High hopes in Uhuru Nyanza tour

As Raila Odinga spear­heads elab­o­rate plans to re­ceive the Pres­i­dent in Kisumu and Bondo this week fol­low­ing March 9 hand­shake, re­gion is bub­bling with great ex­pec­ta­tions with lead­ers and res­i­dents shar­ing wish list

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RUSHDIE OUDIA

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Job­less­ness, com­pen­sa­tion of post-elec­tion vi­o­lence vic­tims and the re­vival of sugar fac­to­ries top Kisumu res­i­dents and lead­ers' wish­list as Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta vis­its the re­gion for the first time af­ter his hand­shake with Or­ange Demo­cratic Move­ment leader Raila Odinga.

The Pres­i­dent is ex­pected to visit the lake­side city on De­cem­ber 13 to pre­side over the launch of Uni­ver­sal Health Cov­er­age pilot phase.

Lo­cals ex­pect him to ad­dress many is­sues, in­clud­ing the erad­i­ca­tion of wa­ter hy­acinth, fish im­ports from china and in­se­cu­rity.

Kisumu Deputy Gover­nor Mathews Owili said the launch of the scheme in the four pilot coun­ties — Ny­eri, Isi­olo, Machakos and Kisumu — would be in the lake­side city.

Also in long list of re­quests is the com­ple­tion of roads and the im­prove­ment of Kisumu In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Govern­ment and county of­fi­cials on Wednes­day toured Kisumu to iden­tify suit­able venues for the event and to en­sure every­thing is in or­der ahead of the visit.

The hand­shake saw Mr Keny­atta go easy on op­po­si­tion lead­ers and the fruits have been ev­i­dent, one of them be­ing ap­point­ments to plum po­si­tions in paras­tatals.

Mr Odinga was also made the African Union High rep­re­sen­ta­tive for In­fra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment, while Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is a spe­cial peace en­voy.

Other op­po­si­tion lead­ers who ben­e­fited are Na­tional Su­per Al­liance chief ex­ec­u­tive Nor­man Ma­gaya and ODM sec­re­tar­iat of­fi­cial David Osiany, who were made Kenya Film Clas­si­fi­ca­tion and Chemelil Sugar board mem­bers re­spec­tively.

The bond be­tween Mr Odinga and Mr Keny­atta will be made stronger as the Pres­i­dent is said to be plan­ning to visit the for­mer's home in Bondo.

On Fri­day, Mr Odinga asked Kisumu res­i­dents to wel­come Mr Keny­atta.

Nyanza re­gional po­lice boss Leonard Katana said his of­fice is yet to get of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion from State House on the Pres­i­dent's tour.

Kisumu County Po­lice Com­man­der Job Boronjo said govern­ment of­fi­cials are not tak­ing chances and would en­sure se­cu­rity is tight.

"We still have not re­ceived of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I am read­ing all these in news­pa­pers. How­ever, we are pre­pared for the visit," Mr Boronjo said.

De­spite the un­cer­tainty, politi­cians and opin­ion lead­ers are ex­cited and mak­ing de­mands al­ready.

Luo Coun­cil of el­ders chair­man Ker Opiyo Otondi said res­i­dents are look­ing for­ward to see­ing the fruits of the hand­shake.

He, how­ever, re­mained mum on the de­mands the el­ders have for Mr Keny­atta.

“We want the Pres­i­dent to reaf­firm the hand­shake at the grass roots and the joint path he has cho­sen to walk with Mr Odinga. Af­ter that, ev­ery other thing will fall in place,” Mr Otondi said.

Muhoroni MP Onyango K'oyoo wants the re­vival of sugar fac­to­ries to be pri­ori­tised.

“Millers should be re­vived. The two lead­ers should come to Chemelil and Muhoroni and re­vive the fac­to­ries as that will have long last­ing ben­e­fits on the re­gion and lo­cals,” the law­maker said.

He added that it is im­por­tant for Mr Odinga and Mr Keny­atta to en­sure they fin­ish the unity drive in the coun­try started by their fa­thers.

“We are hope­ful the sugar debts will be writ­ten off just like what hap­pened to tea and cof­fee,” the Muhoroni MP said.

Nyando MP Jared Okello said the Pres­i­dent should di­rect the govern­ment to clear the debts it owes the millers.

“Farm­ers should be given what be­longs to them. The fac­to­ries should have mod­ern ma­chines," Mr Okello said.

Rights ac­tivists Audi Ogada said Mr Keny­atta's visit would en­sure Kisumu is no longer viewed as a place that is hos­tile to other po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“We would like to hear from the Pres­i­dent what he in­tends to do about po­lice bru­tal­ity that has been the or­der of the day dur­ing elec­tions,” he said.

“It would be bet­ter if he meets vic­tims of post-elec­tion vi­o­lence. We will be sure of his com­mit­ment to jus­tice and com­pen­sa­tion if he does so.”

The ac­tivist also asked Mr Keny­atta to ad­dress the is­sue of youth unem­ploy­ment in Kisumu.

Millers should be re­vived. The two lead­ers should come to Chemelil and Muhoroni and re­vive the fac­to­ries as that will have long last­ing ben­e­fits on the re­gion and lo­cals. We are hope­ful the debts will be writ­ten off” Onyango K’oyoo

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