guest columnBy RAILA ODINGA
On January January15, 2008, we gathered here to pick the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker and to swear in our then new members of parliament.
Many Kenyan watchers predicted that there would be serious legislative problems for the government if what transpired in this house on that day, and the fighting that was going on across the country were anything to go by.
Some predicted the prospect of deadlock in parliament and difficulties in passing essential bills.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since.
A lot of positive things have gone on in the country and in this house these five years.
Today, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the Tenth Parliament, the Government and the people of Kenya for the undying spirit and the resilience that has made us recover our breath and come this far.
If this were a gathering of men and women of religion, we would all proclaim EBENEZER.
And I think that as a nation that believes in God, we can all say, EBENEZER today. This far the Lord has brought us.
Let me begin by expressing sincere gratitude to all members of this house as colleagues whom I have come to know as friends.
It has been quite an honor to interact, to serve and to exchange views with you, sometimes bitterly, all, I believe, in our joint quest to make Kenya a better nation and to represent the feelings of our constituents.
There is reason for members of the Tenth Parliament to bow out holding their heads high.
Out of the bitter divide of 2008, the Grand Coalition Government, with the critical input of the Tenth Parliament, has presided over;
• The Promulgation and implementation of a new constitution;
• The Restoration of peace, including resettlement of most of the Internally Displaced Persons.
• Restoration of economic growth.
• Institution of a working government that, more than any other government in recent times, has achieved what many thought would be impossible even in the best of times.
Working closely with the Executive, the Tenth Parliament has overseen:
• The biggest ever investment in infrastructure development, with growth in roads, mobile telephony, energy and ICT standing out.
• Investment in food security through irrigated agriculture in ones neglected places like Turkana.
• Expansion of energy sources by investing in clean energy like geothermal, wind, solar and clean coal;
• Poverty reduction measures targeting vulnerable groups, including cash transfers to the poor and elderly currently piloting in various parts of the country.
• Expansion of free education to secondary schools and extending its benefits by providing sanitary towels to girls;
• Liberation of Somalia from Al Shabab as part of our obligation to ourselves and to the global community; to name just but a few.
The evolution of projects like the LAPSSET, the Konza City, and, above all, the promulgation of the new constitution have been so grand they could only have come from the era of big dreams that the Tenth Parliament and the Grand Coalition Government have come to represent.
It is my hope that when the history of this country is written years later, with the benefit of hindsight, soberness and wisdom that comes with time, it will be more kind and gentle on the grand coalition and the Tenth Parliament than day to day reviews have been.
Each of us is hitting the campaign trail soon, except for a tiny minority that has opted out of elective politics.
I want to wish each of you well as you seek to recapture your current seats or new ones.
I hope you too will wish me success and victory.
I am sure that the violence of 2007-2008 is still fresh in the minds of each of us. I want to appeal to that as we hit the campaign trail, let us not to underestimate the impact we could make by getting involved in matters of peace, stability and national security.
As we campaign, let us not forget to remind Kenyans of the tasks ahead for the next government. These include:
• A faithful and full implementation of the Constitution
• Pursuit and implementation of Vision 2030 goals.
• Attaining 10 per cent plus growth as part of the Medium Term Plan goals of Vision 203o.
• Security within our borders
• Deepening infrastructure development, and in particular, a full implementation of LAPSSET project;
• The creation of an ICT hub of the region; especially the development of Konza Techno City.
• Reducing the cost of energy particularly through investment in green energy sources.
• Full integration of EAC.
• Ensuring a Peaceful Somalia and South Sudan
We are leaving this house at a moment in our history when Kenya faces daunting challenges.
Some of our problems seem greater than our government's ability to solve them. Poverty, massive youth unemployment, insecurity and tribalism stand out among the challenges.
But I remain deeply optimistic about our country's future.
In my view, all these challenges are surmountable.
I am optimistic largely because of what I have experienced and witnessed in the last five years.
I am especially encouraged by what we have been able to achieve after beginning so low five years ago.
With hindsight and experience under the Grand Coalition Government, I can state without fear that the greatest obstacle that stands between us and the brighter Kenyan future we all want is right here among us.
It is the polarization of our politics along tribal and party lines.
This is what is preventing us from making the principled compromises this country desires and deserves.
In a democracy, moving forward depends on making compromises. We need bipartisan understanding in our politics if we are to unleash all the potential of the Kenyan people.
And so I want to respectfully appeal to you, my colleagues, as you go out there to embark on campaigns.
I know how hard each of us is going to work to get elected to the various seats we are seeking. It is so engrossing we may be tempted to forget that it is not about us, it is about Kenya.
As we campaign out there and us we return to this house next year, for those who will be successful, let us be prepared to reach across the party, tribal and regional divide.
Let us be prepared that for the sake of Kenya, when we gather in this House next year, each of us will reach across the aisle and party divide.
Let us strive to and find partners from the opposite party. Let us put the interests of country and constituents ahead of the dictates of party and ideology.
God Bless you all.
Please join me in thanking President Mwai Kibaki for his service to our nation and wish him well as he prepares to retire.
Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Raila A. Odinga, EGH, MP;
Wednesday, January 2, 2013