NO BALKANISATION

BBI: A costly third layer of government is the last thing Kenya needs

Already the mwananchi is burdened with over taxation.

In Summary

• As usual, politicians are again hijacking what is claimed to be a people’s process.

• Looking critically at the proposal of introducing a third tier of governance, it will only benefit politicians who have completed two terms in their current positions.

 

ODM leader Raila Odinga arrives for the BBI rally at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park in Mombasa on January 25.
LISTEN TO PEOPLE: ODM leader Raila Odinga arrives for the BBI rally at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park in Mombasa on January 25.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Last weekend on Saturday, Mombasa hosted the third Building Bridges Initiative rally at Mama Ngina Drive.

Tens of national and local political leaders were in attendance as well as hundreds of people who converged to listen to the politicians and their plans for the region. Prior to the Saturday meeting, leaders from the Coast were mobilised and met at the Wild Waters Complex to deliberate and agree on a declaration on behalf of the people. Key issues were agreed that informed the contents of the declaration.

During the rally, Coastal leaders were given the opportunity to present the region’s priorities they wanted to be tackled by the BBI. Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi was tasked with the responsibility of presenting the declaration.

While doing so, the governor mentioned the key issues to include land, local economic matters such as SGR monopoly and port operations, corruption, education, natural resources and inclusivity. In conclusion, the declaration called for the national recognition of the unification of the Coastal strip with Kenya.

The declaration also recommended the introduction of a third tier of governance — the regions. For Coast, specifically, they recommended that it be divided into Upper Coast and Lower Coast, with the Upper Coast comprising Tana River, Lamu and Kilifi counties.

The Lower Coast region would include Mombasa, Kwale and Taita Taveta counties. From the onset, a few leaders argued it does no harm to the people to include regional governments, but with critical analysis, this proposal will not only balkanise Kenya but also increase the wage bill, thus the tax burden.

Considering that Kenya is staring at a fast-approaching divisive general election in 2022, it is not only dangerous but also irresponsible to introduce further balkanisation.

Already, Kenyans have seen how social and political divisions have led to chaos and destruction. Introducing another form of partition is not going to help Kenyans unite but rather divide them further. This kind of scheme should not be entertained. Further, Kenyans have continuously complained of top-heavy Executive minting hundreds of millions to sustain itself.

Presently, the national and county governments consume a large percentage of the country’s revenue to pay salaries and benefits, leaving little or nothing at all for development. The mere thought of introducing another level of governance is unrealistic and financially undoable in present Kenya.

It will not only mean fewer resources for development but most likely it will also translate into increased taxation to cover the costs of another level of governance.

Already the mwananchi is burdened with over taxation. Compared to neighbouring countries, Kenyans are the most highly taxed. Introducing a new level of government and extra costs at a time when Kenyans are struggling to make ends meet is illogical and a slap in their face.

Such a proposal is not grounded on the realities and is informed by interests other than the interests of the common wananchi. As a country, Kenya simply cannot afford the introduction of another level of governance.

Looking critically at the proposal of introducing a third tier of governance, it will only benefit politicians who have completed two terms in their current positions. There is no other possible benefit to this proposal.

It is incumbent upon us to remind such leaders that Kenya is not Uganda or Rwanda. Leaders who have served their terms must exit and give room to others. They must move on and if still interested in public office, then vie for other offices for which they qualify.  They should put the interest of the nation before their personal whims and desires.

Finally, what is being touted by proponents of the BBI is that the initiative is not a political process but rather an agenda to unify Kenyans. As usual, politicians are again hijacking what is claimed to be a people’s process. They are shouting the loudest instead of allowing the people to air their views and opinions. It is dangerous to ignore the interests of the people.

Politicians will do so at their own peril. One thing certain from the grassroots is that Kenyans will no longer allow politically self-serving proposals that are not in the interest of the greater population.