Unlike previous occasions, this year’s State of the Nation address has an ominous ring to everything about it.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to deliver the address on Thursday against the backdrop of a raging turmoil in the ruling Jubilee Party over the renewed war on corruption that threatens the stability of Jubilee party.
However, there is talk that the President may use the occasion to deliver a tough message on corruption that could alter the political landscape.
Article 132 of the constitution mandates the President to address parliament at least once a year, during which he is supposed to report on all the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realisation of national values, enhancement of national security and how the government has dealt with its international obligations.
The constitution further mandates the government to publish in the Kenya Gazette the details of such measures and submit a report for debate to the National Assembly on the progress made in fulfilling these international obligations.
The state of the economy, implementation of the President’s flagship projects under the Big Four Agenda and corruption rank high among the issues that are likely to dominate the President’s speech when he finally walks into the chamber to deliver the address. With just three years left in his final term, it is also expected that President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda will get significant space in the address that is widely anticipated.
The implementation of the National Integrated Information Systems (NIIMS), otherwise known as “Huduma Namba”, is also likely to feature in the address in the face of complaints by senators that it is being implemented without the necessary legal support.
On Sunday, National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale said parliament had enacted all the necessary legislations that are key to the implementation of the Big Four.
Mr Duale also expects the President to present his legislative policy for the next one year, declare the war on corruption and deliver his message on national unity and reconciliation as part of his legacy.
In 2015, the President used the address to sack five cabinet secretaries who had been mentioned in corruption at that time. Ms Charity Ngilu, Davis Chirchir, Felix Koskei, Kazungu Kambi and Michael Kamau were eased out of cabinet after they were linked to scandals in their ministries.
While, in the past, the President has used the address to discuss general issues, things have changed dramatically over the past year with all likelihood that he will use it to escalate rhetoric surrounding the war on corruption, even as waging it has placed him at loggerheads with his deputy, Dr William Ruto, as well as a section of his own MPs.
In any case, it is unlikely that the President will veer from an issue that he has in recent times elevated to a national campaign, declaring, while on a visit to Namibia, that he will spare no one, whether sibling or even “closest political ally”.
On the other hand, the public expects him to devote a substantial part of his address to giving a report card on the war on corruption and clarify why it seems to be stuttering despite the political will that he has demonstrated.
MPs Dan Maanzo (Makueni) and Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) told the Nation that they are hoping that the President will give a proper account on the war on corruption.
Mr Osotsi noted that he expects the President to clarify on the issue of the Building Bridges Initiative and clarify whether a referendum will be held this year.
“We hope the President will use the opportunity to explain to the country how he will sustain the war and ensure that the culprits are convicted,” he said.
While hailing the President in his commitment to the graft war, Mr Maanzo urged the President not to relent in his determination to deal with the monster of corruption.