Deputy President William Ruto has urged leaders along the Kerio Valley to use cultural exchange programmes to preach peace and reconciliation among communities living in the region.
Mr Ruto said communities in the valley of Turkana; West Pokot, Baringo and Samburu Counties could use cultural festivities to preach peaceful coexistence among themselves and with their neighbours.
Speaking during the Turkana Cultural Festival held in Lodwar town on Friday, Mr Ruto urged leaders and residents in the region to use the positive part of their culture for peace and harmonious relations.
“Let’s use the positive part of our culture for peace and harmonious coexistence amongst ourselves and with our neighbours,” said Mr Ruto.
Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Senate deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, eight Governors and a host of MPs from across the country attended the function.
The Governors were Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Moses Lenolkula (Samburu), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Uasin-Gishu deputy governor (Daniel Chemno).
Others were dignitaries from Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda.
Mr Ruto assured communities along the Kerio Valley that the Government will ensure peace and stability prevailed in the area at all times.
“It is your right to be protected. We don’t ration peace and security. It is the responsibility of the Government to protect the lives of its people and their property. That’s our work,” said Mr Ruto.
“And we will be firm, we will be resolve and we will be unwavering in ensuring peace is achieved in this region among other parts of the country,” added Mr Ruto.
He said it is through teamwork and unity that challenges of insecurity along the Kerio valley could be solved.
The Deputy President, at the same time, said the Government would work closely with leaders in solving the problems associated with oil.
Responding to appeals by Turkana leaders including MP James Lomenen (Turkana South) that the Government removes the cap on the county’s share of revenue from oil exploration, Mr Ruto said ways were being sought to address the issue once and for all.
He said the move by the Government through the Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production Bill to alter percentages from five to ten in the community allocation of the national government’s share, was a clear indication that ‘we are committed to solving the issue’.
“We have done a lot of adjustments to the 2015 bill for the benefit of the people of Turkana. The remaining part of it which includes capping is a small matter that can be solved amicably,” said Mr Ruto.
He said the Government deliberately appointed Mr John Munyes from the county as Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary to help solve problems pertaining to the sector since he well understands the issues raised by the leaders.
Mr Nanok said leaders along the Kerio Valley have resolved to work together in addressing the challenges of insecurity caused by banditry and cattle rustling activities.
“As leaders we have decided to show the people a peaceful way that can accelerate development and help them improve their lives,” said Mr Nanok.
“We want to assure the Government that as leaders from this region, we are putting in place proper mechanisms aimed at ending the perennial problems of cattle rustling,” said Mr Nanok.
He said he resolved to work with the Government despite being elected in an opposition ticket, saying elections were over and it was time to focus on development.
“After the last elections, I decided to work with Jubilee and never participated in the ‘resist’ of some products as demanded by the Opposition leaders because we want to focus our energies on development,” said Mr Nanok.
Mr Wamalwa said it was impressive that the county governments were working closely with the national government in addressing challenges facing the people.
He said the Government was working round the clock to make sure that the challenge of food insecurity being witnessed along the valley was addressed through construction of dams for irrigation purposes.
Mr Lomenen urged the Government to consider removing capping on the county’s share of revenue from oil exploration in the area, saying capping would scuttle development because there would be no enough funds for development.
“The only issue that we are requesting the Government to help us is to to remove capping on our county’s share of revenue from oil exploration,” said Mr Lomenen.
Prof Kindiki praised the close working relationship between the counties and the national government in exploring ways of solving problems facing the people.
“I want to assure you that as Senate, counties have our support on the good working relations with the national government so that we help address problems facing our people,” said Prof Kindiki
The leaders said they would rally behind the leadership of the Deputy President for the top seat in 2022 when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term comes to an end.
“As leaders we will support Mr Ruto because he is committed on the unity and development of all Kenyans,” said Mr Njuki.
Mr Nanok and Mr Lenku said the people of Turkana will support leaders who were committed to solving problems facing the people but not who were spending most of their time in politics at the expense of development.