• Registration was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga on April 2 to run for 45 days
• Mixed reactions in Nyandarua county echo the mood around the country
Chuma Ilondanda, 81, beamed with joy as he prepared to register for Huduma Namba in Nyandarua county. He was excited at the thought of having all his cards, including the TNA membership card, integrated into one document.
The old man did not believe those telling him TNA merged with URP to form Jubilee Party, as to him TNA is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party. He loves Uhuru just as he loved his father, Jomo Kenyatta, and he is among the elderly people registering for Huduma Namba because Uhuru said it is good.
Ilondanda was among the hundreds of residents who turned up for the official launch of the registration drive, which was done on Tuesday last week at Passenga Primary School in Passenga Township, Ol Kalou, by Public Service PAS Mary Kimonye.
Kimonye represented Health CS Sicily Kariuki, who was expected to officially launch the drive but got held up in other duties. She urged the residents to ensure they register just like they do during voter registration drives, as this will determine how much resources the county gets from the national government.
“Let us try so hard so that we don’t let our President down. This is a government project that was launched by President Kenyatta himself, and he was the first to register, and I know you love him," she said.
Similar calls around the country, including from the Opposition, have helped Kenyans embrace the initiative, through which the government will use Sh6 billion to register 50 million Kenyans for a unique code called Huduma Namba.
The Huduma Namba will be used by Kenyans to access services like applying for an ID, passport, driving licence or a birth certificate.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
Prior to the official launch, Nyandarua residents were apprehensive, as they did not know what the exercise is all about. Political leaders in Nyandarua have been quiet about the drive, and this has led the locals to view it with suspicion.
But the presence of Deputy Governor Cecilia Mbuthia, woman representative Faith Gitau, Ol Kalou MP David Kiaraho, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni and speaker Wahome Ndegwa during the launch changed their attitude.
Mbuthia told the residents the county administration fully supports the drive, as it will enable the leadership to know how many people they are planning for.
Gitau told the residents they have no reason to fear, as the rumour being spread about the Huduma Namba is baseless. She said it is not aimed at nailing those with criminal records or those who have not been submitting their tax returns, as alleged by some quarters.
"It is not the Biblical 666 either. I know you don’t know what animal this Huduma Namba is, and that is why you said I must come and explain. You know I will never mislead you. Don’t let me down," she said
Kiaraho said all the leaders must lead by example in this drive, adding that some residents had told him they would not register until he does it first.
Kioni said the drive is the "most civilised thing" to happen in Kenya. He said those opposing it, including some in Jubilee Party, are people with ulterior motives, chief among them rigging elections.
“If you fail to register, it will be a big loss for Nyandarua. The government will no longer do things haphazardly without knowing how many people are being planned for," speaker Wahome Ndegwa said.
Some chiefs who spoke to the Star but requested not to be named said political leaders have let them down in mobilisation. They said woman representative Faith Gitau, in particular, has a great role to play since she is the most trusted leader in the county.
Ol Kalou boda boda rider Daniel Ngumo said he agreed to register after he saw the leaders register. “I said I cannot be left behind when all those MPs have registered. Again I heard I will not be able to buy a bike or land in future if I don’t have the Huduma Namba,” he said
I said I cannot be left behind when all those MPs have registered. Again I heard I will not be able to buy a bike or land in future if I don’t have the Huduma NambaBoda boda rider Daniel Ngumo
Pancrass Mwaura, a trader at Gikomba market, Nairobi, hails from Mbichu valley in Githunguri sublocation, Passenga location, Ol Kalou.
But when he went to register on Monday, his location was not in the register. So he opted to register that he is from Ol Kalou township, the neighbouring location.
Speaking to the Star on the phone, Mwaura said the government needs to fix this problem as it is causing confusion.
But Mwaura is not alone. Woman representative Gitau also found Shamata location, where she comes from, missing from the register. She was forced to indicate that she is from the neighbouring location, Kanyagia.
Gitau said those who find their locations missing should register under the neighbouring locations but ensure the registration clerks note the problem for it to be fixed during the clean-up after the registration drive.
Senior chief Daniel Muniu from Passenga location told the Star that such problems existed in Nyandarua Central but have been fixed. He said if not taken care of, it may lead to some areas being denied the rightful share of resources after their people register to belong elsewhere.
Muniu said another challenge they faced is a lack of understanding by locals about what Huduma Namba is. The drive was also hampered by poor mobilisation, as there was no proper civic education.
Rurii chief Simon Muita added that the poor network had also been an issue. He said lack of proper familiarisation with the registration kit by the registration clerks also initially affected performance, as they could not work fast. Hot sunshine and drizzling in the afternoons also hurt the exercise.
The two administrators, however, said these challenges have been addressed and the locals have fully embraced the exercise. “My daily target is 180 people, but I am hitting between 216 and 230,” Muita said.
Residents, however, complain about the slow registration pace and ineffective registration kits. Daniel Njuguna, 48, who turned up with his children to register at Ol Kalou town yesterday afternoon, said many people are discouraged by the kits, which keep hanging, as this is leading to unnecessary waste of time.
The father of eight said most residents go to register in the morning but go home still unregistered due to hanging kits.
Nyandarua county commissioner Boaz Cherutich has assured the residents that the challenges will be fixed to ensure the exercise is a success in Nyandarua.