In what could be seen as a mischievous move to demean NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s presidential ambitions, the Jubilee administration has invited the opposition leader to register for the Inua Jamii social protection cash programme that benefits senior citizens above the age of 70 years.
Curiously, the government also wants to appoint Raila as one of the programme’s ambassadors. This has not been taken lightly by his supporters, who view this being disrespectful to Raila’s status in society and a presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections.
Others invited to partake of the government’s cash transfer programme that seeks to cushion Kenyans from the vagaries of life are former presidents Daniel Arab Moi and Mwai Kibaki and former Vice President Moody Awori.
The trio are, however, already beneficiaries of a generous statutory retirement benefits package for retired State officers, which Raila and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka were denied on account that they must first quit active politics.
In a letter signed by Naomi Omari, the Regional Coordinator for Kibra, the government informs Raila that he is qualified to benefit from the programme that is set to automatically benefit all Kenyans above the age of 70 from next year.
It reads in part: “As you may be aware OPCT (Old Persons Cash Transfer) program was started and funded by the Jubilee government to provide regular and predictable cash to older people (70 years and above). The jubilee government is also on its final stages of making the program automatic to all older people above 70 years of age across the nation.”
“With respect to your status as an older person and also the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, we wish to invite you to enroll under the program and also become an ambassador of the initiative,” the letter reads further.
Omari then asks Raila register at Kibra at a time of his convenience so that they can enter his information to the biometric system.
Kenyans on n social media quickly responded to the letter – also sent to Moi, Kibaki and Awori by the programme’s cordinators in Nyeri, Baringo Central and Busia respective in similar wording – with one @EchoMwitu saying: “Being enrolled under Inua Jamii cash transfer for 70yrs and above means Raila & allies will not rely on handouts from friends to survive.”
The Inua Jamii Cash Programme was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta with the government allocating an annual budget of Sh12 billion.
The programme was initially meant to benefit the elderly persons over 65 years old, the disabled persons in the society, the OVCS (Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Kenya) and extremely poor people.
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The social welfare programme works by remitting cash via mobile phones through Safaricom. Beneficiaries of the programme receive monthly payments for survival and growth purposes.
Raila is yet respond to the letter neither were he able to determine whether it had reached him.
However, President Kenyatta has on the campaign trail variously urged him to retire, saying the government will take care of his interests. The President says the programme is to ensure that the aged protect their dignity and are in control of their lives.
Raila is a person of means
The decision to include the other leaders is seen as depicting it as not being politically motivated.
Raila, like the others, is known to be a person of means with some estimates putting his wealth at over Kshs 100 billion and hence would not need government stipends to live comfortably were he to quit politics either now or in the future.
He has interests in liquefied gas cylinder manufacturing (the East African Spectre), industrial ethanol production and petroleum import and distribution, among others.
Hundreds of Kenyans have begun registering from the programme so as to benefit from next year.
Here is the letter to Raila: