Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flagbearer Raila Odinga was yesterday hawking political goodies in Busia County as he intensified campaigns in the hunt for Western Kenya’s two million votes.
The former Prime Minister also poked holes in Deputy President William Ruto’s land repossession plan in Coast, saying it was a scheme to “sell his land back to the government” in order to make super profits.
While addressing the historical land injustices in Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta recently, Dr Ruto said he would introduce a fund to resettle squatters, should he win the August 9 General Election.
“Historically, colonial rulers introduced the Land Fund that was used to partition and exploit indigenous land. This was not a good thing because it exposed our people in Coast to historical injustices,” said Mr Odinga. “Stop playing with the minds of Kenyans, because it is you who said that Kenya is short of fools,” he added.
The Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s charm offensive in the five counties of Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and Trans Nzoia over the last few months has blown the race wide open in the region.
Mr Odinga pledged to revive the ailing sugar sector that has seen many households wallowing in poverty and boost the blue economy, which supports many families in counties around Lake Victoria. He also promised to tarmac all major roads in Busia.
Also Read: Why ODM may not field a candidate in Bondo
He assured locals that he would reach out to President Yoweri Museveni to release some 20 Kenyan fishermen who are detained in Uganda after they were arrested while fishing in Lake Victoria.
“I held talks with President Museveni last week. I didn’t know our people were detained there. I’ll ask him to release them because fish in the lake does not belong to anyone,” he said, adding that he would spearhead inter-regional dialogue between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania so that the Lake does not become a source of conflict.
He vowed to revive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and initiate an industry in each of the 47 counties through his ‘One County, One Product’ programme for value addition and job creation.
“Our focus is to ensure that all contents of the BBI are implemented to cushion Kenyans from economic woes. We want Kenyans to lead a quality life. My government will also ensure that the cost of common commodities, including sugar, flour, cooking oil and fuel are lowered,” said Mr Odinga.
The Azimio leader highlighted health, education and social protection as key focus areas under his administration. He said under Baba Care, all public health facilities will be equipped with adequate drugs and Kenyans will access health services free of charge.
Mr Odinga also said his government will offer free education programme from pre-primary level to university. “We want our children to access quality and equal education so that they can favorably compete for good jobs; not working with wheelbarrows,” he said.
As the issue of zoning continues to raise temperatures in Azimio, activist Okiya Omtatah, who is vying for the Busia senatorial seat on National Reconstruction Alliance party, urged the electorate to focus on individuals.
Also Read: Raila readies for Kalonzo Musyoka return
While addressing stakeholders during an Economic Forum, Mr Odinga had called for a “six-piece voting pattern” in favour of ODM party.
“Our interest in Azimio is the presidential seat. That is why we came together to support Baba so that he succeeds President Kenyatta and form the next government. Other seats should be competitive so that the electorate can make their own choices based on the records of the aspirants,” said Mr Omtatah.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna added: “We are seeking ODM votes and other parties should work for their own aspirants. Raila can work for all the parties in Azimio.”
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya urged Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi and ODM gubernatorial candidate Paul Otuoma to drop their party interests and identify one of them to fly the Azimio ticket.
“As Azimio executive officials, we are concerned that should the two compete for the seat, we are likely to lose it to our opponents in Kenya Kwanza. Let Mulomi and Otuoma swallow their personal interests and give us one strong aspirant who will bring the Busia seat,” said Mr Oparanya.
Other leaders accompanying Mr Odinga were Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, ODM chairman John Mbadi and former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi.
MPs Godfrey Odanga (Matayos), Joseph Oyula (Butula) and Oundo Mudenyo (Funyula) and Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) also attended.