President Kenyatta has poured his heart out, publicly declaring that his handshake deal with Raila Odinga has given him peace of mind for the last two years.
Uhuru opened up on his emotions about the March 9, 2018 ceasefire deal with his political soulmate, terming Raila a selfless leader who is not power-hungry.
Uhuru said not even the mega-infrastructure projects he has initiated give him joy like the peace deal.
“We want to reduce the cost of transport between Kisumu and Nairobi. We want development but, above all, what has given me peace in my heart is the handshake,” Uhuru said amid jubilation by the crowd at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Ground.
The President was given a heroic welcome in a symbolic gesture. At about the same time in 2017 — days before the October 26 repeat presidential election — Kisumu was a no-go zone for Jubilee and even electoral officials.
“I want to thank him (Raila) that for two years that we have worked together…despite what critics have been saying, he has stood with me this far…. this shows that he is not after self-gain but stands for the good of all Kenyans,” Uhuru stated.
Raila who earlier welcomed the President belted out Dholuo hero songs and energized the swelling crowds that gathered to witness Uhuru’s entry into a region that had denounced him as President.
Raila once mounted the podium to calm electrified youths who were charging towards the presidential dais to get a glimpse of Uhuru.
The former Prime Minister spoke in Dholuo for a long time, pleading with the multitude that turned up to step back to create space.
The President’s Nyanza visit comes against the backdrop of aggressive campaigns by leaders from the region and those from Uhuru’s Mt Kenya backyard to seal a 2022 political deal.
The tour comes after Kikuyu elders made a historic visit to Raila’s bondo home in what was seen as a symbolic gesture to endorse the ODM leader as the President’s successor.
Luo elders are set to be hosted by their Kikuyu counterparts on October 30 in Nyeri in an indication that the region is warming up to pay the historical debt owed to the Jaramogi family.
In his speech, Uhuru drummed up support for the Building Bridges Initiative report and took a swipe at Deputy President William Ruto whom he indirectly said was hurling insults rather than seeking dialogue.
“Let let us not throw insults at one another. A leader sits down with fellow leaders and dialogues the way we are doing with baba (Raila),” the President said.
The DP had on Wednesday was absent from the launch of the BBI report at Kisii state lodge but fired salvos from a funeral in his Uasin Gishu backyard warning against “reggae bravado’ in the BBI process.
Appearing to respond to the DP’s claims, Uhuru said those leaders who feel that some issues have been ignored in the BBI repors should raise them so that they are captured.
“Speaking from here in Kisumu, I want to ask all leaders that let us sit down as grown-ups and do justice to Kenyans. We don’t want anybody left out. We want everyone in the house (BBI); we want all Kenyans to contended,” Uhuru said.
The President dismissed BBI critics suggesting that the report should be implemented in piecemeal, saying the document must be approved as a “package”.
Uhuru said while he is cognizant of the fact that not all BBI proposals would require constitutional amendments, the ultimate solution to Kenya’s problems would be achieved if BBI is enacted wholly.
“Let us not be told that this can’t be done now, it must be taken together; it is a package that is addressing that which is ails our country in the hope of making it better, stronger and ensuring people live a prosperous and safe life without fear,” Uhuru said.
He went on: “The medicine my brother Raila and I were looking for is not that of administering Panadol when we have malaria. We must put all these things together and pass them together as a package.”
The President said the BBI had good proposals, which include establishing a youth fund, giving tax holidays for youth-owned companies, creation of a ward fund as well as expanding the Executive to accommodate all communities.
Raila urged the people of Nyanza to back the BBI process, saying in Dholuo that the handshake was not a joke but part of the efforts to take Kenya back to where the founding fathers left it.
He asked his supporters not to allow a few traitors to take “handouts from elsewhere” to fight the BBI process.
“We want 80 per cent of Kenyans to vote for BBI,” he said, urging county assemblies within Nyanza to be the first to ratify the document.