State House, Nairobi today responded to criticism last weekend from former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who accused the Jubilee government of not serious about the Diaspora agenda.
Speaking at a town hall meeting with Kenyans in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, Raila cited as an example the recent appointment of Dennis Itumbi as the Director Digital, New Media and Diaspora. He criticized the appointment of Itumbi saying as someone who had never lived in the Diaspora Itumbi could not fully understand the Diaspora challenges or needs.
In a statement, the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) said Diaspora interests have been addressed in not only the Director Digital, New Media and Diaspora office but in all 18 ministries in the Jubilee government, and that as a result of the new government’s policy of getting the Diaspora involved in Kenyan affairs, Kenyans living abroad are moving back to take up government positions. The statement further called on the former PM to beter understand the Jubilee agenda, including the Diaspora policy so that he does not speak out of tune.
Here is the statement from the PSCU:
Our attention has been drawn to a statement appearing on Page 9 of the July 29 Daily Nation where former Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused the Jubilee government of not being serious about the Diaspora and its challenges. We refute that claim. We assert that Government is fully committed to involving the Diaspora in nation-building. As testimony of that commitment, there is not only a stand-alone Ministry of Foreign Affairs but Kenya also has embassies in 53 countries across the world catering for Kenyans abroad in addition to global affairs.
The Government has mainstreamed issues of the Diaspora across all the 18 ministries in its new structure, the same way it has with issues of the youth, women and children. The Diaspora interests are not addressed by a single directorate as the former Prime Minister would want to mislead Kenyans. It is worth noting that as a result of Government’s policy of involving the Diaspora in its affairs, many Kenyans are returning home to take up positions in Government and elsewhereafter staying abroad for many years. This reverse of brain-drain is an indicator that issues of the Diaspora are accorded the importance they deserve by Government.
We would like to inform the former Prime Minister that the Digital, New Media and Diaspora directorate within the Presidential Strategic Communication Unity (PSCU) headed by Dennis Itumbi is an important cog in maintaining communication with Kenyans abroad and engaging with the issues that affect them. That said, that directorate is a small part of the Government’s bigger structure that is involved in matters related to the Diaspora. The former Prime Minister is invited to better understand the Jubilee Government agenda, including on Diaspora matters, so that he does not speak out of tune.