Politician and activist, Orie Rogo Manduli, has faulted the Jubilee leadership, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, for “failing to acknowledge the presence of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga” during Madaraka Day celebrations held at Kabiru-ini Stadium in Nyeri on Thursday, June 1.
Odinga had arrived at the Kabiru-ini stadium midmorning and was received by cheering crowds outside the stadium.
Sections expected President Kenyatta to invite the Opposition chief to address the gathering in the stadium and audiences, who the program was being televised to live at home, but that did not happen.
“Ignoring Raila Odinga was the most terrible thing that President Uhuru Kenyatta can ever do. Raila is a national and international figure. How can he pretend that Raila was not there, huh? By not giving Raila Odinga a chance to address the nation, President Kenyatta gave Odinga mileage more than he can imagine. Raila was the one who said “Kibaki Tosha”, and Kibaki comes from the Nyeri region,” Manduli told eDaily.
“As far as the Nyeri people are concerned, Raila is a njamba (hero). Raila yuko juu zaidi, he is a hero. How couldn’t the President acknowledge Odinga’s presence in Nyeri? I watched the whole program in disbelief. My mouth was open with shock, shock, shock!
“Odinga is a former Prime Minister, a doyen of Kenyan politics. I mean, without Raila, where could we be as a nation? A part of the freedom we enjoy today is because of him, isn’t it?
“I watched the live broadcast from the beginning to the end, hoping Odinga will address the nation but I was disappointed. Normally, I don’t watch those things, but on Thursday, June 1, I made sure I watched the entire program, hoping to watch Odinga’s address to the nation.
“The President ought to have even said: “Amongst us is former premier Raila Odinga, and we acknowledge his presence”. Uhuru did not do that. What he did is unacceptable in a civilized world. That was not gentleman-like. Even Trump and Clinton greet each other whenever they meet.
“What President Kenyatta did was the epitome of insecurity. What I saw yesterday (Thursday, June 1) is what the English people refer to as a pride before a fall. Anyway, Raila’s presence was very much more pronounced by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s denial to recognise Odinga’s presence. He (Uhuru) actually picked up Raila.”
“President Kenyatta turned the national event into a campaign venue. The Deputy President ought to have told President Kenyatta that there was need to recognise Odinga’s presence. That was important.”
“What he (Uhuru) did was a show of might, a show of splendor. Every time the President goes to State House Kisumu, he is well received, people listen to him, people welcome him, people sing for him. But when Raila goes to Nyeri, he snubs him? Anyway, people in Nyeri know and recognise Raila more than the President can imagine. It is Raila who put their son, Kibaki, into power,” concluded a furious Manduli.
Manduli’s gripe comes just a day after a section of Opposition officials from Nyeri and Embu Counties also faulted the Jubilee leadership for “snubbing” Odinga.
Speaking to the press in Nyeri town after the event had ended Thursday, ODM/NASA coordinator in the Mt. Kenya region, Gitonga Wathanga, said they were shocked to learn that Odinga was not going to address the gathering let alone receive recognition from the presidency.
Wathanga claimed the Jubilee administration is not keen on integrating the country’s citizenry, adding that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech did not portray elements of national interest.
“A large part of the celebration, including entertainment catered to an audience from the Kikuyu ethnic group,” said Wathanga.
Beatrice Wamuya, an Opposition official from Nyeri County, said the 54th Madaraka Day celebrations should have been dedicated to Mau Mau fighters who sacrificed their lives and resources in ensuring Kenya got independence from the colonial government.
NASA deputy president candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, has also criticised President Kenyatta for ignoring Raila Odinga’s presence in Nyeri. In a statement to newsrooms dated Friday, June 2, Kalonzo said: “(Overlooking Odinga) was a clear demonstration of the divisiveness with which Jubilee has run this country for the last four years. It does not serve the interests of Kenya for Jubilee to try to ignore the facts and hope to undermine the quest of Kenyans to put in place a new administration.”
President Kenyatta, in his speech Thursday, outlined his administration’s achievements, citing the completion of Standard Gauge Railway, free maternity, electrification of schools and modernisation of hospitals as some of the achievements of his administration.
President Kenyatta urged Kenyans to re-elect him and his deputy, William Ruto, saying they deserve another term to complete development projects his government has initiated.
The Head of State directed Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to ensure that residents living in Nyeri colonial villages get titles within three weeks.
Nyeri Governor Samuel Wamathai had, during his speech, told the President that he had been sent by the affected families to make the request to him (Uhuru).
President Kenyatta also called for peaceful elections on August 8, saying either outcome – a win or loss – should be embraced by elective seat candidates.
Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto said the government would continue to hold national day celebrations in various counties across the country.