We are meeting at an extra-ordinary time, under extra ordinary circumstances. The times and circumstances demand that we speak the truth, and that we do so frankly and boldly as we face the conditions in our country today.
So let me begin by being very clear on one issue. The meeting we are holding here today, the others to come in the near future, the activities we have pursued in recent past and those we will embark on in the coming days, are not about 2022 elections.
We meet against the background of the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and I during which we launched the Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation initiative.
That handshake has been hailed across the world and many of our citizens as a bold step towards addressing ours problems once and for all and bequeathing a better country to our children. But it has also become the subject of much political discourse and distortion by sections of leaders.
That handshake was not about 2022. It was too significant an event to be reduced to a struggle for positions, promises and ambitions of individuals.
This country has had elections before. We had Presidents, Prime Ministers and even Chief Secretaries before. There is nothing special about 2022 elections. The only thing that is special is that we have arrived at an agreement that we must do things differently going forward. We also have something special in the realization that if we don’t do the things we have set out in the MoU with President Uhuru Kenyatta, 2022 elections will amount to doing the same thing time and again and expecting different results.
Without the changes we envisage in the MoU, 2022 will be messy. It will come with the same confusion, heartbreaks and possibly chaos. We are trying to forestall such eventualities. As a forward looking and reform minded party, we must resist the efforts of political shylocks demanding their pound of the flesh out of the handshake.
Let us take a dispassionate look at where we were before the handshake and where we are now as a country and decide whether this was a worthy effort.
I am convinced that it was the right thing to do and I know President Kenyatta equally agrees it was worth the effort and the risk and we are determined to push it to its logical end.
Kenya is at a crossroads. Elections are mini civil wars. Businesses close at election time. Citizens relocate to perceived safe areas at election time. Many of our citizens feel disenfranchised and excluded. Corruption is killing that nation. Citizens view each other with suspicion, mistrust and anger. A little misstep and we tip over the precipice.
As leaders and a party, we have a duty think beyond 2022 and put the country on a path towards lasting unity and meaningful reconciliation. Not many nations that get to the brink secure a second chance to rethink and re-imagine their destinies. We are among the very lucky few and we must not take it for granted.
In the MoU called the Building Bridges to the New Kenyan Nation, we have identified ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, strengthening devolution, ending divisive elections, ensuring safety and security of our people, ending corruption and ensuring shared prosperity as issues our country has to address if we are to create a nation at peace with itself.
We will soon unveil a series of public events across the country to outline the terms of the MoU to Kenyans.
Addressing some of these issues may require changes to some of our laws and even amendments to the constitution. When that time comes, we must be bold enough to pick up the challenge as a matter of duty to the nation.
To participate actively in the national discourse and drive the agenda ahead, we must reorganize, rebrand and rebuild as a party. We must stay focused and refuse to be distracted by familiar voices that always stand on our paths to reform.
On this agenda of great national importance, we are prepared to work with old and new allies in the Opposition and in government as we have done in the past. ODM must take its rightful place in driving Project Kenya and the birth a new nation within the next one year, together with other like-minded parties and leaders. I am counting on your support. The country is looking up to us for leadership.
I thank you.