President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have changed tack on his governance style from a Nairobi-centric government to spending extended period in various regions, after it emerged that he is now headed to Central Kenya after nearly a month at the Coast.
Previously, the President was scheduled to visit only Nyeri county, but the tour now includes Kirinyaga, Laikipia and Nyandarua counties.
Officials say this is a new strategy to ensure the President gets first-hand information on the pulse of the nation.
After the Central tour, the President will tour yet another region, as yet undecided, for an extended stay. In Central, the President will be staying at Sagana State Lodge.
Meanwhile, the outfit that catapulted Mr Kenyatta to State House through a “digital” campaign has also been reset and has started making quiet movements at the grassroots.
Team Uhuru, which is registered as a foundation, has started rolling out projects at county levels, with a major yet-to-be identified event slated for the national level.
Team Uhuru has the President’s private secretary, Mr Jomo Gecaga, as its patron.
The methods it is using include subtle endeavours such as organising sport events and training youth on how to start businesses, and direct ones like identifying youth with leadership qualities and supporting them ahead of the next elections.
One of its initiatives is to construct permanent classes and deliver desks in a primary school in Mwingi North.
Speaking when he launched a street lighting project in Mombasa on Friday evening, the President said he would not be staying in Nairobi all the time.
“People are asking why I have stayed in Mombasa for so long. Isn’t Mombasa part of Kenya? We will stay put and do the work at hand. After that, we will go to Garrisa, Nakuru and Kisumu. All these places are in Kenya and there’s nowhere we can’t go and camp,” he said.
The new governance style comes after the President received much criticism for making frequent foreign trips, which Kenyans on social media claimed were unnecessary.
The President’s close ally, former Gatanga MP David Murathe, said this style was to be expected since the President has constantly remained in touch with wananchi.
“The Jubilee government has now laid the foundations of its promises. The President will travel across the country monitoring projects as they take shape,” said Mr Murathe.
CENTRAL KENYA ISSUES
Issues facing Central region include poor prices of coffee, tea and horticulture, bad roads, lack of water and Mau Mau villages-cum-slums.
Kirinyaga Governor Joseph Ndathi cited the low prices of coffee, horticulture and rice as the main concerns.
He said construction of an upstream dam in Gichugu to aid expansion of Mwea plains were rice is grown will need the President’s intervention since the project — funded by the Japanese government to the tune of Sh12 billion — is facing a Sh6 billion deficit. Only the national Treasury can pump in the required money.
“This money can be provided progressively, and that will be on our agenda with the President,” he said. The governor said he would ask for inclusion of 200km of roads in the upcoming ambitious roads projects by the national government.
Gichugu MP Njogu Barua said coffee prices remain below the break-even point due to poor marketing. Only the national government can rectify this, he said.
“Our people provide slave labour; we wish to ensure that a farmer with 100 stems can get value for his crop; this can be cured only by proper marketing,” he said.
In Nyeri, the President will tackle the issue of Mau Mau villages which have degenerated into slums, with generations of Mau Mau children occupying them.
The colonial government sequestered people in controlled villages and, after Independence, some people remained there, giving rise to slums.
Nyeri County MP Priscilla Nyokabi said they would also request completion of Kibaki-era projects which are in limbo.
They include revamping of Othaya Hospital, Karatina and Chaka markets, Kieni tarmac road and expansion of the Nyeri airstrip.
Mr Waweru Nderitu, (Ndaragwa MP) said Nyandarua priorities include roads, water and electricity connectivity.
“We need a mega dam that will supply water to the increasing population,” he said.
The President will also be faced with the recurring question of “lost” Cabinet seats after last year’s reshuffle, especially concerning Nyeri and Kirinyaga.
Mr Michael Kamau from Nyeri, who has since been charged in court, and Ms Anne Waiguru from Kirinyaga, resigned amid graft allegations.
Laikipia’s Mwangi Kiunjuri and Embu’s Sicily Kariuki were the major beneficiaries.
But Kirinyaga got a consolation after Mr Karanja Kibicho was moved from Foreign Affairs as Principal Secretary to the powerful and influential Interior docket.