Raila keen to tap university students’ support for referendum
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief Raila Odinga has rolled out a campaign seeking to tap university students to drive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Raila’s move seeks to counter Deputy President William Ruto’s “hustler narrative.”
Raila yesterday held a meeting with former and current university students, under the Kenya University Students’ Organisation in Nairobi, where he pitched a strong case for BBI and persuaded the youths to be its ambassadors and to reject what he described as “retrogressive ideas of wheelbarrow donations as a way of liberating the young generation economically.”
“I am giving you a challenge to rescue this country from those who want to destroy. That is why we start with BBI, which lays a good foundation for that,” Raila said.
The ODM leader said the young people stood to gain if the BBI document goes through, noting it proposes policies that would help the youth access affordable credit to start business, tax holidays and create a Youth Commission to ensure their issues highlighted in the Constitution and other laws are actualised.
Raila accused Ruto, who he said was afraid on openly opposing BBI, of using absurd means to rescue the young people from joblessness by donating carts and wheelbarrows instead of coming up with innovative ways to create jobs and attract investors.
He cited the example of China and Korea which, he said, invested heavily on manpower development, trained high skilled cheap labour and became an attractive investment destination that helped it turn around its economy from developing nation to middle income countries.
Ruto has been aggressively rallying for his Hustler movement signature by the wheelbarrows that he has been donating to young people in business.
Ruto has also been at the forefront opposing the BBI initiative, saying it was a waste of public funds and not a priority for the Jubilee government.
“Somebody comes and tells you about wheelbarrows. What can you do with a wheelbarrow?
You have spent many years training and then somebody tells you that the thing that can liberate this country is a wheelbarrow.
What we need is innovation and opportunities for meaningful employment,” Raila added.
The ODM leader was accompanied by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, Esther Passaris, (Nairobi Woman Rep), Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East) and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, Mishi Mboko (Likoni) and Abulswamad Nasir (Mvita).
Orengo said the Youth Commission structure would open up space for young people, not just to be players but key participants in issues affecting them, adding that they were critical in campaigning for BBI even as he urged them to voice against wheelbarrow donations by the Deputy President.