, KIRINYAGA, Sept 7 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated that politicians from the opposition are free to talk to him on development issues.
He said this while asking CORD party leaders not to panic when they see him meeting Members of Parliament from their ranks.
“Don’t forget that I was elected to serve all Kenyans and we have to talk to the leaders on their development priorities,” he said.
The President said that it is the people who will decide which directions their leaders will take and his priority was to serve the people.
“When the people come to Jubilee, the leaders will follow,” he said.
The President was speaking in Kiamugumo Girls Secondary School in Kirinyaga County at a thanksgiving ceremony for Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru.
“Don’t fear when we meet leaders from CORD. Where is the problem when I talk to them to know their development priorities,” he said.
The President criticised the calls for a referendum as a misplaced argument that is full of contradictions.
He said the agitation for increased funding for the Counties was not justified.
The President cited the fact that more than Sh30 billion was not spent of the Sh190 billion that was allocated to counties in the last financial year.
He also said that the funding for counties in the current financial year was raised by Sh36 billion from the previous year.
“If we raised the funding by Sh36 billion why can’t we work together to expand our economy because we will be able to raise it even higher,” he said.
The President called on those agitating for a referendum to be mindful of Kenyans who are already overtaxed because increasing allocation for counties will lead to more taxation.
“Their argument is full of contradictions because they say the cost of living is high and still ask for more funds for counties which will lead to more taxes that will lead to increase in taxes,” he said.
The President said Kenyans should work together to expand the economy to increase the tax base so that higher revenue can go to the Government.
The Head of State said some Governors were supporting the referendum calls because saying ‘pesa mashinani’ (money for the grassroots) seems popular to them.
Close to 30 MPs who attended the thanksgiving ceremony said they opposed the referendum calls.
Majority Leader Aden Duale said the clamour by CORD for a referendum was not about the welfare of Kenyans but was actually aimed at giving the opposition power.
At the same time, some opposition leaders were given an opportunity to speak at the function and defend their argument for a referendum.
Those who spoke included Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma and Dagoreti North MP Simba Arati.
President Kenyatta said it was a sign of political maturity to allow the CORD legislators to address the ceremony and speak on the referendum calls.
“Allowing Ranguma and Arati to defend their referendum calls is a sign of healthy democracy,” he said.
The President and all the other leaders who addressed the thanksgiving ceremony praised Waiguru for her hard work.
President Kenyatta said women hold strong positions in his Cabinet and they were not picked just to fill slots.
Besides Waiguru, the President cited Amina Mohamed who is in charge of the powerful Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Judy Wakhungu (Environment and Water), Phylis Kandie (Tourism and East Africa Community), Rachael Omamo (Defense) and Charity Ngilu who is in charge of the Ministry of Lands.
Waiguru thanked the President for placing women in powerful positions in Government.
“You didn’t just pick women to satisfy gender balance ratio but you gave us the most powerful positions,” she said.
Cabinet Secretaries who attended the ceremony included Henry Rotich (The National Treasury), Michael Kamau (Transport), Davis Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum), Adan Mohamed (Industrialisation and Enterprise Development), Judy Wakhungu (Environment, Water), Fred Matiangi (ICT), Prof Jacob Kaimenyi (Education) and Hassan Wario (Sports)
At the end of the function, President Kenyatta presented to the school a school bus, desks and sanitary pads.
The President also promised the residents of the area that the road network will be upgraded soon as part of the Jubilee Government’s plan to tarmac at least 10,000 of road this year.
After leaving Kiamugumo, the President addressed a roadside rally in Embu town where huge crowds gathered.