Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga continues to widen his support base in the August 9 presidential contest after leaders and professionals drawn from Northern Kenya counties vowed to support his fifth stab at the presidency.
This comes barely days after over 30 governors rallied their support for Raila terming him as the engine behind devolution since the 2010 constitution came into force.
On Wednesday January 19 Northern Kenya leaders led by Finance Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani and Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi vowed to rally the region behind Raila’s quest to be Kenya’s fifth president saying they are set to achieve a lot under his stewardship.
During the meeting held at Serena Hotel in Nairobi, Yatani said Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Marsabit and Mandera counties will follow President Uhuru Kenyatta’s direction with regard to his successor.
Citing Raila’s track record, Yatani said a Raila presidency will trigger confidence, stability and consequently economic growth.
“The president has done a lot in many areas and when Raila comes in next, I foresee a stable and developing Kenya. We know what he stands for in terms of devolution and independence of institutions,” he said.
While thanking the Northern Kenya leaders Raila pointed out that he has a plan for the region that will help transform its economic fortunes for good. He decried the poor state of development in the region and pledged to correct past skewed allocation of resources for developing the area.
He added that those who want to do business will have capital to start their business. The ODM leader enumerated his countless efforts to lobby for development of the region under the grand coalition government of 2007-2013.
“After holding a consultative meeting with the Northern Kenya leaders, I have been in government and there are issues I understand about this region. But I also know there are new issues that have emerged.” said Raila
He said he will give priority to providing remedies to issues that have impeded the growth of the region for decades such as drought and water scarcity that has compounded Northern Kenya’s economic challenges.
“You have so much livestock here and this region can be an anchor of our economy. We will ask KDF to purchase animals from you. We will also ask them to construct a state-of-the-art slaughterhouse here.” He stated
According to Raila, “this will ensure that there is a significant volume of meat products from this region going to Nairobi. Others will be for exports including to Dubai and the Middle East. That will boost the economy here.”
While appearing to counter Deputy President William Ruto’s economic promise to the region, especially targeting the youth, the ODM leader insists he has a better plan that can emancipate the rising generation.
“The young people are the foundation of the third liberation. And we want to build an economy that benefits young people. After school, they are given loans to set up businesses. We will also establish a national youth commission that specifically looks into the issues affecting young people in our country. That is the only way to address poverty.” He said
Raila further noted that he understands the problem of the shortage of teachers in Northern Kenya and will prioritize addressing the challenge.
“We will ensure that the region has enough teachers. We will train more local teachers to meet this need.” He said.
From all indications the Northern Kenya region appears to be solidly behind Raila ahead of August polls. Already Garissa Governor Ali Korane, his Wajir counterpart Ahmed Mukhtar and Isiolo’s Mohamed Kuti have declared their support for the ODM leader.
Other notable figures working with the Treasury CS are Mandera deputy governor Mohamed Arai. Former governors Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir) and Godhana Dhoyo (Isiolo) are also backing a Raila presidency.