President Uhuru Addresses Parliament; Assures Country that the State of the Nation is Strong, Resilient and Steady
President Uhuru Kenyatta this afternoon delivered his Seventh State of the Nation Address with a strong urge to political leaders in the legislature and across the country not to let their guard down in the fight against Covid-19.
In an address delivered to an expectant House and an equally expectant nation given the challenges the country has faced this year, the President chose to inspire hope by stressing his proclamation that the "State of our Nation is Strong, Steady and Resilient".
His address this year which comes 6-months later than it's usual timing, cast a spotlight on the adverse effects that the global pandemic has visited upon the country, after which he appealed to the legislature as part of the larger part of the political leadership to lead the fight against the pandemic from the front and to avoid succumbing to the Covid fatigue.
"We must not succumb to COVID fatigue. We must not 'back truck’ from our vigilant fight against this pandemic. If the people fall short of giving their best at this time, we the leaders have no option but to give our all. We must "..know the way, and show the way", urged the President.
The President observed that the pandemic had led to an unprecedented loss of life, global economic slow-down; the postponement of major cultural, religious, political, and sporting events including the 2020 Olympic games.
Noting that he was addressing the August House in the midst of extraordinary global economic, social, and health disruptions which had necessitated the rescheduling of his address for a period of six months, he took time to enumerate to the House the steps his government had made in combating these effects, among them economic stimulus programs and containment measures taken to stem the spread of Coronavirus.
He commended the two Houses for their swift support towards the measures sought by the executive with regard to the National Emergency Response to the pandemic, as well as in the approval of statutory instruments issued under the Public Health Act and the Public Order Act.
President Kenyatta also expressed his gratitude to the Country's health personnel and all frontline workers who he noted the country will forever be grateful to, for their service under tremendous strain and challenging conditions. Decrying that a number of health workers comprise the over 1200 Kenyans who have lost their lives to the disease, he led the legislators in observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the pandemic victims. He also lauded Kenyans for remaining as their brothers' keepers in the face of tremendous economic challenges and the health crisis facing the country.
Further noting that the pandemic had greatly disrupted the academic calendar, President Kenyatta assured the House that the gradual and phased reopening of schools was being carefully monitored to ensure the safety of students. He underscored that though he shared in the pain of parents whose children have been at home since March, these measures had been taken in the interest of the children.
"As a parent and a grandparent, I share in the pain and frustration of most parents in having our children home for nearly an entire year. However, as a responsible Government, we put the health and safety of children as the paramount consideration", explained the President.
He took the opportunity to announce that the Ministry of Education would within 14 days announce the 2021 Academic Calendar. He also observed that for the second year running, the government had been able to achieve a transition rate of 100% from primary to secondary school.
Conscious of the fact that the pandemic had necessitated the enhancement of school infrastructure, including the construction of over 12,500 classrooms, the President appealed to the legislators to deploy a significant amount of resources that they oversight, towards this cause.
" In this regard, I appeal to you to re-prioritise the use of discretionary funds under your oversight to respond to the immediate and short-term needs of our learners," he urged.
Perhaps taking a perfect opportunity to address the frequent jostling between the two Houses, resulting to a recent court ruling which has hamstrung their legislative business, the President called on the two Chambers to strive as much as possible to resolve issues of concern by consensus building. He was quick to note though the jostling is expected as is the case across all bicameral legislatures, the two Houses should seek ways to better exercise their institutional mandates. He offered that the Executive will always be at hand to aid in consensus Building and to foster internally mediated outcomes within Parliament.
President Kenyatta concluded his address by assuring the country that the state of Kenya’s economic development remains on course, despite unexpected disruptions to the economy and way of life, as a result of Covid-19.
The State of the Nation Address is delivered in accordance with Article 132 of the Constitution, which mandates the President to report on measures taken and progress achieved in the realization of the National values set in the Article, as well as the progress made in fulfilling International Obligations.