ANOTHER SCANDAL?

Rotten maize: Investigate NCPB for criminal negligence

Country is now planning to import more than four million bags of maize to meet the shortfall.

In Summary

• Last week the Ministry of Agriculture posited that all maize in their stores including National Strategic Reserves in excess of nine million has been declared unfit for human consumption.

• Farmers have been waiting to see some action or at least some indignation but the government has adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil” policy.

NCPB workers inspecting old maize stocks at the NCPB in Eldoret
NCPB workers inspecting old maize stocks at the NCPB in Eldoret
Image: FILE

A real-life story is often told of the time Queen Victoria presented King Mumia of Wanga with a shiny new bicycle perhaps the first in present-day Kenya.

As the King was enjoying his ride in Mumias, the front tyre deflated after running over a thorn.

It suddenly dawned on the King and his courtiers that nobody in Western Province had the necessary expertise to repair a puncture. A decision was made to send a platoon of warriors to Mombasa.

The men carried the bicycle on their backs to the coastal town where the bicycle was repaired and carried back to Mumias, a treacherous journey considering there were no roads, and they had to travel through bundu infested with all manner of wild animals as they charted a path in difficult terrain.

 
 

It is said some warriors lost their lives to disease and wild predators. To the King, it was all par for the course. Ignorance can be deadly, expensive and extremely wasteful.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture posited that all maize in their stores including National Strategic Reserves in excess of nine million has been declared unfit for human consumption.

The country is now planning to import more than four million bags of maize to meet the shortfall.

Farmers have been waiting to see some action or at least some indignation but the government has adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil” policy.

This is ludicrous. In any of the advanced democracies, heads would have rolled by now.

The Senate and Parliament would have been up in arms.

The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary would have resigned but not before firing the entire National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

A host of other government officials would have been sent home and if in China, most of these people would have been executed. But never in Kenya.

Which begs the question, who bewitched Kenyans? The Ministry of Agriculture has no financial vote to import maize, which means the shortfall will be imported using taxpayers money thus subjecting Kenyans to double jeopardy.

It is in the public domain that last season, some high ranking government officials imported humongous amounts of maize from a neighbouring country and coerced NCPB to purchase the same to the detriment of local farmers as NCPB stores filled to the brim.

Local farmers suffered terribly whilst holding unsalable stocks. Kenyans are now being told that whatever was delivered is unfit for human consumption and the solution is the importation of more maize using public funds. That’s absolute nonsense and has no basis in fact or in law.

Whoever supplied the unwholesome maize should be swiftly prosecuted. NCPB should also be investigated for criminal negligence as this is not the first time that maize has allegedly rotted whilst in their custody. One would have expected NCPB to be insured for such eventualities!

 
 

It is not enough to tell Kenyans “shauri ya Mungu” the maize has gone bad when a serious crime has been committed. What then is so difficult about linking the dots and bringing these economic saboteurs to book? This should be an “open and shut case” for the Director of Criminal Investigations and Director of Public Prosecutions.

Why are Kenyans so gullible that they accept anything the government posits without question. Or is it the mindset of “mali ya umma?” Public property is actually our collective property and government officials only hold it in trust.

For how long are public servants going to take us for fools to be taken on frolics at our expense? It’s time to demand transparency and accountability. Kenyans are now educated and past the days of King Mumia of Wanga. They must refuse to carry someone’s plaything or toy on their backs from Mumias to Mombasa and back.

The government and NCPB must carry their own cross and not attempt passing bucks. This time, the buck stops with them.