By OWINO SAMWEL
thepeople Sunday, 5 May, 2013
Professionals from Luo Nyanza have embarked on a mission to wean the region of politics by identifying key development projects they want focus to shift to. They aver the region has lagged behind in economic development since for many years, it has not been at the centre of power and its leaders spent much time playing opposition politics, a scenario they do not want to resurface following former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s failure to clinch the presidency in the March 4 elections. With President Uhuru Kenyatta pledging he will not isolate any part of the country including those that did not vote for Jubilee, the professions are seeking to tap into this and have identified priority projects in each county, which they plan to present to him.
The group admits that Luo Nyanza is currently seeking alternative leadership following uncertainty over Raila’s continued stay in politics. The professionals are led by former Member of Parliament Dr Shem Ochuodho, who now works as an information and communications consultant in South Sudan. Ochuodho revealed that key areas they have identified include tackling the water hyacinth in Lake Victoria, which has affected fishingacross four counties in the region. A larger proportion of counties in Luo Nyanza depend on fishing for their daily bread.
“We also want the fight against water hyacinth intensified and resources in Lake Victoria properly handled,” Ochuodho said.
The professionals have also identified food security as a key area especially in Siaya County and are proposing investments in irrigation and construction of dams.
“We want them to stop focusing on presidency but engage in development activities. We are not saying that a Luo should not be President but we should first improve our economic livelihood. We require a lot of civic education to change locals’ mindset to focus on development. We want Nyanza people to take charge of their lives and government to just complement their efforts,” Ochuodho said.
He also noted that Siaya has potential for electricity generation since it has several waterfalls.
Ochuodho said Luo professionals with the backing of Luo Council of Elders also plan to meet on May 12 to deliberate on the future of the region. The professionals are planning to establish a microfinance institution to empower locals economically. Former MP Ken Nyagudi called on President Uhuru his deputy William Ruto to aid in the revamping the region for the benefit of the residents. Among the other projects they are eyeing include revival of Kisumu Cotton Manufacturing Industries (Kicomi), which previously formed part of the region’s economic mainstay. Uhuru, who met the group a forthright ago, has expressed willingness to work with them.
During the burial of former Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general, Okuta Osiany, in Kisumu, Uhuru told area residents his Government will serve all people even those who did not vote for him. He added that he is a president of all Kenyans including those who voted for their competitors. Key allies of Raila have also expressed willingness to work with the government for the sake of the region’s development, a move the former PM also backed. During the burial, Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno said the two leaders should work together and spur economic development in the Nyanza region and the county at large. With an International Airport in Kisumu , the region has potential of not only transforming the country but also the entire East African Community.
The willingness by the Jubilee government to work with leaders from regions that voted for the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy was also in evidence during Ruto’s recent tour of Western Province. He said they will not discriminate against any region but will instead work with leaders to ensure that development is given priority over politics. Ruto said time for politicking was over and called on Kenyans to unite and work with the government in order to take the country to the next level. “With the elections behind us, it is now time for all us to shelf our party affiliations, and walk together towards realising the agenda we have for this country,” Ruto said during the homecoming of Lugari MP Ayub Savula