ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses Kisii residents at the Kisii Sports Club on March 3, 2022. [Sammy Omingo, Standard)

ODM leader Raila Odinga has once again reminded Kenyans of the opportunities lost by the ‘death’, albeit temporary, of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) whose fate now lies at the Supreme Court. 

Odinga who spoke during the burial of former Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Wilfred Machage at Kehancha Grounds, Migori County on Friday, said even with devolution, distribution of resources has not been equitable and some communities have felt left out, even as the system is nearing a decade. 

“In Teso this was fixed. As Teso who are the minority got the first governor, who finished his two-term limit. We want to improve devolution so that all people living in any county don’t feel like a minority,” said Raila.

He said that the Ward Development Fund, as envisioned in the BBI, is a dream that his administration will see come true, saying that such a provision coupled with the National Government Constituency Development (NG-CDF) will see equity even among minority communities within the counties.

“But this is a constitution thing. We have to change the Constitution to address some of these new realities that we have witnessed so far,” added Raila. 

He said the cries by the minority communities are something close to his heart and he has what it takes to correct this. 

“It is not only here in Kuria where the people say they feel left out despite the spirit of devolution that was supposed to make those who felt too far from the national government be close to it in terms of infrastructure and other social amenities and opportunities like jobs. We also have the Sabaot, Mbeere, Teso, Tharaka, Turkana communities just to mention a few,” said Raila. 

He further said that the Azimio la Umoja movement is meant to bring Kenyans together and with it, the country will stop discrimination on basis of tribe.

“We want to slay the dragon that is negative ethnicity and just like Tanzania, see a nation of brotherhood,” said Raila. 

Nominated MP Denittah Ghati implored Raila to consider the Kuria community for the position of Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, which was left vacant by ambassador Machage’s death. 

Raila said the late Machage was his friend since 2002 and that although the Kuria region was dominated by KANU, he chose to walk with NARC.

“He was an avid debater, and he was pretty fluent in Swahili. And for your request on the vacancy created by his death, I will speak to President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider a Kuria for this position. But if that will not be possible, then I will do that when I become president, ” said Odinga. 

He however urged the Kuria community to first vote him in as president, since without their support it might not be possible to clinch the presidency.

The ODM leader was accompanied by former UNCTAD boss Mukhisa Kituyi, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, Kisii Governor James Ongwae and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. 

Joho appealed to the Kuria community to rally behind Odinga, since Azimio as constituted, promises a long-term solution to minority discrimination.

“I am also a minority. But as we head to elections we must know who has our interests at heart. You can trust Baba who is your neighbour more than anyone else,” said Joho. 

Muturi asked leaders to avoid divisive language as they hunt for votes.

“Only one person will be elected president. So there’s no need for divisive politics. 

We must develop a culture of consultation among leaders as this is what will create the difference,” said Muturi who said he will be in the August 9 ballot to battle it out with other presidential contenders.