NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday appeared together at a public event for the first time since the March 4 polls, and pledged to work jointly for the development of the country.
Speaking while attending the funeral of Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General David Okuta, the two leaders said that the country needed unity for development.
Kenyatta, who was setting foot in Odinga’s Nyanza stronghold for the first time after assuming office, said that he will form a government that reflects the face of Kenya.
The two leaders and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka held private talks at State House last weekend.
Kenyatta assured the mourners that his government will serve all the people of Kenya regardless of who they voted for.
The Head of State said: “In a normal democracy we engage in competitive politics but politics is not enmity; once the politics is over we are all brothers and sisters in the same country called Kenya and we need to come together… work together to build this great nation of ours.”
“I want to assure you that the government is neither for a region nor for a group of people; it is for the more than 40 million people who live in this country. We will work together to ensure that development is realised in every corner of this country,” he added.
The Head of State reiterated his commitment to engaging leaders from across the political divide to further foster unity. He said that he will be making visits to all the 47counties.
“I look forward to working with all leaders including my elder brother Raila to ensure that we unite this country; to ensure that we deliver on our promises and uplift the lives of our people,” Kenyatta added saying that he will soon be back in the counties of Nyanza as he tours the country.
Odinga on his part said that the country needed to be reconciled and to achieve its development priorities.
The former PM revealed that he has already moved on after the defeat in the General Election.
“The most important thing is to reconcile this nation and move forward, we had the same competition with retired president Mwai Kibaki but we again worked together,” he emphasised.
President Kenyatta who termed Okuta as a level-headed negotiator pledged to work closely with all trade unions and reverse the characteristically adversarial relationship with the government.
“He was driven by the spirit of ensuring that he looked after the welfare of teachers and during negotiations he also took into account national interest. Mine is to assure the KNUT leadership that they will continue to have a friend in me and we shall work together for the interest of our children and the people of Kenya,” he assured.
Odinga who described the late Okuta as a firm negotiator, called on the government to ensure that it forges ahead to address perennial issues that have affected the quality of free primary education by employing more teachers.
“Okuta is referred to as a warrior because of the relationship which existed between the trade union movement and government. Trade unions need leaders and negotiators not warriors, but Okuta has done his best but some issues are still unresolved; we need more teachers to improve the quality of education,” he said in his tribute.
According to KNUT, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) ought to employ at least 70,000 teachers to address the issue of shortage.