Plans to issue title deeds to the Nubian community in Nairobi’s Kibera slum were Sunday shelved amid fears it could cause tension among residents.
President Kenyatta was expected to preside over the function but his spokesperson, Mr Manoah Isipisu, said the event was not in the diary.
“You cannot cancel what was not even there in the first place. The President was not to have any function at Kibera today (Sunday); to our amazement, we have been seeing these reports in the media and you see the Presidents’ itinerary is not dictated by the Press,” he said.
His sentiments, however, contradicted what Nubian Council of Elders chairman Abdul Issa Faraj told the Nation.
“It is not a cancellation, we have been told by officials at the Lands Ministry that something urgent came up and as such the President could not come; the function had to be rescheduled,” he said
This is the second time Mr Kenyatta is skipping Kibera after plans have been put in place for his visit, other council members said. The elders went into a session after the change of plans.
On Tuesday last week, youths from other communities barricaded roads to protest the impending visit.
They vowed to disrupt it if they were not going to be issued with titles.
A visit to the District Commissioner’s ground yesterday morning revealed an impending visit by the Head of State. Tents had been erected in the area with the presidential dais set up in anticipation of Mr Kenyatta’s attendance.
Sunday, some residents welcomed the news that the rally had been called off and urged the President to reconsider his approach to dealing with the land matter there.
Last week, Lang’ata DC John Elungata chaired a security meeting in the area. The impending President’s visit is also said to have been discussed.
An officer at the Lands Ministry who requested not to be named for fear of contradicting State House, told Nation that as at Friday, everything was ready for the presidential function.
“The Nubians were going to get a communal land title measuring 288 acres. The lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu was going to host the President,” he said
Area MP Ken Okoth called on Mr Kenyatta to sidestep Ms Ngilu in dealing with the Kibera land issue accusing her of politicising it.
“The President should take charge here. His minister has missed the point; she has failed and now wants to use the emotive subject of land in Kibera to settle political scores,” he said.
Senator Mike Sonko yesterday said Nairobi leaders were not consulted on plans to issue title deeds to Nubians in Kibra.
“I was also left in the dark over the issue. The Minister should know that leaders have a right to be consulted,” Mr Sonko said on the sidelines of a fundraising at AIC Jericho Church.