Ruto scuttled Mau resettlement plan, Raila says

Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses a delegation from the South Rift yesterday at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga said Mau Forest eviction victims should blame the DP for leading local politicians to oppose the move by the Grand Coalition government.
  • Leaders from the South Rift led by former minister Sally Kosgei and Governor Alex Tolgos say the ODM leader still has backing in the Rift Valley region.

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga yesterday accused Deputy President William Ruto of inciting settlers in the Mau Complex against the government during the first attempt to resettle them.

Mr Odinga said that as the country’s Prime Minister, he led the process for the reclamation of the forest, with adequate plans to acquire large tracts of land to resettle the victims, but his efforts were thwarted by Dr Ruto who “incited the locals against moving out”.

While promising to storm the region and talk to the people directly, Mr Odinga said Mau Forest eviction victims should blame the DP for leading local politicians to oppose the move by the Grand Coalition government to resettle the evictees.

“I understand the challenges that the people there were facing. Some went to Mau because of lack of land for settlement. But when I was the Prime Minister and President Kenyatta headed the Ministry of Finance, I managed to get donors who were willing to fund the resettlement programme, but they pulled out due to the resistance on the ground,” Mr Odinga said while addressing a delegation from South Rift region at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi.

He pointed out that at the time, the Department for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development, German and the French governments were ready to give funds for the resettlement programme but “politicians seized the opportunity to incite locals against moving out of the water tower.”

“Fitina ya siasa ndio iliharibu hiyo mipango (Political conspiracies frustrated the plans). Shame on them! You are part of the problem and you cannot be part of the solution,” Mr Odinga said.

Recalling how he was viciously fought for spearheading the conservation of the Mau Forest, the ODM leader regretted that policy was sacrificed at the altar of politics, putting the future of Kenyans in jeopardy.

Political war

The conservation of the Mau Complex was a Cabinet decision but President Mwai Kibaki took a low profile on the matter as politicians from the Rift Valley waged a political war against Mr Odinga.

This cost Mr Odinga the vote-rich Rift Valley in the 2013 elections, as Dr Ruto took advantage to lead the region to President Kenyatta, with whom he formed the Jubilee coalition that won the polls.

In 2007, the region, with Dr Ruto firmly in Mr Odinga’s side, had voted almost to a man for the former Prime Minister, whom they had named Arap Mibei (He of the Waters).

Yesterday, Mr Odinga who met a delegation from South Rift led by former Head of Public Service and Cabinet Minister Sally Kosgei, former Minister Paul Sang’, Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Stephen Tarus, promised to address the challenges facing the region.

Dr Kosgei said nothing stops the people of the Rift Valley from voting for Mr Odinga, noting that they have done it in the past.

“I can vouch for Raila because he is as good as his word. We want to be on the ground running and you can count on me,” Dr Kosgei declared.

Mr Tolgos lamented that the Arror, Kimwarer and Itare dams have stalled due to lack of support by Dr Ruto and urged Mr Odinga to resuscitate the projects after he assumes office.

Former Minister Fred Gumo told the Kalenjin community not to follow the DP “blindly as he is the cause of the stalled dam projects and high cost of fertilisers”.

Block all loopholes

“You are the farmers and agriculture is the backbone of this country. If you want to realise meaningful change in the sector, the solution is Raila Odinga,” he said.

Other leaders who addressed the meeting were Kisii Governor James Ongwae, Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi and ODM official Kipkorir Arap Menjo.

Mr Odinga promised that his government will reduce prices of fertiliser and look for market for Kenya’s products.

“Maize farmers have been suffering because the same people in government are the same suppliers of fertilisers; they increase prices at the expense of the innocent farmers,” he said.

He added that the Azimio la Umoja manifesto will spell out his plans for the region.

“Don’t listen to these people who promised laptops for nursery school pupils but are now delivering wheelbarrows. They bragged of being digital, now they are returning Kenyans to pre-analogue,” Mr Odinga said.

He promised to block all loopholes used to engage in corruption and save money for his social protection programme that will see poor families get a monthly stipend of Sh6,000 per month.

“My government will also ensure we build level six hospitals in every region and level five facilities in every county,” Mr Odinga said.