Deputy President William Ruto has pledged to improve the local economy of the pastoral community if elected to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Speaking in Mandera town during an economic forum, Dr Ruto said the region was lagging behind economically due to what he termed as bad leadership.
“North-Eastern and Mandera in particular have the potential to grow economically but due to bad leadership and political instability we are in this bad situation that I am very keen on pulling you out of it,” he said.
The area that has pastoralism as its economic activity will see local meat processing industries set up for income generation and job creation.
He said the region needs to have well-established abattoirs so that the local meat can be processed and exported.
“We are here to agree on what we shall do to ensure we have disease-free zones for our livestock and many abattoirs so that we stop incurring losses on our local products,” he said.
DP Ruto said the region has a potential for the establishment of tanneries for shoes to be produced locally from the hides and skins.
“We need to start having our own locally produced shoes from all the hides and skin we are throwing away. My government will focus on ensuring no animal product goes to waste because we want to build our economy,” he said.
He added, “We import 12 million pairs of shoes every year in this country and yet we have the raw material to make the shoes. The time has come for us to start producing the same footwear from our own local products”.
In crop production, Dr Ruto said his government was keen on establishing irrigation schemes in the semi-arid region of North Eastern.
He warned that he will not give room to political detractors to interfere with his development agenda for the republic.
“We have political detractors like those who interfered with our Big Four agenda and I want to assure you that I will not put them into my government,” he said.
He said the opposition leader Raila Odinga and his team duped President Uhuru Kenyatta only to completely interfere with the Jubilee government development plan.
“They pretended that they wanted peace and tranquillity only for our government to lose focus and forget about the Big Four plan. I will not allow them to cause the same confusion in my government,” he said.
The Deputy President promised to enter into a political agreement with residents of Mandera and North Eastern to ensure all his pledges were fulfilled.
He took a swipe at Governor Ali Roba accusing him of ditching him after being threatened by the national government agencies.
“So many of your leaders here in Mandera are my friends but they ran away from me because they were threatened with court cases. They are now in a political asylum because they fear being arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
DP Ruto reiterated that it will not be easy for anybody to rig him or anybody else in the August 9, elections.
“I am the deputy president of the Republic of Kenya. There is no way anybody will rig the coming elections because I understand everything,” he said.
According to DP Ruto, the formula used in forming the government in 2013 and 2017 is the same formula he will use in the August elections.
“You people know very well. I have been with you all through. How will Raila steal my votes? The way we won in 2013 and 2017 is the same way I will win in August,” he said.
The DP began his tour of North Eastern in Garissa county on Monday before crossing into Wajir on Tuesday.
He held the Mandera economic forum Tuesday evening and he is expected to hold rallies in Mandera East, Mandera South (Elwak) and Mandera West (Takaba) before crossing into Moyale, Marsabit county.
Mr Noor Ali Aden, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) gubernatorial candidate in Mandera urged his presidential candidate to ensure the area’s infrastructure is improved.
“We are faced with challenges in the security sector, education and poor infrastructure. We are hopeful that your government will fix all these so that we can feel like being part of Kenya,” Mr Aden said.