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Opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition chief Raila Odinga on Friday December 08 celebrated Kenya’s strides in its 60 years of independence, but warned that the country is “way off the original dream of fighting poverty, ignorance and disease”.

Mr Odinga criticised President William Ruto for “harsh economic policies, which have led to suffering”.

President William Ruto is expected to lead Kenya in celebrating 60 years of self-rule on Tuesday.

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According to Mr Odinga, Dr Ruto’s regime has failed the country by imposing heavy taxes on ordinary Kenyans, being unfair in distributing the national cake and state appointments, continues to borrow more money and is encouraging Kenyans to leave the country instead of creating job.

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He added that the Kenya has reached a point where the integrity of national examinations integrity is in doubt and corruption reigns supreme.

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“Our people are scrambling to leave the country. Our children are struggling to get farm jobs in Israel, to be househelps in Saudi Arabia and security personnel in Qatar. Government officers themselves, including a whole president, openly say they are trying to get jobs for Kenyans abroad,” Mr Odinga said while giving a speech on Kenya’s road to democracy at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi.

The former Prime Minister said as it stands, Kenya is divided between the camps of those who feel to be part of the government in terms of shares “as pronounced by (Deputy President Rigathi) Gachagua and those who voted for the opposition on August 9, 2022.

Kenya, Mr Odinga said, needs a generation of leaders “who stand firm on the solid rock of values and who can tell when the nation is taking the wrong turn”.

“From where I stand, and at my age, I know the country is taking a wrong turn. Imagine a 14-year-old child going to court to seek Justice over the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results,” he said.

“Kenya is failing her children. I know the country is taking a wrong turn when workers take home only a third of their basic salaries, the rest going to taxes. It is wrong when a person earning Sh50,000 a month has to surrender 20.5 percent of that money to taxes.”

He added that Kenya needs a change that can make her forefathers.

“We need to return to original vision for a selfless leadership that would be a light unto other nations,” the opposition leader said.

He called on Kenyans to use the 60th anniversary celebrations to reflect on the fate of their country and ponder what the future holds if things are to remain as they are.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader said he is not comfortable with the huge amount Kenya owes the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, adding that the borrowing trend is taking the country back to the 1980s and 1990s “when Kenya was in a massive debt and corruption was thriving in all sectors of the economy”.

Kenyans, according to Mr Odinga, have endured the pain of colonialism, the tragedy of single party dictatorship and the horrors of the economic collapse of the 1980s and 1990s.

“In these periods of colonialism, elite corruption and ethnicisation of national life, callous and cruel leaders took away lives and broke families apart through detention camps, prisons, assassination and state-enabled high levels of poverty. But all these tragedies and unfortunate turn of events could not take away the spirit of the Kenyan people,” Mr Odinga said.

The opposition chief said he’s seen citizens confront tyranny and bad regimes.

“This 60th anniversary is therefore a good time to reflect on our past. It’s also a time to look to the future. Where will this country be on the 120th anniversary of its birth?” he asked.

“This a challenge I want Kenyans to reflect on. Will we still be a country going around the world with begging bowls? Will we still be a country straddling with the weight of corruption, tribalism, lack of accountability and empty promises for which the pledge makers pay no price?”

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Mr Odinga expressed worry that the country is staring at failure. That, he said, is occasioned by deviating from the long-term vision of the founding fathers. But hope still lingers, he said.

“It is my position that if we return to the founding vision of this country, Kenya can emerge in its 80th or 120th anniversary as one of Africa’s greatest democracies and a secure and flourishing home for her children,” he said.

“We can emerge as a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights and rejects corruption. I deliberately put emphasis on pursuit of democracy and rejection of corruption as a critical pathway to Kenya’s progress. If we return to the founding vision, Kenya will witness a period of tolerance and integration between communities.”

According to the former premier, Kenya can still emerge from the hole it finds itself in if citizens reset and revert to the dream that holds the fabrics of the nation together.

“If we return to the founding vision…we will have a country in which leaders focus their energy on important things like funding education, fighting corruption, creating jobs here and easing the burdens of the people,” said Mr Odinga.

Kenyans confidence, Mr Odinga said, has waned over the time and is burdened by “corruption, taxation and a harsh and heartless leadership.”

As a panacea to the struggles, he prescribed a need for “a generation of leaders who stand firm on the solid rock of values and who can tell when the nation is taking the wrong turn”.

 

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