NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga’s 2022 presidential bid was endorsed by Central Kenya power brokers under the umbrella of the Mt Kenya Foundation, who said “Kenya is safe under him.”
The foundation vice chairman Titus Ibui said there was consensus among the elite group, with the blessings of President Uhuru Kenyatta to support Odinga.
“The President asked us to advise him on what type of person he should hand the mantle,” he said.
Kenyatta’s second and final term will come to an end in August next year and the region is repositioning itself not to be left out once Kenyatta exits the stage.
Governors present among them Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Nderitu Murithi (Laikipia), Lee Kinyanjui (nakuru) and Kiambu’s James Nyoro said they will rally the region to support Odinga.
Top business leaders among them Peter Munga, Royal Media Services Chairman S.K Macharia among others have also pledged support for Odinga.
Odinga said he is ready to work with the Mt Kenya leaders “and will walk together in this journey. This is just the beginning.”
In his speech, Odinga pledged to address various challenges facing the country and the region, including youth unemployment.
“The youth can be a blessing or curse if depending on the way you use them. If they are not well empowered, they become delinquents, criminals, drug addicts, but if they are properly empowered, they become a source for wealth creation,” Odinga said, when he was hosted by Mt Kenya Foundation leaders at Safari Park hotel, Nairobi.
While addressing delegates at the meeting, the former Prime Minister stated that the current unemployment rate of 39 percent is worrying adding that the issue needs urgent intervention.
Leaders in the meeting, mainly from Mt Kenya have vowed to support Odinga in his fifth stab at the presidency, saying he is a safe pair of hands for the country and the region in an apparent reference to his main competitor Deputy President William Ruto.
Odinga added that 75 percent of the population in the country comprise people under the age of 35 stating that the challenges affecting them needed to be addressed.
The opposition chief attributed the high rate of unemployment in the country to mismatch between the skills and the demands of the market saying that Kenyan institutions have failed to teach their students important skills
“We have so many young people running around with papers, degrees from universities here. There are a number of investors coming in the country looking for people to employ but the current qualifications our institutions are giving are irrelevant to the demand of the market,” he said.
Odinga stated that the government need to review the curriculum to address the situation adding that the country was losing a lot of money training unemployable people.
He also pointed out that the high wage demand in the country was putting off investors and employers who prefer employees from oversees as opposed to Kenyans who ask for higher wages.
“The investors come here looking for manpower but the demand in terms of wages is too high. For a quarter of what these guys are demanding you can get an engineer from India. That’s what a lot of employers are doing in Industrial Area.
The ODM leader further said that Kenya has a huge economic potential if adequate and favourable business policies are put in place.
He added that to achieve this, Kenya needed to lower its operating costs to attract more investors in the country.
Odinga stated that the market is flooded with cheap imported goods from external sources which is killing industries in Kenya, adding that the government needs to look into the issue.
He further said that the country should promote its Buy Kenya Build Kenya Initiative in a bid to capture the Kenyan market before expanding to regional markets.
“I believe very strongly that this country is playing below its capacity. Kenya does not serve to play in the field its playing right now,” he said.