In ODM, we’ve made freedom a reality to Kenyans

By Ali Hassan Joho

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is celebrating 10 years as the largest political party by elected representatives in Kenya. ODM has contested two presidential elections, won both, but failed to form national government.

This failure has been as a result of entrenched systems resisting change. While we started out as a radical political force out to change Kenya in 100 days, we were soon met with equally resistant and reactionary forces ready to stop at nothing to maintain the status quo. The 100 days are now 10 years.

As deputy party leader of ODM, I am convinced the party is in the right shape to form the next national government. ODM has a well-defined ideological standpoint from where to engage, rally and mobilise for change. Age has ripened our party.

In ODM, we’ve made freedom a reality to Kenyans. Over the years, ODM has rejected the idea of begging for rights, whether political, social, religious or minority rights. ODM has forced economic inclusion and sharing of our country’s national resources. It is no longer optional. That’s why in Mombasa last weekend, I challenged those who think development is tokenism to our regions to stop allocating resources to counties if that option exists. It does not.

The ODM party, beyond just being an alternative to Jubilee, has the historical capital to resolve, with finality, some of the longstanding injustices affecting marginalised communities and isolated groups in Kenya.

For Kenya to develop and industrialise into a middle income country, all regions must be viewed as “high-potential” areas and invested in massively. Nothing is more archaic in this modern age than seeing national development laced in ethnic undertones.

RADICAL SYSTEM

ODM is the party of a radical system of government called devolution. For all the talk about devolution, without a national government that believes in the counties as new growth engines of our country, very little can be achieved. This has been the experience of the first four years of devolution under Jubilee. That’s why we want to capture national government so that we empower devolution.

In each region, the scorecard of the Jubilee regime is as fuzzy as it can get. In some regions, like the coast, it has been four years of outright economic sabotage. We have seen increased political rhetoric and outright loyalty buying. What we have not seen are sound economic policies and programmes backed by sufficient budgetary allocations to transform the region. The same goes for other regions of our country. There are quarters still thinking they can roll back time and scuttle devolution. So long as ODM remains alive, that is impossible.

Finally, it is fitting for ODM supporters to be merry considering that a decade in Kenya’s complex political scene has not taken its toll on the party. The march is on. Let’s move forward together.

 Ali Hassan Joho is Deputy Party Leader of Orange Democratic Movement and the governor of Mombasa; Twitter: @HassanAliJoho. This Article appeared on Nation.