MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 1 – President Mwai Kibaki says food provision, employment creation and transforming Kenya into a regional economic powerhouse will be among the Government’s top priorities this year.
In his New Year message to Kenyans from State House Mombasa, President Kibaki said the Government will do everything possible to address the problems facing the nation.
“Many of you are anxious about meeting your daily obligations such as providing food for your families. Let me assure you that my Government is deeply concerned about the welfare of every Kenyan, and we will do everything possible to address your anxieties,” President Kibaki told the nation.
The President said the Government is also keen on ensuring that the price of fuel came down to more affordable levels in line with global prices which have fallen by nearly two thirds since July last year to the current levels of less than US$40 per barrel.
“We expect oil companies to pass these price reductions to consumers, just as they did with the price increases a few months ago,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State also bade farewell to 2008 describing it as the most challenging year Kenya has faced.
President Kibaki said it was the year the very idea of Kenya as one nation and the Kenyan identity were put to their most severe test by post-election events.
“Yet, we the Kenyans rose to the challenge. Together, we reaffirmed that Kenya is one nation, and that our primary identity is Kenyan. We also reaffirmed that we are prepared to defend and protect the unity of Kenya and the sanctity of our nationhood,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government has a heavy agenda in 2009. In a statement he said the work will begin in earnest with a conference next month which looks into Kenya’s future.
“The Kenya We Want Conference will be held in the first week of February. It will focus on where we want to go, not where we came from. We are inviting leaders from countries that have had challenges similar to ours and overcame them,” he said.
The Premier also highlighted the reforms he expects to be carried out this year including constitutional, institutional and legal reforms.
In his New Year’s message, Mr Odinga said though many of these problems are historical injustices, last year’s early chaos has taught Kenya not to postpone dealing with these problems again.
“Land problems, inequitable distribution of resources and unemployment have been with us since independence. But we shied from dealing with them conclusively and instead postponed the problem. In the first Parliament of independent Kenya, a debate raged over the issue of land and it divided the freedom fighters who had delivered liberty,” his statement read.