, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The first tier of the presidential debate took place Monday evening, with three out of six candidates facing off in a televised parley.
Thirdway Alliance candidate Ekuru Aukot, independent candidates Japheth Kaluyu and Michael Wainaina launched a joint attack on the main political formations with Wainaina describing them as a political gang in the discourse that lasted slightly over 90 minutes at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
“The political class in NASA and Jubilee are suffering from political ‘gangsterism’. In fact, it is not me who calls them thieves; it is they who call each other thieves, tribal and clueless,” Wainaina argued.
“We have our goats missing. Kazi kwa Vijana, Japan Embassy scandal, the National Youth Service scandals are all an indication of past corrupt governments. The final arbiter on fighting corruption is the people of Kenya on August 8. If they insist on re-electing tribal leaders and thieves, then we cannot fight corruption,” he charged.
Aukot promised to fight graft, taking issue with the manner in which corruption has been fought by past regimes.
According to the Thirdway leader, past governments lacked the moral authority and the goodwill to deal with fraud, thus their failure to put up a convincing war on sleaze.
“What Kenya needs is a no nonsense leader. It’s not necessarily a dictator in the normal definition of that word but someone who can say this is the direction this country must take and we’re not going to tolerate certain bad manners like theft,” Aukot said.
Kaluyu, whose running mate Eliud Kariara enjoyed a one-man debate last Monday after his peers absconded, gave a stern warning to corrupt individuals vowing to dismantle corruption cartel if elected on August 8.
“Kenyans are smart; they know who has been involved in what, who has done what and who speaks the opposite of what they do. I can tell you, if you’re thinking or imagining of taking public coffers, please start packing because a new sherriff will be in town,” he remarked.
The three also promised to improve education standards in the nation if elected, each candidate pledging measures to reform the education sector.
Aukot said he intends to invest in free education by increasing the teacher-student ratio, equip education institutions, as well as abolish school fees all the way to the university level.
“Young Kenyans should not be pulled out of classrooms because of lack of school fees,” he said.
Wainaina on his part argued the need to elevate public schools saying they have been left to the hoi polloi as the rich seek better educational institutions elsewhere.
“Our mission is to provide a modern learning system. I believe it is importantly to let this country how modern education is done and that is something I have done with my school,” Wainaina who owns a private school said.
On conservation, the trio shared similar ideas on the need to conserve the country’s biodiversity as they pledged to protect the national heritage in national parks and reserves across the nation.
The youth agenda was also a key talking point during the debate with Aukot, Wainaina and Kaluyu promising to include youths in their respective governments, whichever of them wins.
The presidential hopefuls however promised to concede defeat and respect the will of the people on August 8.
“Even if I do not become the president, I hope I will have encouraged other young people to pursue the country’s leadership,” Aukot said undertaking to form a Shadow Cabinet to keep the government of the day in check in the event he loses the election.
United Democratic Party’s Cyrus Jirongo, Abduba Dida of the Alliance for Real Change and independent candidate Joseph Nyaga skipped the debate.