The unity pact between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga is not a political stunt but a commitment to peace and development of the country, Deputy President William Ruto has said.
Speaking during a tour of West Pokot County to launch development projects on Friday, Mr Ruto said other leaders should follow the example set by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
“We have agreed as leaders to unite and work together as President Kenyatta and Hon Raila have done,” said Mr Ruto.
He added: “We are uniting not because of political interests or for selfish reasons. We are uniting because of the unity of Kenyans so that we can focus on development to ensure the lives of Kenyans are transformed”
The Deputy President, at the same time, launched the construction of a peace school along the Kenya-Uganda border to address challenges of insecurity.
Katikomor peace primary school along the West Pokot, Trans Nzoia-Uganda border that will be constructed at a cost of Sh 100 million will bring together communities in the region fighting over land and cattle.
West Pokot County has pledged to give Sh 20 million for the project with the Deputy President promising another Sh 20 million from the national government.
Mr Ruto said similar schools would be launched along the borders of West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo-Samburu and Turkana Counties as a measure to containing banditry and cattle rustling activities.
Addressing wananchi during the launch of the school, Mr Ruto said education remains key to fighting insecurity occasioned by cattle rustling and feuds over land ownership along the border areas.
“The completion of this peace school will help bring together our brothers from Uganda, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia and bring to an end cattle rustling and conflicts over land ownership,” said Mr Ruto.
Governor John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), MPs Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), Reuben Chelimo (Kongasis, Uganda), David Pkosing (Pokot South) and Lilian Tomitom (Women Rep, West Pokot).
Mr Ruto told leaders and residents in areas affected by insecurity to unite and work together by supporting Government efforts in attaining lasting peace for the sake of development.
“We should stand together in eliminating cattle rustling activities which are hindering the development of education, agriculture, trade and health among other areas,” said Mr Ruto.
“To bring together all warring communities along the border areas, we have decided to partner with county governments in building learning institutions besides initiating other development projects that can improve the lives of the people,” added Mr Ruto.
Mr Ruto said President Uhuru Kenyatta recently joined other African countries in Kigali, Rwanda last Wednesday in signing the Free Trade Area Pact, saying the agreement will only benefit ‘us if we live in peace among ourselves and with our neighbors’.
The Deputy President who also presided over a graduation ceremony at Chesta Teachers Training College, told leaders to take the lead in preaching peace and reconciliation among all Kenyans irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious persuasions.
The Deputy President said issues pertaining the last General Election have been overtaken by events following the unity pact between President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“Issues of politics from Monday to Monday, from day to night are now behind us. Let’s now plan on development and how to address the needs of our people,” said Mr Ruto.
He told West Pokot leaders to stop political wrangles and concentrate on servicing the people who elected them.
“It’s the voters who had the final say during the last elections. Governor Lonyangapuo was elected on a Kanu ticket and we are working together because we have the same goal of serving the people. All of us should do the same,” said Mr Ruto.
The leaders vowed to work together in addressing the challenges affecting the people especially insecurity, saying it’s through teamwork and unity that the people’s lives could be improved.
“As leaders we have resolved to put aside our political differences and work together to eliminate problems of banditry and cattle rustling along the border areas,” said Mr Lonyangapuo.
Mr Lonyangapuo said his county government would build five more schools along the border areas in the next five years to address the challenge of insecurity, which has been the major stumbling block to development in the area.
He said the county has had problems of insecurity with the people of Sebeny in Uganda, saying the construction of the peace school would help restore peace and accelerate development along the border areas.
Mr Chelimo, who represents the Sebeny community in Uganda’s Parliament, said he was committed to peaceful coexistence along the border areas.
“We are grateful for the move by Kenya to construct Katikomor peace school along our borders. This will help bring our people together,” said Mr Chelimo.
Mr Moroto and Mr Pkosing said they have resolved to dedicate most of their time in preaching peace among the people of Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo for the sake of development.
“We will support the Government’s peace initiatives along the Kerio Valley. The recent peace caravans greatly reduced cases of insecurity in this region,” said Mr Moroto.
The Deputy President, also, asked West Pokot and Trans Nzoia County Commissioners to work together in addressing the problem of land in Chepchoina area.
He warned of disciplinary measures against officers who collude with some individuals to deprive the poor of their land.
“Provincial administrators should provide solutions to the land problem and should not in any way be part of the problem,” said Mr Ruto.