Maa community leaders back Raila State House bid
Christine Musa and Rawlings Otieno
Members of the Maa community have asked ODM leader Raila Odinga to address land issues affecting them if elected President in next year’s General Election.
Residents of Kajiado, Narok, Samburu, Laikipia and Nakuru also asked the former premier to tackle historical injustices, poverty, restoration of the environment, marginalisation and human-wildlife conflict.
“We are sure you will become the next President of Kenya. We are going to the grassroots to marshal support for your presidency bid,” said Narok Senator Ledama Lekina.
He added: “When you become the President promote the Maa to be on top leadership and assist our economy to thrive.
We want the issues of land leases revisited so that we pursue the legal process of fighting the historical injustices. There is no other leader who will help us do that rather than Raila.”
Raila, who hosted a delegation of leaders from the communities in Kajiado, said he remained focused on long-term solutions that would lift the Maasai and other pastoralist communities from cycles of drought, floods, famine and marginalisation.
“We must be unapologetic in preserving our water towers like the Mau and the Aberdares and planting more trees to raise our forest cover.
In the interest of pastoralists, we must preserve and protect the environment,” said Raila who is credited with the restoration of the Mau which ended up antagonising him with the Kalenjin community; most of who were evicted from the forest.
Raila told the delegation that while he and retired President Mwai Kibaki rallied Kenyans to pass the 2010 Constitution so that marginalised counties get devolved units, others including Deputy President William Ruro Ruto opposed the move.
“We are all concerned about historical and current marginalisation of some parts of Kenya and the Maasai.
That is why we came up with counties in the 2010 Constitution which others opposed. It is the reason we will continue to push for more funds to counties,” he said.
He said that had the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) gone through, financial allocation to Kajiado County would have risen by Sh6.3 billion to Sh12.8 billion from the current Sh6.4billion, allocation to Narok would rise by Sh5 billion from the current Sh8 billion to Sh13 billion while Samburu’s would rise by about Sh2 billion, from the current Sh4.6 billion to Sh6.5billion.
“Those billions that are on the verge of being denied to the Maa nation would work wonders in providing basics like water, dispensaries, hides and skins factories, slaughter houses, schools and roads,” said Raila.
While wooing the Maa community support, Raila explained that the Maasai lands are part and parcel of his administration plan to transform rural Kenya.
“You are part and parcel of our plan for massive investment in rural infrastructure of access roads, reliable electricity, decent housing, clean water and good public schools.
You are part of our plan for creation of rural cottage industries. We must provide Maasai lands with reliable, efficient and quality health care services and provide efficient veterinary services,” he said.
He added: “ We must help the community access abattoirs and markets for their livestock and livestock products if we are to lift them out of poverty.”
Speaking at Ong’ata Rongai yesterday, Maa leaders declared they will campaign for Raila at the grassroot sto help him clinch the big seat.
Led by the Maa spokesperson Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, the leaders said Raila is proven and tested in fighting for the rights of the community; citing the case of the Mau forest conservation and addressing past historical land injustices.
Others at the meeting were Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, Narok Senator ole Kina, Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi, former National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo and Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko.
Others were former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna.
They lamented that had the BBI which was spearheaded by the President and Raila not flopped, the community would have benfitted a lot.
Trust of the Maasai
Several leaders took a swipe at DP Ruto, accusing him of disrespecting President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“As a Jubilee family, which has a majority of seats in this county, we appreciate the bold decision of Handshake between our party leader and former Premier.
We are here to support Raila in uniting this country because every Kenyan is interested in the cohesion,” said a statement read by Governor Lenku.
“As Maa nation we have decided that our votes will no longer be treated as swing votes and we are putting a road-map, to ensure we vote as a bloc to make us politically relevant.
What has been oppressing our development is sharp divisions among ourselves,” he said.
CS Tobiko said the Maa nation will not elect leaders involved in massive corruption and activities that marginalise the community, saying Raila had earned the trust of the Maasai.
“As a public servant, I am here by right and as a Maa leader to guide our community on political decision making.
We are here to endorse the partnership between the Maa nation and Raila, because even civil servants cannot be there without the government,” said CS Tobiko
“ We want to look at the bigger picture of having leaders who are not out to loot public coffers,” said Memusi.
“We want and we pray for our fair share from the Jubilee government. The Handshake will help to help us as a community to get several commission positions that are currently vacant,” said Peris.