In an interview years back, former South African leader during apartheid FW de Klerk was asked whether he regretted his February 2, 1990, speech and consequent release of the then most prominent political prisoner, Nelson Mandela.
His response: “If we had not changed in the manner we did, South Africa would be completely isolated. The majority of people in the world would be intent on overthrowing the government. Our economy would be non-existent — we would not be exporting a single case of wine and South African planes would not be allowed to land anywhere. Internally, we would have the equivalent of civil war.”
And in the words of political nemesis-turned-allies President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga, “We refuse to allow our diversity to kill our nation. We refuse to be leaders under whose watch Kenya slid into a failed nation.”
Away from the political prism of the issue, could the alliance be just what Kenya needs for development? Political disquiet has been blamed for the development disparity and inequitable distribution of resources, with justifiable insinuations that Central and Rift Valley have benefitted from milestone projects, courtesy of having the Executive come from these regions.
There has been disquiet in Raila’s Nyanza backyard over the deal; it has not augured well with some of our people.
A number feel even though NASA had three other parties representing two regions other than ODM strongholds, Luos bore the brunt when the political furnace turned too hot. They thus feel they deserve more than just a verbal ceasefire.
But the deal is the best move for our people. In the past five years, Nyanza has got nothing tangible from the ruling administration. In Migori, the President only came once to launch mosquito nets but left in a huff after an unfortunate incident. Deputy President William Ruto frequented Kuria with bags of goodies but snubbed the Luo side of the county, which has so far got nothing.
Homa Bay has a bridge, but that is as far as it goes. Kisumu got promises only as bait for votes during the campaign period and Siaya has nothing tangible from Jubilee. While I am alive to the fact that development should not be pegged to which region is kowtowing to the powers that be, the reality is that those closer to the same powers can influence development in their regions.
My community should embrace the handshake so our region, which has been marginalised for years, can benefit. There are projects that only the national government can initiate. In my county, for instance, as the incumbent MP for Awendo, I am hoping my people, who are mainly sugarcane farmers, can benefit from the same. The people do not want Sony Sugar Company privatised, and maybe when Uhuru visits the region, as we hope he will do soon, we can share our concerns.
The unity pact should help revive Kenya Fishnet, Kikomi, Miwani and Muhoroni in order spur economic growth.
The dalliance could be the panacea to the failed devolution as the two leaders aptly posited that they will bring all the counties together regardless of political affiliation to ensure counties deliver to the people and hold county governments accountable.
As they tour Nyanza, may this be an augury of landmark projects in the region in terms of infrastructure, food and social security et al, the people sure deserve it.
Owino is Awendo MP