President Kenyatta begins a tour of his central region stronghold Wednesday with a full in-tray as residents and leaders jostle to highlight issues they want the Head of State to resolve.
His visit has stirred up differences among leaders in Nyeri on the issues they want tackled as farmers and squatters tabled a list of demands amidst feelings that the President has taken the region for granted yet it forms the bedrock of his support.
The five counties of central region alone contributed two million of the six million votes President Kenyatta bagged in the 2013 election.
The President is expected on Wednesday and will hold a meeting with governors at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri.
This is part of the summit that brings together the central government and the Council of Governors.
On Friday, the President will preside over the pass-out of recruits at the Kiganjo Police Training College and attend Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s homecoming on Saturday. He will leave the region on Sunday morning.
“The events are in his diary, which is provisional,” confirmed State House Spokesperson manoah Esipisu.
But the President will find a discontented region. These include declining coffee prices, deteriorating infrastructure, lack of clear directions on Jubilee party officials, descendants of Mau Mau fighters who are still squatters and the failure of the war on alcohol started by the President.
On Monday, over 400 coffee farmers from Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri met at Kerugoya Stadium where they asked the President to write off the debts owed by their cooperatives and save them from those strangling coffee farming.
The farmers said one kilogramme of coffee should be paid between Sh150 and Sh200 for them to break even. Coffee farmer and Ndia MP Stephen Ngare said the President should address the coffee farmers’ plight.
“Unless the President listens to the farmers and act urgently, coffee farming will be doomed. Some farmers have started uprooting it,” he said.
On squatters, Nyeri MPs have differed over a list of those who should receive title deeds when the president issues them documents to colonial villages squatters.
The leaders accused the county government of drawing up its own list of squatters instead of incorporating all the landless in the county.
“We want all the landless to be settled but not a section,” said Othaya MP, Mary Wambui. Her sentiments were supported by Nyeri Town legislator Esther Murugi.
But Nyeri County Government acting lands executive Robert Thuo said the list has 314 squatters from all over the county.
However, he said the list is still being audited to weed out fakes. The other issues likely to dominate the President’s to-do list is the resurgence of alcoholism, months after the president launched a crackdown on manufacturers of illicit brew.
“This is a cancer that must be cured and a monster that must be slayed,” said Mr Kiunjuri.
The other vexing issue will be legacy projects that were started by former President Mwai Kibaki which have not been complete.
Mukurweini MP Kabando Wa Kabando said construction of three roads and the upgrade of Mukurweini hospital started by Mr Kibaki had stalled. Contractors who worked on roads have also not been paid two years after the completing the roads.