President too eager to please Mt Kenya base

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President Uhuru Kenyatta

What you need to know:

  • The President is desperate to feed this blackmail with the “One Man-One Vote-One Shilling slogan.
  • The heavy socio-political cost of marginalisation is there for everyone to see.

Twenty seven senators last week did well to block the revenue sharing formula that sought to cut allocations to some regions and increase that of others.

To say the formula is retrogressive is an understatement. It effectively takes Kenya back to the days the colonial administration concentrated investments in the so-called agriculturally high potential areas and largely neglected the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL).

The logic of this cherry-picking policy, adopted by the successive independence governments, has been robustly challenged by the well-read people.

But the heavy socio-political cost of marginalisation is there for everyone to see.

It has, for instance, given Kenya a security nightmare. Thousands of ill-educated and idle youth in the north and the Coast are always ready to be recruited al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.

The poverty of some areas has been exploited by politicians to perpetrate senseless election-related violence, leading to deaths and displacement of communities.

Kenyans sought to cultivate a more inclusive society by passing the 2010 Constitution, which – among others – devolves some resources and requires equity in the sharing of funds to address the historical injustice.

The past eight years of devolution has seen some transformation of public services in many parts of Kenya. But the ASAL counties still have a long way to go. Wajir, for example, welcomed its first radiologist at the referral hospital just two years ago.

The revenue sharing formula that was taken to the Senate and amended by the Budget Committee is a drag on the marginalised counties’ development path.

The introduction of amendments to address the narrow political rivalries in central Kenya also dilutes it importance.

Its authors have publicly tried to promote it as a national issue, citing the fact that densely populated counties in other parts of the country stand to benefit from additional allocations.

But it is common knowledge that its main objective is to prop up the careers of Mt Kenya politicians loyal to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who fear a wave of ethno-nationalism sparked by a rival group might sweep them out.

The ethno-nationalists are distinguishable by their rabid opposition to Mr Kenyatta’s handshake deal with ODM leader Raila Odinga and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

From the number of angry social media posts by central Kenya people criticising the President, the ethno-nationalist agenda appears to be gaining traction.

To placate the restless base, the President is desperate to feed this blackmail with the “One Man-One Vote-One Shilling slogan. Opposition to the formula in the Senate shows he over-promised.

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