Job plea that caught President’s attention

Wednesday February 10 2016

Philemon Agwanda sorts out his certificates at his one-roomed house in Obunga slums, Kisumu County on February 9, 2016. He is optimistic his life will change after President Kenyatta called and promised him a job. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Philemon Agwanda sorts out his certificates at his one-roomed house in Obunga slums, Kisumu County on February 9, 2016. He is optimistic his life will change after President Kenyatta called and promised him a job. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MOSES ODHIAMBO
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When 28-year-old Philemon Agwanda Nyagaya called out President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name at the top of his voice when the Head of State visited Obunga slums in Kisumu on Sunday, he had no idea the bold act would change his life.

Four hours after he took the risk of breaking the cordon built around the President’s motorcade by the hawk-eyed GSU personnel, he received a call from State House. His two-year hunt for a job had just ended.

An elated Mr Agwanda told Nation on Tuesday he is happy to have received the good news from the President.

“I am still perplexed that the President called me himself and asked for my credentials so I could get a job. I took a step of faith when I saw him as the only one who would solve my problem. I am glad he did,” said Mr Nyagaya.

President Kenyatta had made a brief stopover at Obunga slums to address hundreds of youth who had lined up along the road to receive him from Kisumu airport.

The President was in the lakeside city for the official opening of the Seventh Day Adventist western Kenya headquarters.

It was during the address at Obunga that Mr Nyagaya took the opportunity to put across his request for a job, not to a company manager, but to the President himself.

“I was standing at one of the bumps on the busy highway. Many people had blocked the road to hear the President. It then dawned on me that he could help me find a job,” he says.

Mr Nyagaya went on: “I shouted Rais! Rais! Rais! Rais! (Mr President). He looked back in my direction and beckoned me to go to his car.”

“I pushed my way through the multitude and reached the nucleus of his security detail. They tried to ward me off, but I kept calling out the President’s name,” he said.

“It was at this point, when I was too close to the President that they let me talk to him. I told him how much I have struggled to get a job. His aides handed me a notebook and a pen to write my contacts,” he added Tuesday.

PATIENTLY WAITED

“I quickly put my number down. I gave him the contacts which he read and realised I had not written my name. He asked me to do so. It was surprising he patiently waited for me to write my name as well,” said Mr Nyagaya.

“Later, at around 7pm when we were still discussing the incident with my friends, I received a call from a strange line and a lady was on the other end. She asked my name which I told her and she said the President wanted to speak with me,” he said.

“I asked her if it was Uhuru Kenyatta and she warned me to refer to the caller as Mr President. I apologised. She told me to hold the line for the caller. I did not believe it until I heard the President’s voice and we started conversing,” said Mr Nyagaya.

“In the conversation, he asked me about my problem. I told him that I had been out of college for two years, but I had not found a job since I graduated from St Paul’s University in Kiambu.”

“He also asked me about my parents  and how they were doing. In the brief chat, he said he was happy with my courageous act and said someone would call me back and I thanked him,” narrated Mr Nyagaya.

“At 7.30pm, a lady called me and asked if I had talked to the President. She asked me if I wanted a job or internship. I was told that I would be given an email address to send my CV to the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Ms Cicily Kariuki,” he said.

“I could not sleep on Sunday night following the experience. I was only looking forward to the next day so I could send my credentials to the email which was sent to me through an SMS,” he said.

A thankful Mr Nyagaya told the Nation that the President’s visit to Kisumu was his greatest blessing.

“I am feeling great that I have been honoured to speak with the President. I also want to thank our MP Ken Obura who intervened when the security guards almost pushed me away from speaking with the President. We urge the Head of State to keep coming here so that more  lives can be changed,” said Mr Nyagaya.

Mr Steve Okelo said the call that might now grant his friend the opportunity to get a job is encouraging.

He condemned an incident at Kondele where some youths attempted to disrupt the President’s meeting.

“As youth from Obunga, we want to condemn what happened at Kondele. We tell the youth to use opportunities presented to them to push for real issues other than hurl insults,” said Mr Okelo.

He further told the youth from the region that life is not about politics alone, but about pushing for what can change their lives  at a personal level.