By Victoria Magar
ODM party leader Raila Odinga on Monday made an extensive tour of the lakeside city of Kisumu ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to celebrate Madaraka Day.
His mission was to woo support for the President and his entourage when he visits the area.Raila asked the people of Kisumu to come out and welcome the Head of State saying the visit portends good tidings for the locals.
The former Prime Minister kicked off his day by holding a meeting with Members of County Assembly in Kisumu. The agenda of the meeting was not clear.
He later visited the newly refurbished Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex before addressing residents at the bus terminus in Kondele and later Mamboleo. Jomo Kenyatta Sports Complex is the venue of Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.
Raila assured residents he was fit months after recovering from COVID-19.
“There is a monster in the name of COVID-19 that attacked me, however, I managed to wrestle it down,” he told the crowd at Kondele.
Raila took the opportunity to assure the residents that Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitution amendment Bill is still alive despite being invalidated by the Constitutional Court.
He likened the court process to tribulations which he said would be overcome.
“Even in the bible, Satan tempted Jesus but he was steadfast for the job his father brought him to do. I equate that to what is happening with BBI,” he said.
Raila exuded confidence that ultimately BBI will be sent to the people for a referendum to decide on the Constitution amendment.
“Let Kenyans not panic that BBI has been dealt a blow by the courts. No, we have lawyers who are ready to battle it out in the corridors of justice,” he said.
Raila who is the AU representative for infrastructure development further noted that the planned national projects in the area with some set for launching by the President will open up the region.
He said the metre-gauge railway line from Nakuru to Kisumu is a game changer that will boost the economy of the region as well as create hundreds of jobs for the youths.
“There are a number of jobless youths in this region, women too continue to give birth making this number grow day by day. The refurbishment of the new railway line will inject new life to the people,” he said.
He said Kisumu businesses will record a boom since all the cargo from Mombasa will be deposited in Naivasha for onward transmission to Kisumu by the railway.Raila also noted that the government has hived off 300 acres of land belonging to Miwani Sugar Factory to establish a special economic zone.
The ODM leader was accompanied by Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o who had a difficult time convincing people why the Madaraka Day celebration is an invite only event. Nyong’o told the people of Kisumu that due to COVID-19 protocols it is difficult to host a large number, a plea that was rejected by a chanting crowd.