Last Tuesday President Uhuru Kenyatta met the six Nyeri MPs, woman representative, senator, deputy governor and governor. This was after we requested this meeting during the National Music Festivals the previous week at Sagana State Lodge.
During the two-hour meeting, each MP presented key areas in their constituency that we felt could move faster if the Head of State put in a word. The senator and governor then brought in issues that affected the wider county.
In keeping with his decision not to start any new projects before we finish old ones, we focused more on stalled projects and those that were moving slower than they should. The President took note of each issue that we agreed on.
We agreed on many projects that will benefit the residents of Nyeri. We looked at how to commercialise the rare ceramics deposits found there as well as turn the Rev Muhoro School for the Deaf into a major institution for all people living with disability. We looked at Ruringu Stadium, which had stalled in Nyeri town, as well as how to upgrade the Nyaribo Airstrip.
We looked at how to take the Kagumo Teachers’ College back to being a premium teachers’ training college. There were several roads and dams to be completed, colonial village titles to be issued, etc.
On projects connected directly to the Big Four we discussed the launch of Othaya Hospital and upgrading of a number of health centres, the opening of Karatina Market, and the ground-breaking for the Dedan Kimathi Innovation Hub.
We also discussed community initiated and funded irrigation projects that just need a little push to fully roll out. We also agreed that the ongoing coffee reforms ideas be piloted.
One thing that the President made very clear was how extremely pleased he was by the fact that we are able to come together as Nyeri leaders to lobby for development.
According to him, this unity is the way to go to develop our constituencies, counties and nation. This is an important point that we are sharing with colleagues from other parts of the region and the country, especially as we are the first Mt Kenya county to hold this kind of meeting with him since he got into office.
As a county, we are also proud of our ability to strongly disagree on contemporary political issues but to be completely united on our development needs.
The meeting also helps to debunk a myth that was developing, especially across the wider Mt Kenya region. There has been this argument that the President does not have time to meet elected leaders, or listen to them.
(This has been the excuse some have used to explain why they have been ‘forced’ to join the 2022 campaign bandwagon; that they are using the opportunity to lobby for local development).
We can confirm that Uhuru has a lot of time to meet elected leaders over development projects. However any team that wants to meet him must clearly be united, have agreed on what they need from him as constituencies and a county; and align these needs to his agenda.
I also suspect that Uhuru was sending out a quiet message. The President has consistently asked Kenyans to shelve 2022 politics and first focus on development.
Nyeri is one of the few counties that has listened to him and most of us have generally stayed away from 2022 campaigns. I suspect that Uhuru was subtly showing his approval of how Nyeri is operating, and hoping that others will take the cue and focus on what is important now: development.
2022 will take care of 2022.