We come to the end of this year and the start of 2017. It is a time to take stock of what has passed, the lessons learnt, sometimes at great cost, and, of course, our triumphs as a people and as families.
We have an election in a few months. It will be my great privilege to run as a candidate to remain your President for another term. My reason for running is to complete the works that we have started with great energy, and to ensure that this nation can continue to rise in the world.
It remains the greatest privilege of my life to serve as your President and Commander-in-Chief. In this position I have a unique vantage point of our country and the world.
Kenya is unique in Africa, and much of the world, for being a country that can fight global terrorism while strengthening democracy. For having undertaken devolution faster and more comprehensively than almost any country that has undertaken it in the last century. For having an economy that has continued to grow in the middle of a global slump.
We are a country whose political and economic importance to the world is growing. Almost all the leaders of the UN Security Council and the Group of 7 largest economies have come to visit us. Not for show, but reflecting the place we increasingly enjoy in the world: our central role in regional peace and stability, our leadership on matters of environmental protection and the development of renewable energy resources.
There are over 60 major global companies with their regional or continental headquarters in Kenya. They tell me that their Kenyan staff are as competitive as the best the world has to offer. From here, they reach into every part of the continent, aided by our improving infrastructure, and the skills and hard work of our people.
We are a country on the move, and I am proud that the efforts of my administration have had a lot to do with this advanced stature and achievement. We are a developing country in the poorest continent in the world, we are a country in one of the toughest and most conflict-prone regions.
Great nations with wealth and jobs for all are not built quickly or easily. But I am proud of what we have achieved in a mere fifty years, the wise decisions we have made as a people that have kept us from the successful coups and disastrous wars that too many of our neighbours have suffered from.
We must be able to remember where we have come from and how much we have achieved even as we continue to urgently undertake a process of transformation during this generation and the ones to come.
Fellow Kenyans, We require morale and hopefulness if we are to harness our energies and work toward the vision of a prosperous, secure and fair Kenya that every generation of Kenyans has worked toward and passed on to their children. I am profoundly aware that we are a country with serious challenges to overcome.
Our country remains under threat from global terrorism even as my administration’s policies and investments have minimized the number and severity of attacks.
There are too few jobs for our young people who have become even more educated.
Too many families are suffering from alcoholism among fathers and sons; it is why I have enhanced efforts to eliminate illegal liquors.
Fellow Kenyans, While we have made strong investments in health and maternal and infant mortality, too many Kenyans are still dying from preventable and treatable diseases. I have seen the suffering of patients as doctors go on strike. We have worked hard to arrive at a workable solution with the doctors but there are limits to what the government can manage and still be a responsible manager of the people’s finances.
We continue to make every available legal effort to prevent and deal with corruption in the public service. The multi-agency approach has continued to bring more cases against senior officials suspected of fraud and theft. I have been, and remain, unequivocal that we must go beyond arrests and prosecutions, to convictions. To this end, I am heartened that the new Chief Justice has risen to the challenge I made to all branches of government by assuring us that the rich and powerful accused will not be allowed to abuse the court process to delay justice.
I am also glad that the Private Sector raised its hand and crafted a corruption law that has serious consequences for businesses that corrupt public servants. Parliament has played its role by passing the Bill and I believe that it will make a large impact against this damaging vice.
One pending matter from 2016 concerns the management of our team at the Rio Olympics. I have received the findings, which have two sets of recommendations. One is reform of Sport, including with criteria for team selection for major events.
Secondly, the Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewing the file in order to decide whether evidence exists to take further action on the top leadership of the Sports ministry. We promised accountability and someone will be held to account.
What I have learned this year, ladies and gentlemen, is that there is no silver bullet for corruption. Efforts must be sustained and undertaken in multiple sectors and levels. Rooting out this crime will not come overnight, just as it did not rise overnight but has been with us for many years.
I have also learnt that progress is delayed when the fight against corruption is politicized and cynical lies and smears utilized for narrow political interests.
Fellow Kenyans, I have also been witness to a Kenya that is progressing by leaps and bounds. At the heart of our efforts are jobs and opportunities for our young people. They are our children, our brothers and sisters, and they make up the largest segment of our population. Our success as a nation will be judged by the kind of jobs we help them gain.
The new railway we are building from Mombasa and the many roads we are opening, while we improve others, are not merely to transport goods. They are to ensure that today’s enterprises can be more productive and competitive, and that they will therefore create more jobs for our youth. They help us compete with the other countries across the world that are looking to attract the kind of investors who build factories and hotels that produce decent jobs for well-educated young people.
We have ensured the most honest national exams in many years. Not just to be strict, but to ensure that our young people’s efforts are reflected in their results.
That those who can afford to cheat in exams do not rob opportunities from those who are hardworking and honest.
Fellow Kenyans, In 2016, millions more Kenyans slept in homes with electricity and walked home in the increased security of street lights. Millions of children did their homework at night under bright lights when a few years ago their families slept early to save the kerosene in their lamps.
