Hypocrisy is one of the greatest sins of them all. That is why listening to Presidential candidate Raila Odinga wax lyrical about the regional maize crisis and corruption is so disgraceful.
Raila Odinga, has indeed spent months talking about how he will fight corruption. Yet as has been proven over and over again, he is sadly up to his neck in decades of scandals, raping and ripping off the Kenyan people, including in the maize field. It all started with his father. For those historians out West, the Luo Thrift and Trading Company Limited, will certainly ring bills. This infamous episode saw tens upon tens of millions of Shillings collected by the Odinga family from the Luo community, supposedly to create a special financial entity. The family were supposed to raise money, invest, and bring the profits back to the community. This of course never happened.
The money was famously injected in a host of scams, the Nyanza Sugar Belt, mills across Nyanza, buildings in Kisumu, as well as a printing press and a weekly newspaper called ‘The Nyanza Times’. The spending spree even included a public transport company. Somehow, quietly and slowly, utilizing the infamous salami slicing approach, the hard-earned public money of the Luo community found its way to the pockets of the Odinga family, as all of the aforementioned assets became their personal, private property.
That was just the beginning. In 1996 he repeated the tried and tested method. Once again, returning to the masses of his large tribe, once again collecting millions of shillings to buy the Kenya Chemical & Food Corporation Ltd also, now commonly known as the Kisumu Molasses Plant. What happened? You guessed it, this also became the private property of the Odingas? No dividends and no pesa for the Luo community.
Further stinky activity was evident when Raila’s Spectre international Limited, despite being one of the higher bidders in the tender, received hundreds of acres of public land where the Molasses Plant in Kisumu stands. This of course was all passed into the private hands of the Odinga family. Still no dividends, still no pesa for the Luo community.
Fast-forwarding to 2009, and Raila is now Prime Minister of Kenya. With the country again facing a food crisis, and shortages reaching dangerous new lows, the decision was made to import from South Africa. Thousands of tonnes of maize would arrive on one notorious ship. The problem was that this ship contained maize with extremely dangerous levels of aluminum phosphide. A responsible leader would have turned the boat away, or destroyed the poisonous foodstuffs. Not Mr. Odinga. The prime minister ordered the quiet unloading of the grain. It was then distributed far and wide. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were exposed to this dodgy grain, many falling sick. Raila tried to deny it. It’s amazing that Raila can even utter the word “maize” today, because the scandals just kept on coming. In leaked reports found all over WikiLeaks, former American ambassador Michael Rannerberger reported that Raila’s family was involved in the 2009 maize scandal, when yet again Kenya found itself with serious shortages of its most basic food item. On Wikileaks, you can find this damaging statement from the US Ambassador:
“We have credible reports that members of Odinga’s family presumably with his knowledge and involvement were involved in the maize scandal.” Rannerberger then goes on to criticize Raila Odinga for trying to deflect attention by blaming current DP William Ruto.
Unbelievably, Fidel Odinga, Raila’s son, was exporting thousands of tonnes of government maize from the NCPB, at the height of the crisis! Once again, Kenyans went hungry, while the Odinga family got rich.
Since then, Odinga has been involved in the 2009 Triton Oil Sandal, the 2010, Tobacco Tax Evasion Scandal (which the BBC even made a program about), and the ‘Kazi Kwa Vijana’ Project Financial Scam of the same year. In fact, the Kazi Kwa Vjana program is particularly shocking when we take into account how many young Kenyans still have faith in Raila. This World Bank program, administered by PM Raila Odinga ‘lost’ millions of shillings which were supposed to go to job creation for Kenyan youth, but instead ended up in “the Prime Minister’s Office”.
While, of course, none of our political leaders are perfect (far from it!), Kenyans deserve better than the pure hypocrisy of the scandal ridden Raila Odinga.