• When the electorate questions, they call us entitled, unpatriotic or oppressors of the marginalised areas.
• All these are tactics to deflect us from who the real creators of inequalities are.
“Are you trying to tell me I’m insane?”
This was from a scene in the 1944 movie called Gaslight.
In the movie, a husband attempts to convince his wife that she is insane by manipulating small elements of her environment.
When she questions him, he insists that she is mistaken, delusional and forgetful.
The manipulation begins when he murders a woman who lived upstairs in their apartment block in order to steal her jewellery.
To do so, he begins by disappearing from their apartment at random times to go to the upstairs apartment to rummage for the jewellery.
While there, he switches on the gas lights, and by so doing, this causes the lights in his apartment to start flickering.
To further convince the wife she is insane, he begins to make strange noises from a locked attic in their apartment; he hides her personal items such as her watch and brooch, and moves things around the house.
When she questions the strange occurrences, the husband tells her that she is becoming unhinged, and even threatens to commit her to a mental asylum.
In politico-speak, this is called gaslighting.
It happens when a person, group, institution or political party manipulates the truth by covertly sowing seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group to gain control and power.
This is with the intention of making the victims doubt their own information, memory, observed reality and even their own sanity.
They use tactics such as threats, intimidations, misdirection, contradictions and misinformation in an attempt to destabilise and delegitimise the victims’ objective judgement.
Gaslighting has become a common technique of politicians, dictators, narcissists and cult leaders.
They do it so slowly and subtly that the victims do not realise how much they have been brainwashed and conditioned to think in a certain way.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed our Kenyan rendition of gaslighting with the spectacle of the revenue sharing formula.
The Senate has had seven unprecedented failed attempts to pass the Revenue Bill aka third generation formula,which proposes resource allocation to counties to be based on population.
The narrative drawn from this is that it will benefit counties with a large population and disadvantage those with huge land mass and smaller populations.
Counter proposals that claim the third generation formula sows seeds of division among Kenyans, recommends other weighted parameters such as health, agriculture, poverty, land size and roads should be applied to the formula.
This has resulted in a stalemate between the so-called gainers, losers and some gainers who chose to side with the losers.
It begs the question, does Wanjiku gain or lose in the current or proposed new formulas? If you think you do, you have been gas lit.
The only gainers or losers are the unaccountables. Not you and I.
They have gaslighted us into thinking that the options before the Senate are binary, and that we need to retreat into our tribal and party affiliations to protect our turf with the hope of sharing in the windfall of resources.
The unaccountables are the small insidious and difficult-to-detect clique that controls the production and distribution of goods and services.
With their wealth, whether ill-gotten, inherited or earned, they fund our politicians, who then become beholden to their agenda.
They are unelected and, therefore, beyond our accountability, and it seems neither law nor ethics hold them responsible for their nefarious actions.
They do more harm to our livelihoods and help to create more inequalities than the proposed revenue sharing formulas.
What is even more nauseating is that they remain bubble-wrapped from the hardships they create, and continue to land more influential State appointments despite their publicly known intentional errors of judgement.
If there is a silver lining from this coronavirus pandemic, it is that it has given us the freedom to dream, re-imagine and reset.
In a recent article, I dared the Ministry of Education to re-imagine education by continuing learning around the Nyumba Kumi model.
And sure enough, a couple of weeks later, the Cabinet Secretary announced that this would be the model for learning during this coronavirus season that has seen our schools closed.
Likewise, this week I am inviting the Senate to reconceive resource allocation by using the Wanjiku formula.
In this formula, we should first abolish the CDF kitty, the Equalisation Fund and the constitutional minimum percentage that should be allocated to the counties.
Then counties would, through direct public participation - not MCA - prioritise their needs annually.
A team of national experts would then advise what can realistically be achieved in one year, and provide the unit cost of those priorities.
Then money would be allocated based on that cost estimate.
For example, if Mandera’s priority in the fiscal year 2020-21 is to build 500km of tarmac roads, a 1,000-bed hospital, and pay school fees for 5,000 students, the experts would scale them to what is feasible in a year, and cost them.
Then the resources would be allocated accordingly.
So for instance, if Kiambu’s priority in the same fiscal year was 50km of tarmac roads, 100 milk production plants, and school fees for 50,000 students, Mandera would get a higher allocation for roads than Kiambu, while Kiambu would get a higher allocation for bursaries than Mandera.
On the other hand, Mandera would not receive any allocations for milk production plants, nor would Kiambu receive any for construction of a hospital.
And in this era of technology, it would be pretty easy for Wanjiku to compare the costs estimated with actual standard costs, while adjusting slightly for context.
This would allow Wanjiku to question any inflated variances, if any.
Progress would be publicly monitored quarterly, and results tabled at the end of the fiscal year.
For priorities not achieved within the fiscal year, no additional resources would be allocated along the same budget lines, until they are complete.
It sounds too simple. Right? So why can’t it happen?
I submit it is because the unaccountables working in the shadows of influence are the gainers or losers.
That is why they gaslight us through their proxies into thinking that the formula is so complicated, and can only be understood and proposed by certain constitutional institutions.
When the electorate questions, they call us entitled, unpatriotic or oppressors of the marginalised areas. All these are tactics to deflect us from who the real creators of inequalities are.
Begs another question, why can’t resources follow unit costs that would be fairly standard across all counties, thus eliminating the gaslighting that some counties are benefiting at the expense of others?
Why do they have to follow weighted parameters such as population, land size or poverty levels, which are all very abstract and transient data points intended to create unnecessary complexities? Are they telling Wanjiku she is insane for questioning?
Finally, my unsolicited advice is to Wanjiku: society does not evolve by consensus, voting, tyranny of numbers, committees or polling. Only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. Stay awoke.
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian – Henry Ford.