
Since then, we have had a long-standing father-son, employee-friend relationship with Mzee, as we normally refer to him.
Since then, I have had the privilege of working for this man in various capacities until he rewarded me by appointing me as his press secretary.
Mr Odinga is a gentle giant, a man who pays a lot of attention to detail and has this amazing ability to “pack” ideas and compartmentalise them.
You may share with him an idea and he then remarks: “Let’s try it in the next year.”
And true to his word, you will wake up one fine morning and hear or watch him on TV improving on the idea you gave him with clarity and style you’ve never witnessed before.
Someone reading this article may be persuaded to believe that because I am Mr Odinga’s press secretary, my view of this man could be subjective.
I cannot fault them but then, there is so much at stake in the next 10 days that my personal submission about this man is not only timely but crucial to the country.
In the next 10 days, this country stands a chance to witness a re-awakening, a chance for its people to feel that they belong to a country that has pursued governance at most times without their input.
With a Mr Odinga win, this country and its 58-year-old institutions will witness a return to a system where things work.
A system where those charged with the responsibility of running the affairs of the state on behalf of those who elected them into office are held to account.
Mr Odinga is more particular about at least four major undertakings that have formed most of his private and public engagements with his think tanks and politicos, at times giving me a rare glimpse into an Odinga presidency.
Baba Care/ social welfare
I have had the opportunity to accompany Mzee to late meetings at the Holy Saints Cathedral for fundraisers where families are torn between clearing hospital bills, including morgue bills, and surviving after the departure of their loved ones.
Mzee always says, after making his contribution – which he says must not be publicised: “It is painful to raise one million shillings for medical and mortuary bills and remain with nothing for use as a family; there is something very wrong with our country and we must fix it.”
The introduction of Baba Care, which is very dear to his heart, is one of his key undertakings.
A plan to first digitise all level-four and level-five hospitals and the introduction of internet connectivity across the sub-county hospitals to enable medical practitioners to exchange patient diagnoses over the internet, cutting down on the cost of travel for patients and equipping the facilities with medical supplies is top on his agenda.
The Sh6,000 social protection programme that will at once lift almost two million families out of abject poverty is in place and will be among the very first ones to be rolled out.
Mr Odinga has repeatedly said that increasing the county allocation from a minimum of 15 to 35 per cent is one step in expanding the economic space, injecting financial capital into the economy and as a result accelerating economic and purchasing power.
Having more resources at the county level and putting them into prudent use will stem the unforgiving levels of poverty in our country.
Police and teachers’ reforms
Mr Odinga keeps arguing that a country that treats its police force well and one that takes care of its teaching force stands to gain from a responsible/responsive and more enlightened society.
Reforms to turn the police force into service – the first contact between a government and the people – is also top on Mr Odinga’s to-do-list.
A review of the collective bargain agreement between teachers’ representatives and the Teachers Service Commission is also central to Mr Odinga’s first 100 days in office.
I will not dwell much on the monster that has eaten so much into the moral fabric of the Kenyan state: corruption.
Mr Odinga has pronounced himself on this matter several times and time will prove that his was not just some empty talk.
Finally, the place of women in Mr Odinga’s administration is guaranteed.
For the years I have worked/consulted for the former prime minister, I have no doubt that he has a very soft spot for women, especially single mothers and widows.
Over and over, he has remarked privately and publicly that if we don’t take care of our women, we are raising a generation that doesn’t care or appreciate where mankind has come from and where mankind is headed to.
We have a perfect opportunity to elect a man who has worked and fought for millions of Kenyans.
Let us reset our country to its factory settings, a country where justice is our shield and defender, where there is plenty within our borders, and plenty not just for a chosen corrupt few, but for all of us.
Join me, and together let us take advantage of this historic moment to vote for the historic Raila Amolo Odinga and save the country.
We may never get another chance!
Mr Onsarigo is the Press Secretary, Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign. [email protected]