REFERENDUM BANDWAGON

Governors' Ugatuzi born of sin, to give wasteful managers more funds

BBI has people’s interests at heart, whereas Ugatuzi is created to embolden certain governors

In Summary

• While not perfect, because nothing ever is, some Kenyans think BBI is a positive process for Kenya, which can have important far-reaching ramifications.

• The Ugatuzi Initiative, on the other hand, was born of sin, the idea that wasteful managers should be given more public funds.

Chair of Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing on the Ugatuzi Initiative.
Chair of Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing on the Ugatuzi Initiative.
Image: COURTESY

For the past year or so, we have heard a lot about the handshake, the Building Bridges Initiative, a possible or impending referendum and constitutional reforms.

While not perfect, because nothing ever is, some Kenyans think that this is a very positive process for Kenya, which can have important far-reaching ramifications.

It is about a unity of purpose, building bridges, listening to the people and making our political system more accountable to and representative of the people.

 
 

It is not easy to gauge the opinions of over 50 million people still plagued by a colonial past, split, sometimes violently, by tribe, and ruled for years by leaders whose sole aim was to maintain power and control.

Understandably, with our history, we are cautious when politicians make promises or start new processes.

However, what we are witnessing from the current leadership is certainly unprecedented and entirely welcome in its intent.

If President Uhuru Kenyatta was merely hungry for power, he would not have reached out to ODM leader Raila Odinga, have the extraordinary partnership he has created with Kenyans from all backgrounds, and would simply have ignored the people.

We see all too often that senior figures in our country throw out an idea with slick rather meaningless advertising, or worse, applications. When that fails, they merely repackage it ad infinitum.

The Ugatuzi Initiative by the Council of Governors at first glance does not seem like a bad effort and the idea of greater devolution can certainly be judged on its merits.

However, it was born of sin, the idea that wasteful managers should be given more public funds.

 
 

Now, some supporters of the Ugatuzi Initiative are trying to claim it is an alternative to the Building Bridges Initiative.

This is a patently absurd idea because it holds absolutely none of the positives, public input and spirit of unity that characterises the BBI.

The BBI has the people’s interests at heart, whereas the Ugatuzi is a hastily created concept to embolden certain governors who have yet to demonstrate that they should be given another shilling until they account for all the billions they have been allocated.

Rather than accept this challenge, these governors are flooding the media with ideas that the infrastructure in their counties might not be failing because of waste, mismanagement and corruption. This has nothing to do with constitutional issues, the referendum or BBI. It is merely a sales pitch to the people and a rather vacuous one at that.

This strategy should not distract us from the BBI, the referendum and the constitutional changes that Kenya needs to make it fairer, more representative and accountable.

Kenyans are sensible and intelligent people and can see clearly which initiative was a result of planning and citizen input, and which was hurriedly prepared by politicians who see their stock and power sinking. 

Kenya is a dynamic nation that has been ruled for too long from the top-down, lacking a true democratic spirit.

Now, the situation has been turned on its head. Uhuru is happy to devolve his power and the power of the leadership to help chart a new Kenyan future.

This is a very good thing which is being sold to the people for the people by the people themselves. No amount of advertising should distract us from that.