We made a promise to share the substance of our discussion with President Barack Obama and to disclose the contents of our memorandum to him. We are here to keep our word.
First, we take this opportunity to thank President Barack Obama for visiting our country and helping turn the spotlight on the opportunities we are yet to fully exploit, the challenges that we need to turn into opportunities and matters that we need to summon courage and confront head on.
We also appreciate the time the President spared to listen to our thoughts on what Kenya and the US can jointly do as long standing friends for mutual progress.
Our first words to President Obama during our meeting yesterday was that he had addressed literally everything we had lined up to appeal for US support to Kenya on. That made our work easy and helped us save on time.
It became extremely fitting that the President chose to meet the Opposition after his address to the Nation.
We would otherwise have been accused of influencing the President’s speech and conspiring against the country.
We however note with appreciation that President Obama raised vital points on democracy, including the role of the opposition, the citizens, civil society and the government. He made it clear, as we have always said, that democracy requires that dissenting voices and the search lights of the media and civil society need to be strengthened, not muzzled or put off.
The President boldly addressed the question of corruption saying it is tolerated because that’s how it’s always been done. We have warned about this before, and we intend to continue our crusade against corruption, which costs Kenya about 250,000 new jobs every year.
It has contributed to Kenya sliding steadily down the annual list of Failed States listed by Fund for Peace to 17th from the bottom globally in 2013.
The President adequately addressed the politics of tribalism that is holding our country back, and warned against second names being used to deny people jobs or to award them the same. We have raised this countless times in our stand against exclusion in public affairs.
As we have done and will continue to do, the US President warned against the economics of exclusion and termed them fodder for extremist groups. We have sounded this alarm. This has been at the heart of our call for the strengthening of Devolution as a way of ensuring equitable development across our country. We shall continue with the crusade.
The significance of the President’s speech, which is reinforced in our discussions with him, is that we can solve our problems as a nation. All of the issues President Obama raised in his address in Kasarani are the very same ones we have been raising for the past one year and which we eventually turned in to a referendum Bill when our call for national dialogue fell on deaf Jubilee ears.
We discussed the strengthening and entrenchment of Devolution, protection of Civil Society and the media and electoral reforms to ensure that election results reflect the wishes of the voters and the electoral body, the IEBC, earns the respect and trust of the people of Kenya.
As Opposition, we remain energized and determined more than ever to push the agenda for an honest, corruption free government, inclusivity, gender parity and equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth. The rest of the issues are contained in the memo.
Many of the President’s words will, or should long live with us and inspire us to action in the interest of our country. The President said a time comes when ordinary people have to stand up and say… enough-is- enough. This is truly a call to action, the kind of call that this country needs at this very moment. Enough-is-enough.
This call is not far from what we have been asking for. You will recall that when Hon Raila appeared on NTV on July 12, his words to the IEBC and to the entire country on the need for electoral reforms were that … “we turned the other cheek in 2013. IEBC must not expect us to do it again in 2017.” The theme is the same as President Obama’s.
A time is coming when people will say enough is enough. That moment is fast approaching. It may well be already with us.