President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday asked the Opposition coalition, Cord, to give him time to work.
Speaking in Kisumu, the stronghold of Cord leader Raila Odinga, Mr Kenyatta said political competition should not breed enmity or hatred.
“We must all deal with what is important for Kenyans, and we cannot manage this if we keep fighting one another every day,” the President said in apparent reference to the criticism levelled against his administration by Mr Odinga. “As leaders, let us respect one another. Politics is not war or enmity. We must all ensure that Kenyans are taken care of, especially the youth who hold the future of this country.”
The President spoke at Obunga slums and later at Kondele where he promised the youth that National Youth Service projects, which had been stopped, will be revived.
At Kondele, a section of the youths shouted from the crowd demanding answers on how the Eurobond money was used. They also demanded that bad roads in the region be fixed.
“Tell us about the Eurobond and you must remember this is an ODM zone,” shouted the youths.
In response, the President said the issues troubling the youth will be tackled as articulated in the Jubilee manifesto.
He said that the NYS projects remain some of the core interventions of the government to reduce unemployment.
Leaders from the county, among them Governor Jack Ranguma, Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura and Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch welcomed the President, who was in Kisumu for the official opening of the Seventh Day Adventist church headquarters for western Kenya.
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti, and his Nyamira counterpart, Mr John Nyagarama, Mr James Rege (Karachuonyo MP) and Silvance Osele (Kabondo Kasipul) were also present.
Mr Ranguma asked the President to consider reviving the Kisumu Cotton Mills and Kenya Breweries plants.
Leaders also asked the President to support them to rebuild bad roads in the sugar belt and equip the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.
“We need to sit down and engage in a structured conversation on the development projects that the national government should come in and complement us in,” said Mr Ranguma. He also asked the government to prioritise construction of the Oyugis-Kendu Bay Road. In response, the President said discussions were under way to revive major factories in the region.
“There will be more discussions after we complete revival of Rivatex Cotton Mills, which is at advanced stages. We have a vision to enable our farmers get a place to deliver cotton so that their economic wellbeing is improved,” he said.
President Kenyatta assured the youth that NYS projects would be revived by the end of this month. Besides Kisumu, other regions to benefit from the revived projects are Mombasa, Nairobi, Eldoret, and Nakuru.
“We have come to tell you that we need to work with one another. It is only work and not politics that will assure you of peace and tranquillity,” he said. “We must empower our people so that they earn on the sweat of their brow and keep off crime. It is through work, not politics, that they will be able to take care of their families.”
Security was tight during the visit. Plainclothes and uniformed police officers patrolled the highway from the Kisumu airport.
The VIP arrivals section at the airport was a no-go zone, with officers instructed to only allow in elected leaders.