NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has called for a truce between Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, with the two having renewed political fights in recent weeks.
Kibwana who spoke at the closing ceremony of the sixth devolution conference in Kirinyaga on Thursday said there was need for a “second-generation” handshake between the two leaders to calm political tension in the country.
“We’ve listed to both of you (Ruto and Odinga) in various fora but as I listened, many people wish that you have a second-generation handshake. That would be good for this country because we want real and total unity,” he said at the ceremony attended by Ruto.
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka made a similar call saying unity was crucial for the development of the country.
He urged leaders to exercise restraint in a bid to safeguard national unity.
“I want to implore upon all of us especially the political leadership that to actualize the Big Four development agenda, we have to address issues with measured tones to ensure political calmness, harmony and tranquility,” Lusaka said.
“Even in the fight against corruption, let us be objective and not politicize it so that we bring the temperatures of this country down to be able to focus on what is ahead of us,” he added.
Ruto and Odinga have been on a collision path over the ongoing investigation into alleged loss of Sh21 billion allocated for the construction of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet.
While Ruto has insisted that only Sh7.8 billion is in question in the said project, none of which had been lost, Odinga has dismissed Ruto “for trivializing the matter.”
“If we’re discussing about the theft of the dams don’t come and tell us that it was not Sh21 billion but Sh7 billion. How did you know?” Odinga said when he addressed the devolution conference on Wednesday.
He dismissed as diversionary, remarks by a section of leaders accusing the Directorate of Criminal Investigations of a witch-hunt in the war against corruption.
“When a thief steals and they are being chased, they would often create confusion and have a mob descend on the wrong person by pretending they are also running after a thief,” Odinga said.
He told off Deputy President Ruto for dismissing reports that Sh21 billion alleged to have been paid for the construction of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet had been lost, saying investigators should be given room to independently probe the matter.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has indicated that only Sh7.8 billion had been transmitted for the construction of the Arror and Kimwarer dams and that none of the monies, being advance payment of 15 per cent of the contract amount had been lost.
Rotich who spent some 12 hours on Tuesday at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations recording a statement on the suspected loss of Sh21 billion said Sh12 billion was paid as commitment fee comprising Sh11 billion insurance premium to secure a loan for the dam projects.
“Like any other standard loan facility signed by the government, there are several conditions to be met before funds are available to the borrower and the contractor to commence work,” he said in a press statement published in local dailies on Sunday.
Ruto later spoke at the devolution conference’s closing ceremony.