President Uhuru Kenyatta PHOTO:COURTESY
All eyes will be on the President when he gives his last State of the Nation address, six months to the elections.
His address comes at a time the country is facing a myriad of challenges ranging from corruption, insecurity and hunger.
Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to enumerate the Jubilee administration’s achievements on key governance areas, as he seeks to discredit a resurgent Opposition and convince Kenyans that he deserves a second term.
On the eve of the speech, Jubilee and Opposition legislators exchanged barbs on whether the Government has kept its promises to Kenyans. There were conflicting reports that some Opposition leaders could either disrupt the proceedings or boycott the session.
Top on the MPs’ list of concerns are runaway corruption, high cost of living, insecurity in parts of North Eastern and border clashes in Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, drought, implementation of devolution, historical injustices and election preparedness.
There were calls from both sides that the President emphasises on the 2017 elections, and assures Kenyans that the country is on the right path towards the second poll in the new constitutional dispensation.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) said Kenyans should look forward to an inspirational speech touching on key achievements of the Jubilee administration.
“The President will enumerate the achievement of his government, this being an election year. He will use the occasion to highlight the key successes of his administration in fulfilment of Article 10 of the Constitution,” he said.
“I know that the Government has done a lot in terms of fulfilling its pledges to Kenyans. The problem is that there are people in this county who have eyes but they don’t want to see, they have wets but they don’t want to hear.
The government is committed to ensuring that we have a free and fair election in which Jubilee will carry the day.” The President’s speech will be in furtherance of Article 10 which requires the President to report to Parliament on three key pillars of national life.
The President shall, once every year, report, in an address to the nation, on all the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realisation of the Constitutional values,” the Constitution states.
The Opposition promised to respond ‘to every single issue’ that the President will raise during their own ‘state of the national address’ later in the week.
“I expect nothing from the President. It will just be a public relations exercise. I don’t expect anything much because the President’s time is up. Since the last state of the nation address, things have gone from bad to worse. He should touch on his readiness to hand over power. What else can he tell us about corruption? He should give a commitment that Jubilee will not use state machinery and that there is going to be fair contest, not using state machinery,” said ODM chairman John Mbadi.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed agreed saying: “We will respond to every single issue he will raise in his speech. There will be no acrimony. We will have our own state of the nation address by Monday next week. We are going to listen to him obediently to hear what he has to say. We want to know his commitment to a free and fair elections because he is a major stakeholder as the president.”
“We hope that this being an election year, he will not just tell Kenyans what he is going to do, but what he has done,” said Minority Deputy Whip Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini MP).
“The Jubilee government has been riding on plans and policies of the grand coalition government. The time for reckoning has now come, and the President must tell Kenyans what he has achieved during his time in power,” said Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire.
Another Opposition lawmaker who spoke on condition on anonymity said CORD members were planning “to teach the president a lesson he will never forget”.
“We are yet to agree, but we preparing for many things,” said the member.
The President will also be expected to touch on other key issues such as infrastructural development and measures taken to tackle insecurity.
“The government has done a lot especially in the energy sector and security issues. Apart from some areas in Northern Kenya, the government has tried to deal with insecurity, especially on terrorism. Those Opposition MPs hitting at government are hiding their heads in the sand. We know that the opposition is doing its work, but they should acknowledge that government projects have been initiated all over the country, including in Opposition dominated areas,” said Tiaty MP Asman Kamama.
Meru Woman Representative Florence Kajuju added: “The President is coming to tell us the achievements of the government so far… He is going to emphasise that he is going to ensure that there is peace during the campaign period and during the elections and that there will be no interference with the electoral commission.”
“We are looking forward to the President touching on issue of the election and the fight against corruption. Although the Jubilee government has made some achievements, we expect that the President speech will build on these achievements,”Mathioya MP Clement Wambugu said.
But National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo saw it differently. “We do not expect anything new from this address. The President’s anti-corruption crusade has not yielded anything meaningful,” the Gem legislator said.
Likewise, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr insisted that the President should be very candid on corruption, insecurity and if Kenya has met its international obligations, especially Kenya’s standings within the East African Community.
“Corruption has permeated all sectors of government. The 175 list of shame is yet to be acted upon conclusively. The sibling rivalry between the two Houses of Parliament is also doing a disservice to the legislative agenda,” said Kilonzo Jnr.
Speculations are rift that opposition MPs are planning to discredit the Jubilee administration by boycotting today’s session.