Raila Odinga dismisses President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on graft, terror

Raila Odinga addresses media in Nairobi. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA POLITICS HEADSHOT)

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Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rattled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration over what he said was a cosmetic fight against corruption and cluelessness in the fight against terror. In a dual attack on the President and his policies, Raila lashed out at the powerful Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Anne Waiguru and termed her ministry as “the most consistent stumbling block to devolution”.

The former Prime Minister, who is a co-leader of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy, said Waiguru’s docket under which the National Youth Service falls, stands accused of “dishing out overpriced contracts to political mercenaries”. In a surprise twist, the CORD leader offered to take President Kenyatta, the Commander-in-Chief of Kenya’s military, to Northern Kenya and the Coast where the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants have been lodging their strikes — just in case the President is afraid that the militants will strike while he is touring the hotspots.

The jibe at Uhuru on his anti- corruption and security policies, and the one on Waiguru comes hot on the heels of an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department into a Sh800 million scandal, amid claims that an official password was stolen. “It is laughable that the Cabinet Secretary, caught out in shady deals by the Central Bank of Kenya, proceeded to spin a yarn of lies about saving hundreds of millions of shillings,” said Raila in a hard-hitting brief as he called for a “thorough independent forensic audit at the NYS”.

Raila said the probe should not just focus on the missing millions but also extend to the recruitment, training manual and gender, ethnic and regional composition of its recruits. “With its multiplicity of shady contracts and projects that pose a threat to national security, this department has posed the most consistent stumbling block to devolution, let alone the dishing out of overpriced contracts to political mercenaries,” said Raila.

As Raila railed about corruption and insecurity in the country, State House and Waiguru, the Cabinet Secretary, shot back with terse answers that action was being taken. The Jubilee top officers were riled that the Opposition leader was raising the embers at a time when his colleague Kalonzo Musyoka was spotted standing shoulder-to-shoulder with suspended Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu in a courtroom where Ngilu was facing charges of obstructing corruption investigations.

“What we have heard and read in that statement is the usual gibberish from Raila Odinga. It is too much rhetoric. What can he look back to as an achievement when he was in the second-highest office in the land as Prime Minister? The maize scandal and the theft of the money for Kazi kwa Vijana?” Munyori Buku, a Senior Director of Public Communication at State House, posed. Waiguru refused to get into an exchange with the CORD leader. She said it was wrong for Raila to say she was spinning the whole episode about the multimillion scandal at the NYS, because the letters into the probe “speak”.

“I am not a politician, so I’d rather not respond to that. Look at the letters, they are very clear,” said Waiguru who yesterday morning uploaded the June 5 letter she had written to the Director of Criminal Investigation Ndegwa Muhoro asking him to lodge investigations into the theft of the password of a top official at the NYS. Nothing to hide The Devolution CS welcomed the investigation into the NYS and said there was nothing to hide. Her view was that there were political operators unhappy with the projects that NYS had done and were looking for an opportunity to “tarnish its name”.

“It is clear that the agenda out there is to tarnish the name of the programme because of the impact it has had. If anyone wants an investigation, we have absolutely nothing to hide. The audits are done every year by an independent institution and if anyone else wants any other investigation done, we welcome it,” said Waiguru. But for Raila, the whole fight against corruption is a “legally dubious public relations gimmick”. “While the administration is fond of making high-sounding speeches against corruption, it is now clear that total impunity attends to it,” said Raila, who pointed an accusing finger at the anti- corruption authority and the State Law office for what he claims is colluding to clear corrupt public servants.

Apart from Ngilu, Transport CS Michael Kamau is another from Uhuru’s Cabinet who has been charged in court. Cabinet Secretaries Davis Chirchir (Energy) and Felix Koskey (Agriculture) have been cleared by the EACC while Labour CS Kazungu Kambi is still under investigation. The CORD leader added: “It is getting clear that the President is trading the interests of the people of Kenya for political support. The only people the President is keen to act against are those who will not affect the tribal political dynamics on which his presidency rests.

This is evident from the results of the just concluded investigations. Only the politically dispensable individuals are being charged.” However, State House said the President cannot direct courts or the independent institutions on how to do their job. Munyori noted that the presidential dossier to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had 175 names, and it was upon the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, the courts and the EACC to find the veracity of the allegations. “The President did what he had to do. It is upon the institutions concerned to take it forward.

Kenyans should now begin auditing these institutions. People have been taken to court, more are under investigations, what is Raila’s issue? Has he been sleeping over the past 90 days?” posed Munyori in a conversation with The Standard on Sunday. Majority Leader of the National Assembly Aden Duale also dismissed the opposition leader, saying Raila should not claim credit for the new Constitution on one hand, and on the other abandon a government policy to keep Kenyans safe that he supported when he was in power.

“The Constitution is the fruit of many farmers who planted the seed and they did it for God and country. They therefore see no need to mount the rooftops to proclaim it,” said the Majority Leader. About insecurity, Munyori said Raila has been “flip-flopping” given that he was in the regime that in the first place took the Kenyan military to Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab. He said the government will pursue the policy of crushing the militants in Kenya and in Somalia to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens.

Raila’s problem was that the fight against insecurity was so dependent on technology instead of winning the hearts and minds of the people. “Devoid of a strategy to deal with either corruption or terrorism, the Jubilee administration has now become the primary driver of spreading insecurity in Kenya. Wherever the government goes — be it in the form of leaders, security agencies or bureaucrats — insecurity deepens. This is an indictment the Kenyan state cannot afford.

Vacuous speeches, hash tags, deepening repression and undermining the spirit and letter of our new Constitution cannot fight terrorism and corruption,” said Odinga. Munyori retorted: “He was in government in 2011 when we went to Somalia. When he left government, what have we been hearing? ‘Let’s get out of Somalia…let’s talk to Al-Shabaab. This administration is clear that the war on terror will be fought in Kenya and in Somalia.

The fight has not been won yet, but we are winning. The Railas can continue making their noise, but the goal is to keep Kenya safe.” But as Odinga spoke, the country’s workers union slammed the Opposition for double-speak, accusing its leaders of supporting those implicated in graft and vowed to back President Kenyatta’s fight against corruption.

The Secretary General of Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), Mr Francis Atwoli, said Kalonzo’s presence with Ngilu in court on Friday amounted to political interference in a judicial process. “When the government is hesitant to take people to court, CORD leaders are in the forefront in lamenting over such moves. They should allow the judicial process to take its full course,” said Atwoli.

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