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President Kenyatta’s Public Apology and Handshake Hallmark the State of the Nation Address

President Uhuru Kenyatta today made his maiden “State of the Nation Address” in Parliament, since his inauguration as President for a second term in office. The President commenced his address by paying tribute to the late Hon. Kenneth Matiba, whose patriotism he hailed as having greatly inspired the constitution under whose authority Parliament now sits.

He hailed the 11th Parliament which was charged with the task of implementing the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, thus making enabling laws to create institutions, which the new constitutional order called for. He noted that though this task was not easy, significant progress had been made in implementing the constitution. “The laws were passed; the counties were established; establishing a new constitutional order. Our constitutional order is stable, secure, and growing in strength. Devolution is no longer a baby; it is now an established framework for governing and delivering public services”, the President observed.

The President also spoke into the issue of mismanagement of public resources, noting that great progress had been made, in building preventive tools and ways for citizens to become more involved in reporting graft. He warned that gone are days when people would cart away ill-gotten public wealth and go unpunished. Parliament through its oversight role is at the core of deterring abuse of public resources.

President Kenyatta further enumerated to the Joint-sitting of Parliament the development headway that had been achieved since last year’s State of the Nation Address. He noted that his government had completed the most ambitious infrastructure development in Kenya’s history; the Standard Gauge Railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi, which was launched in June 2017, and added that the second phase of the SGR project, which runs from Nairobi to Naivasha had been launched. He further informed the Members that negotiations were in progress for the financing of the Naivasha- Malaba line. The President also spoke of the opened Terminal 2A at Jomo Kenyatta International, which had among other factors enabled Kenya to roll out direct flights from Kenya to the United States. He further highlighted the expansion of Last-Mile Connectivity, which has brought electricity to 71% of households, up from 27% in 2013.

On the Big–Four Agenda, he urged Members to support him in not only facilitating the passage of the necessary legislation upon which the Agenda items depend, but in also becoming the agents of the desired change.

Noting that there was great improvement in cushioning the country from terrorism and terrorist attacks, he commended the security agencies for their efforts in curbing the menace, which has sadly led to some paying the ultimate price by losing their lives. He paid tribute to the late Principal Secretary, Ms. Mariamu el Maawy, who succumbed to injuries caused by a terrorist attack in her line of duty, late last year.

 

The President also appealed to the Judiciary through the Chief Justice who was present, to ensure that the arm of government that he leads “attains the highest standards of conduct and integrity, and that it never loses sight of the interdependence of all arms and levels of government”.

In what perhaps was the key highlight of the President’s address, President Kenyatta, expressed his apologies for anything he may have done that may have dented the unity of the Country. “If there was anything I said last year that hurt or wounded you, if I damaged the unity of this country in any way, I ask you to forgive me, and to join me in repairing that harm”, he implored upon the Members. In an address characterized by lots of handshakes and laughter, the President further urged leaders at every level of government to demonstrate a desire and commitment to serve; and in particular to maintain the highest degree of integrity.

To this end, he undertook a firm commitment that no Kenyan would ever lose their life again to political expediency, nor would any Kenyan’s property be destroyed on account of politics, under his watch. He was however quick to note that unity of purpose and national reconciliation would only be tenable if leaders admitted that they have failed the test of clamoring for unity in the past, and publicly and genuinely seek for forgiveness. At this juncture, he hailed the former Prime Minister the Right Hon. Raila Odinga, for exhibiting statesmanship after he and the President, publicly committed to reconciliation during their now famous meeting at Harambee House, on 9th March.

 

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