NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Leader of the Majority Coalition in Parliament Aden Duale has apologised on behalf of the Jubilee government for the ill treatment that former PM Raila Odinga experienced at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, after being denied access to the VIP lounge.
Duale, who was responding to a statement sought by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo on the issue said it was unfortunate that the incident occurred, maintaining that it would not be repeated.
He however told Parliament on Thursday that Odinga’s aides wanted him to access VIP Lounge III, which is reserved for the Deputy President and Retired Heads of State, and also have his motorcade access the airside.
According to Duale, the requests were turned down for security reasons.
“Access to the airside is restricted and the former premier was requested to proceed to VIP II but he opted to proceed through the normal domestic departure to the Kenya Airways lounge,” he explained.
This person (Odinga) is very important to some people like myself. Let them make me have peace by allowing him to use VIP Lounge III and not II – Mbadi complained.
Members of the National Assembly however felt dissatisfied with the response and things got murky when Duale said that Odinga was required to use VIP lounge II, which is reserved for Cabinet Secretaries, Heads of diplomatic missions and Members of Parliament on a prearranged basis.
Suba MP John Mbadi took issue with the statement saying Odinga was a former principal of the grand coalition government and should not be asked to use the same facility as MPs, ambassadors and Cabinet Secretaries.
“This person (Odinga) is very important to some people like myself. Let them make me have peace by allowing him to use VIP Lounge III and not II,” he complained.
“It is sad to hear the leader of majority tell us that the VIP Lounge reserved for people like Mbadi is the same one reserved for Raila Amollo Odinga.”
And not one to shy away from censure, Duale responded in an equally terse manner telling Mbadi that Odinga was not an entity of a community but was a leader for all Kenyans.
“We should not have few people masquerading as protectors of the former Prime Minister. He is not an entity of a community; he is a Kenyan leader who has a history and we are going to respect him,” he argued.
“Raila Amollo Odinga does not require your protection; he is protected by the Constitution.”
Mbadi had also told the Jubilee government to reign in on Cabinet Secretary Francis Kimemia but Duale dismissed him asking him not to personalise the issue.
Gumbo challenged Kenyans to treat their leaders with the same respect they accorded foreign personalities.
“The crying shame for our country is the way we treat our heroes. We easily lay out red carpets to foreigners but when it comes to our heroes we treat them with sneering,” he argued.
“Four years ago an athlete by the name Usain Bolt came here and we were running over each other to get an autograph yet we have our very own David Rudisha.”