By Tobby Otum
President Uhuru Kenyatta rallied Kisumu residents to back the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) saying the process will lead to a more cohesive, equal and progressive Kenya.
The Head of State spoke Thursday at various stops during a day-long inspection tour of national government development projects in Kisumu County.
The President started his day in a closed-door meeting with Nyanza leaders at the Kisumu Yacht Club before crossing the lakeside town to Mamboleo where he commissioned the construction of the Kshs 415 million Jomo Kenyatta Stadium.
From Mamboleo, the Head of State who was accompanied by opposition leader Raila Odinga, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, inspected the ongoing construction of the Kshs 600 million ultra-modern Uhuru Business Park Market Complex.
He then proceeded to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex (formerly Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground) where he commissioned the upgrading of the historic facility by the County Government of Kisumu to a modern recreation.
The President concluded his tour at Kisumu Port where he inspected improvement works and witnessed the loading of eleven wagons of industrial sugar onto MV Uhuru headed for Port Bell in Uganda.
After years of neglect, the Government is restoring Kisumu Port into a modern harbor capable of handling huge volumes of cargo and human traffic from Kenya into the East African hinterland.
Speaking to thousands of Kisumu residents at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex, the President said recommendations in the BBI report released yesterday are the panacea for most of the historical challenges bedeviling the Kenyan nation.
“It must be taken together, it is a package that is addressing what ails the Republic of Kenya in the hope of making our country better, in the hope of making our country stronger, in the hope of ensuring our people are able to live a prosperous life without fear,” the President said.
The President acknowledged that there are proposals within the BBI report that require administrative and legislative actions but cautioned against quick fixes saying such attempts had failed in the past.
“I have heard some people say that some of the proposals in BBI only require administrative and legislative process, yes we are aware of that but what is required is a full package that will ensure complete healing of the country,” he said.
The Head of State appealed to leaders to unite and deliver justice to Kenyans through BBI, saying the process is not a political contest.
“We don’t want to leave anyone out, we want all Kenyans to be inside the house, all Kenyans to be contented. And if you have something which you feel has been left out, tell us so that we can include it,” he said.
The President also spoke about his coming together with opposition leader Raila Odinga saying the ‘handshake’ had brought about tranquillity in the country.
He challenged other leaders to emulate their example by cultivating a culture of dialogue and coming together to find solutions to challenges facing wananchi.
“I call on all Kenyan leaders, please let us join hands and do justice for all citizens. We want all Kenyans to work and live together peacefully, we don’t need to insult each other,” the President appealed.
The Head of State said the projects being rolled out by both the national and County Government of Kisumu are transforming the region and restoring the glory of Kisumu as a regional economic hub.
On the Jaramogi Odinga Sports complex, President Kenyatta announced that the national government will inject Kshs 100 million to support the upgrading which is being financed by the Kisumu County Government.
In Mamboleo, the President said the new stadium is a fulfillment of the promises he made to the football rich Nyanza region.
“We are here to fulfill the promises we had made in which we said we want to see proper development in Kenya and part of the pledges we had given was to put up proper sports facilities to enable our youth to develop their talents,” the President told the crowd that included a galaxy of Kenya’s football legends.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga who spoke at all venues addressed by the President drummed up support for the BBI saying the process will culminate into a national referendum.
“We don’t want this to be stopped, it will go up to the referendum and we want 80 percent to say yes to BBI,” the former Premier said at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex.
Mr. Odinga recalled Kenya’s founding father’s dream of having a peaceful, progressive and united country noting that dream can only be achieved through the BBI.
“For 56 years we have not been able to fulfill the vision of our founding fathers which was peace, unity and progress. It is, for this reason, we sat with my brother and agreed we take another route to achieve it,” the veteran politician said.
The ODM party leader decried the predictable cycle of election-related violence every five years saying proposals in the BBI report will help create a conducive environment for peaceful elections.