Meeting stamps Raila role in State affairs

Thursday, May 21st, 2020 00:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses the press in Nairobi, yesterday. With him are women leaders (from left) Florence Mutua, Rose Buyu, Charity Ngilu, Margaret Kobia, Rachael Shebesh, Anne Waiguru and Priscilla Nyokabi. Photo/PD/BErnard Orwongo

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The country was yesterday presented with a glimpse of what the political future looks like when opposition chief Raila Odinga hosted women leaders led by Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia at his Capitol Hill offices.

Although the meeting lasted barely two hours, it was loaded with political significance with all indications showing that his 2018 March Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta was starting to bear fruit.

Other women leaders who attended the meeting included governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh. 

Gender Commission chairperson Priscilla Nyokabi, Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua and her Kisumu counterpart Rosa Buyu also attended the meeting.

 “These women of power have come to see me on the issue of gender equality, issues of people living with disabilities, and so on...” Raila said outside his office. 

Involve women

Yesterday’s meeting was an indication that Raila is poised to play a critical in government affairs after the Corona pandemic, with Kobia indicating that they will continue consulting him on key issues.

“Women need to be included in leadership and decision making, economic empowerment, peace and security building,” said Kobia. 

Raila has been hosting Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, governors, diplomats and other high-ranking government officials at his offices where he is often briefed on ongoing programmes. 

The Orange Democratic Movement party leader assured Kenyans that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) final report will be unveiled soon, saying that it will herald a new dawn for Kenyans. 

 “As you know, drafting of the final document is at a very advanced stage and the concerns raised by this team will ensure that issues affecting women are actually captured in the final report which is going to be released shortly,” he said. 

 Raila’s profile has been on the rise since the Handshake with President Uhuru on the steps of Harambee House, which brought a political truce in the country— catching their supporters and close allies by surprise. 

The BBI report is expected to change the governance structure by reintroducing the position of Prime Minister and the office of Official Leader of Opposition, among others. 

Although it was touted as a solution to problems plaguing the country, a section of leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto have questioned its intentions saying it meant to lock him out of the 2022 presidential race. 

 The ODM leader’s influence has since grown tenfold especially within government circles and yesterday’s meeting was a pointer of things to come particularly on the direction the country is going to take in terms of governance.

Yesterday’s meeting comes in the wake of a brutal purge targeting DP Ruto’s allies in Senate and the National Assembly with Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen having already lost his Majority Leader’s position. 

 He was replaced by West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio (Kanu) in changes that also saw Susan Kihika (Nakuru) losing her Majority Chief Whip position which went to Irungu Kanga’ta (Murang’a). Focus now turns to deputy speaker Prof Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi) with a motion to strip him of his position to be debated tomorrow. 

“President Kenyatta and myself did agree that we want to bring the country together, to bring the people of Kenya to think as one people,” he said. 

Raila said they were determined to deal with negative ethnicity by restoring inclusivity in governance once and for all. According to him, national cohesion; peace and unity formed the foundation of the handshake and the BBI taskforce. 

“We need to address these issues so that our country can achieve and realise its potential. So that we can realise the Kenyan dream as coined by our founding fathers which talks of a God fearing nation where justice is our shield and defender,” said the ODM leader. 

“Where we live in unity, peace and liberty; where plenty is found within our borders,” he said, adding: “Plenty will come through the sweat and toil of our people but it will not happen when half of the population is excluded from nation building.” 

The former premier said BBI will ensure that the country becomes an inclusive society “that makes use of all its potential which is available in the society.” 

Yesterday, Raila called on Kenyans to join hands in the rebuilding efforts once Coronavirus is gone; noting that the country was currently battling three disasters; locusts, floods and coronavirus pandemic. 

Add gains

 “Many of our industries are not working because of the partial lockdown and even farmers are not working. The post Covid-19 period is going to be a very major challenge for our country,” he said. 

 Raila urged Kenyans to come together saying only unity of purpose is going to get the country and the economy back on track. “It is not going to be easy. We must think together and mobilise both human and material resources to bring the country back on its feet.” 

 “It will require cooperation and participation of each one of us,” he said, assuring those who have lost loved their loved ones to floods and coronavirus that they have not been forgotten. 

“We feel for them and we want to assure them that we think of them,” he added. 

Noting that the country has made great strides in terms of gender equality, Prof Kobia said that there was need to safeguard these gains “and even add more” in the BBI report.

“We particularly came to support and congratulate you because you came together with the President championing the unity of the country,” she said.

As a country, we have already achieved a lot of gains which need to be protected and also add to these gains, Kobia said, adding that she was concerned with the rising cases of domestic violence during this coronavirus period. 

 She said there has been a 30 per cent spike in domestic violence in the country in the last few months

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