Uhuru to give scorecard in last Madaraka Day speech
President Uhuru Kenyatta will today preside over his tenth and last Madaraka Day celebrations as head of State, a fete that will mark a significant turning point in his political career.
The President is widely expected to give a score-card of his administration as this will be his last public State function.
Wananchi will also be expecting him to address economic issues, such as the cost of food and fuel, and how the government intends to handle the transition of power after the August 9, General Election elections among other issues.
Today’s celebrations come against the backdrop of campaigns that will culminate in the August 9 General Election that will mark the end of ten years of the Jubilee Party’s administration. With 68 days to the polls, the President has already endorsed his former critic and rival-Raila Odinga, to succeed him, bypassing his deputy, William Ruto.
Raila, the Azimio-One Kenya Coalition flag bearer and Ruto of Kenya Kwanza Alliance, are considered as front runners in the race with eighteen contenders.
In past State functions, the President has bypassed protocol to invite Raila to speak after Ruto. In the last public function that the President and his deputy attended – the National Prayer Breakfast – Ruto also bypassed protocol to invite Raila’s running mate, Martha Karua, to address the gathering.
Political pundits will be watching to see if the same pattern will be replayed today. This year’s celebrations will be held at the newly refurbished Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park, where the inaugural Madaraka Day celebrations were held when Uhuru’s father—Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was sworn in as Kenya’s Prime Minister in 1963.
Yesterday, the President presided over a brief ceremony to commission the garden for public use, paving the way for it to host today’s event. Earlier in the day, Nairobi Regional Commissioner William Kang’ethe Thuku, while addressing the media on the State’s preparedness to host the celebrations, said that the park has a capacity of over 30,000 people.
He welcomed citizens to join the President and other dignitaries in marking the day. This year’s Chief Guest is Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, who arrived in the country three days ago accompanied by First Lady Fatima Maada Bio.
Bio took over power in his country in 2018. Themed ‘Pamoja tusonge mbele’ (Together we forge ahead), this year’s event will be celebrated at various venues countrywide. Last year, the celebrations were held at State House, Nairobi, due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Part of the restrictions involved a ban on public gatherings. Kenyans will be celebrating 59 years since the attainment of self-rule from the yoke of colonialism. The fete also comes against the backdrop of the approaching third General Election since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.
President Kenyatta, incidentally, has been the only one who has held State power since the Constitution was promulgated by his predecessor; President Mwai Kibaki, who died in April.
Although Covid-19 infections had been on the decline over the last six months, the number of cases has been rising over the last one week, prompting the Nairobi regional commissioner to remind Kenyans who will attend the celebrations to observe the necessary precautions.
Unlike in the past, when some roads in the capital were closed to secure the venue of the celebrations, this year, all roads will remain open.
“As we strive to meet the ever-increasing demands of the growing city with a population of over four million people during the current administration, the national government, through the regional development implementation coordination committee, has overseen the construction of various road projects,” said Thuku.
President Kenyatta is expected to highlight some of these developments in his speech. Health services For instance, under the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRa) projects, a total 539.26 km of roads have been done at a cost of Sh144.625 billion, while 1,182km of roads are ongoing or have been done by Kenya Urbans Road Authority at a cost of Sh142.7 billion,” said Thuku.
According to him, the government through the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), National Land Commission and the Nairobi City County Government has been undertaking a titling programme within the Nairobi area, giving citizens legal ownership that allows them to develop the land.
Another achievement that the President is expected to highlight involves increased access to health services in public institutions.
“Towards the realisation of improved access to health care,” Thuku said, “the national government through NMS has built, renovated and equipped 32 health facilities and sank approximately 155 boreholes in informal settlements within the region”.