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Babu Owino Picks Fight With Uhuru After Govt Warning

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Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili alias, Babu Owino, addressed the media at the Parliament buildings on Wednesday, November 20, where he called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to write off current student loans.

Babu, in defence of the reluctance by students and alumni to repay loans, contrasted the treatment of the Military, the National Police, the National Youth Service, and the Kenya Wildlife Service by the government with its treatment of students.

“When the military is being trained, they are afforded free meals, free accommodation, non-refundable money meant for training. That is the military, the police service, the NYS, and the KWS,” Babu began.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Babu Owino shake hands on May 2, 2018. Babu asked the President to write off student loans owed to HELB.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Babu Owino share a light moment outside Parliament buildings on May 2, 2018. 

“On a daily basis, the NYS consumes between 500 and 1000 cows free of charge. Every military officer, while undergoing training, consumes one cow. Now we ask a simple question, why are students being forced to pay these loans?” he posed.

The former Student Organisation of Nairobi University (Sonu) leader expressed his displeasure at the government pressing students and alumni on loan repayments, yet in his view, no government agency followed up on money used to train officers.

“Why are students, who are the major stakeholders of this economy being followed by the government? We want to call upon the president of this country to waive…to write off, loans held by comrades,” Babu reiterated.

He reminded the president of the government’s intervention in various state-owned institutions. 

“President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta himself agreed to write off KQ’s loan, which is in a tune of billions, loans by the Mumias Sugar Company, the coffee farmers union, and the tea farmers union. Why not the student loans?” he posed.

Babu’s call for intervention by the president came after Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) put out a statement on November 18 that it would publish the names and faces of loan defaulters in newspapers.

Babu Owino addresses the press at the University of Nairobi on Monday, October 31, 2017, while flanked by SONU officials
Babu Owino addresses the press at the University of Nairobi on Monday, October 31, 2017, while flanked by SONU officials

The move by HELB attracted backlash from a number of leaders among them Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, who took to social media to question the directive by the state parastatal.

“Helb, Seriously? Today we have an integrated financial management system. This means today you know everyone who’s employed or has a business because they have to have a PIN number that connects to a bank account that shows whether one has income,” Wambugu critiqued.

“Any graduate who doesn’t have a PIN, and active bank account, does not have a job. So scaring them will not make him pay. Leave them alone.” He added.

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