Political and religious leaders, in their New Year messages, have spelt out key priorities that should occupy Kenyans and the government in 2016, and challenged the latter to take the lead in resolving them.
Led by Cord leader Raila Odinga, the leaders spelt out corruption, insecurity, electoral reforms, constitutional implementation and high cost of living among the issues that must be tackled in the New Year to guarantee prosperity of all.
Mr Odinga said 2016 will be a defining year for change and progress, because majority of Kenyans were better aware of the challenges facing the country.
“Insecurity, runaway corruption, a wanting electoral infrastructure, wobbly economy whose growth is seen in the stock market and corporate profits but not in the lives of our people and safeguarding the constitution are some of the most immediate
challenges we will have to address,” he said in his statement.
The Cord leader said the opposition would continue pushing the government to explain how the Eurobond were used, and maintained that the government still could not account for Sh140 billion of the loan proceeds, as there was no evidence of how the money was spent.
He said Kenyans were set to pay Sh110 billion of interest in the loans, in absence of its prudent expenditure, and accused the government of hoodwinking Kenyans, saying the investigations ordered by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) within 10 days had come to naught.
The opposition chief also called for devolution of security functions to the counties, to be able to deal with challenges facing the sector such as terrorism and internecine resource and clan based violence, which the devolved units were best placed to intervene and pre-empt.
He also urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to step up the plate and ensure election preparations for 2017, were concluded in the first quarter of 2016, or Kenyans prepare for another “grand failure”.
‘DON’T MUTILATE CONSTITUTION’
The former Prime Minister also warned against mutilating the constitution through “backdoor” amendments saying it would roll back the gains made and roll back the country to dictatorship.
He said any changes to the constitution must be through a popular initiative, and asked Kenyans to support the Cord led Okoa Kenya initiative.
He also called for softer diplomacy with Kenya’s traditional partners to win wider support from the international community and also urged President Kenyatta to learn from his newly elected Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli, on how to curb wastage in government.
Amani National Congress Leader Musalia Mudavadi echoed similar sentiments and lashed out at the government saying it had missed “the economic political and social targets” in 2015, and must make for lost ground in 2016.
Referring the government’s “missed opportunities” the Amani leader said the New Year, should be a period of reflections on the type of leaders required to steer the country to prosperity after 2017.
He was particularly critical of the government’s appetite for “mega-projects” even as ordinary Kenyans were being hit hard in the pocket through increased taxes, and termed the huge projects as an avenue for corruption by a few well-connected government officials.
Mr Mudavadi said attempts to weaken the office of the Auditor General, was one of the ways the government, through a pliant legislature, and was bent on furthering the culture of corruption.
He called for lifestyle audits that are made public as a way of dealing with corruption in government.
The Amani leader also singled out spiraling fortunes in the health and education sectors, saying the former was being hampered by government holding on to functions and resources that were meant to have been devolved and the former, to mistreatment of teachers by failure to award them a pay rise.
The former Deputy Prime Minister also called for the need for electoral reforms heading into 2017, and criticised various calls for referendum to change the constitution as likely to polarise the country ahead of the elections, since they were being driven by political competition and need to improve the existing legal framework.
Nation Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) secretary general Rev Peter Karanja said the government’s key priorities in the New Year, should be fighting corruption, deal with insecurity and ensure preparations for the next elections are concluded early enough to avoid creating anxiety that often may result to chaos.
He also called for a legal framework to give the several calls for referendum a national outlook, and allow for contributions by the public and civil society, among other actors on the changes they desire to see in the constitution.
Rev Karanja said the government should also take measures to improve the economy to lift the lives of majority of Kenyans living in poverty.
Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the workers body would work closely with the government to help eradicate the ills that continue to afflict the country.