Raila: We must unite to create wealth, not use poverty as a political tool

Raila: We must unite to create wealth, not use poverty as a political tool

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga has asked the country to come together and achieve the unity intended in his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta as the 2022 general election race heats up. Odinga, speaking in Nakuru County during the launch of ‘Azimio la Umoja’, said continued political rivalry would only serve to further dampen the economy. He termed Kenya as “several countries in one” saying a section of her citizens are doing extremely well while others are suffering, even unable to access basics. Raila noted that the tea, coffee, pyrethrum, wheat, maize, sugarcane, and livestock sectors are experiencing challenges, adding that the country is also not generating enough jobs to absorb the population. “Some of these problems have become fodder for drumming up of chauvinistic and xenophobic political support. As we head into 2022, these problems have become tools for emotional and irrational appeals,” he said. “A section of leaders is taking advantage of rather than address the problems. It is clear that these problems will persist well beyond 2022, unless we begin addressing them today.” The former Prime Minister also said the Kenyan government needs to establish a fair tax regime so as to promote investment and not punish it. “We need to build a nation where leaders exist to serve people and not lord over them. A nation where meritocracy shall replace mediocrity and nepotism. A country with zero tolerance to corruption,” he said. “In our own small way, we must start that conversation. We must start talking about how to ensure elections are not about government but governance. A country where elections are not death traps.” Raila said political leaders representing various regions with various problems must come together to one table to find lasting solutions. “Our society is diverse, divided and complex. No single man or woman can be our sole messiah. We therefore have no option but to build inclusive political processes. We must therefore urgently embark on uniting, not dividing our people. Not pitting people against each other. Not pitting the poor against the rich, the young against the old, one faith against the other, tribe against tribe,” stated the ODM boss. “That would be a strong recipe for a violent competition for political power. Kenya cannot afford another era of election violence. Kenya is too divided to be splintered any further.” He further sought to add that opposing political leaders must forgive each other and shake hands for the sake of unity in the country. “We must unite to create wealth instead of using poverty as a political tool and unemployment as fodder for electioneering. We have to create a culture of forgiveness and not vindictiveness. We believe that to forgive is to be a leader,” said Raila. “The times require that we proceed with the tradition of unclenching of our fists and shaking of hands even with bitter opponents if it serves the nation. The challenges require that we continue with the tradition of making compromises, coalitions and alliances for the sake of the nation.” He added: “Going into 2022, we must cleanse the land of the spirit of anger and bitterness, the spirit of revenge and entitlement and continue on a path that reconciles, unites, calms and stabilizes the nation.”

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