One aspect of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s delivery of Wednesday’s State of the Nation address was that it drew a lot of respect from both the government and the opposition, to whom most of my kudos go.
A second aspect of the speech was its sincerity as it was divided into two parts — problems successfully solved or work in progress and problems yet to be solved or embarked on.
On the side of success were industries such as Pan African Paper Mills, Webuye, and Volkswagen Assembly Plant Kenya in Thika. The industries mentioned were too few. Government should take industrialisation as a flagship project upon which to base the economic development of the country.
In talking industries, we cannot forget that industrialisation is the key to ending unemployment, and getting into the First World because we have industrial estates in towns such as Eldoret, Nakuru and Thika, which can be revived and set going immediately.
But to industrialise, there must be electricity and technology countrywide or industrialisation will remain a pipe dream. Here, we must congratulate the Jubilee government for doing its best to connect power across the country. Without electricity, there is nothing much else that the country can do in terms of development.
After electricity, the government has done well in laying down the road network, whose backbone will probably be the standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali. The only thing Kenya must ensure is that we shall acquire this infrastructure at the most favourable cost possible. Corruption must not be allowed to profit from a project that is as sacrosanct as this.
From laying down the structures of the economy, the country should build a network of moral and political values upon which we shall build our democracy and society. In the final analysis, our political and moral superstructure will be just as important as our economic structure or we shall cannibalise the very economy that is meant to sustain us.
But to protect both our moral fibre and economy, the Jubilee government has declared war on drugs, warning that anyone who engages in it will suffer dire consequences. Unfortunately, while spread of drug addiction continues to victimize more young people, the number of mega drug dealers arrested and jailed for the crime continues to be less than ten. Of course construction of the Huduma Centres is important and worth celebrating. But it is not the heart without which the nation will stop or die.
With only the above successes, maybe the Jubilee Party would not deserve an extension of its mandate for another five years. But there is also an array of other problems that Jubilee would be trusted to solve better than the opposition, making it deserve the mandate to solve these problems better. These problems rather than successes of Jubilee are what justify Jubilee to have an extension of its mandate. Were NASA to show they can solve these problems better than Jubilee, then they would deserve the mandate to govern Kenya for five years.
Though not mentioned in the speech, the problem that most qualifies Jubilee for an extension of mandate is the drought and the imminent famine currently facing the country. With many counties facing drought already, there is no national problem whose solution is more urgent than making sure that populations of drought-stricken areas are saved and fed.
The other problem that must be urgently solved is the economic stagnation of our rural centres which all suffer from a terrible state of dirt that is littered everywhere, lack of bitumen floor in any of them, terrible earthen roads, lack of functioning health centres and dispensaries and unexplainable lack of clean water. The counties should clean up these centers by taking more money there, or they should surrender them to the central government.
Another shocking problem that was revealed by the President is the huge gap between the poor and the rich, whose less than two per cent are gobbling more than 50 per cent of the national resources. It will be difficult to call Kenya a just society if the rich continue to eat most of our resources, even if the poor victims of this greed continue to cheer them. At this juncture, let me support SRC’s call for all high sectors of society to reduce their salaries in order to make us better people and allow other people a chance to live better.
Ultimately, corruption is the elephant that Jubilee must drive out of the room. Jubilee must do everything in its power to eliminate corruption at all levels if it really wants to develop this country.
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