In the past year, millions of Kenyans who would have suffered from malaria escaped courtesy of our efforts to increase the supply of malaria nets. This reduced days of work and school lost, and it saved many lives. We have improved public hospitals and put in place medical equipment that Kenyans would in the past have needed to travel to Nairobi at great expense to access. There is still far to go to make this a healthy nation, but we are moving quickly in the right direction. Again, we do all this knowing that we must be healthy if our people are to be prosperous and employed.
Our efforts are making headway compared to the rest of the world. The first Global Youth Development Index noted that Kenya has made the greatest strides in improving the conditions of young people in the past 5 years. The score for Africa was low compared to the rest of the world, but our continent is gaining ground the fastest and Kenya is leading the continent.
Change does not come overnight, especially when we are digging ourselves out of the immense poverty, ignorance and conflict that came from almost a century of colonial oppression and centuries of the damaging legacy of slavery.
Fellow Kenyans, I am proud of my administration’s record. In August, I know it will be clear to most Kenyans that we have managed to do more than any previous administration, and more than most other countries with a comparable profile.
Like you, I am impatient to do more; to be able to tie the multiple projects and initiatives we have undertaken into a powerful engine of investment and industrialization. So that at the end of the next term which I will ask Kenyans to grant me, we will have an economy that is truly a Lion in terms of the goods and services it produces. Young Kenyans will have many more opportunities and jobs as we continue to work to achieve this.
Having said that, I want to also say to all Kenyans: We will not allow our efforts and those of Kenyans to be destroyed by politicians who seem to have embraced the lesson that confrontation and provocation are the only way for them to operate politically. They have announced demonstrations and even the so-called “mass action” in the coming days. Let us be honest with one another when assessing what they mean by mass action.
In the past when the same politicians have used this phrase, they have meant violence is on the way. I tell our young people, do not allow yourselves to be used so badly. These people care nothing for you their way is the way of division and agitation, not development and building.
We must also be honest in assessing their actions since the last election. They refused to accept in good faith the results of the last election. They have kept up a hue and cry that they were the victims of rigging despite no credible election observer agreeing. They have threatened to make Kenya ungovernable. They have shouted insults in rallies and held the Presidency — which belongs to all Kenyans — in contempt. They have even in the past threatened to march to the Seat of Government and overthrow the government of the people. This is not opposition politics, this is disruption and undermining of a country.
I reject these tactics and want to urge all Kenyans to reject them as well. Until when must we play with the fire of violence to get power-hungry individuals into office?
As we enter the election circle, l call on all Kenyans to be peaceful and on all leaders to preach peace during the campaigns. Let me repeat this. We will hold elections in August 2017.
The elections will be free, fair and transparent. We expect all contestants to accept the results and play their role in building a Kenya of the future.
We have urgent business with a bright future for our people. The countries of the world that have gotten rich in the last fifty years we have been independent, are countries that valued stability and economic performance.
They worked on their infrastructure. They made their education systems world class. They provided security to their population. They kept political conflict to a minimum, and focused most of their arguments on the economic strategies that should be undertaken. They were impatient with poverty and did not invite the lies of politicians who claimed that their solution was in the politics of division through lies and cynicism.
I want to let every Kenyan know that I will not allow anyone to drive our country into violence. We will fight such efforts with every legal and political tool at our disposal. We have not worked this hard as a people to be diverted to a useless and violent destination by individuals who have so little to offer.
I will also not allow anyone, foreign or domestic interfere with the will of the people. The days of playing games with this country are over. We are a proud African people, the fathers and mothers of the world. It is here on this continent that civilization was born, it is here where the diversity and cultural heritage is the greatest in the world. It is here that the world shall find an engine for growth and prosperity in our young and well educated population, and our abundance of resources.
It is how to ensure that this is done that sustains me and pushes me to make every effort for Kenyans. Let me tell you what I see in my mind’s eye whenever I think of what we are trying to build.
A Kenya that is industrialized and where a decent job is available to anyone qualified and seeking it. We will be a Kenya whose people have the education to innovate, invent and deliver world class goods and services. We shall sustain our economic growth so that we shall rise into Africa’s leading destination for investment in manufacturing, logistics, tourism and education. We will be secure and an anchor for stability in a region that will have overcome its destructive conflicts.
None of this will come overnight. But considering how far we have come in the last four years, I know that we will make giant strides in the next few years. I will travel to every corner of this country in the coming months. I will listen to your concerns and work with you to make things better for you and your family. I invite all of you, and especially those in the opposition, to join me in the work of making our country continue to reach for its destiny of greatness.
2017 is our year of being honest and sober. Firm in not being swayed and exploited. And firm in taking strong steps to secure the safety of our citizens and their property. Elections come and go, but Kenya and our families remain. Together, we are strong. I wish you a 2017 of unity, of security and growing prosperity.