By Mohamed Haji
Dear Mr President,
You have been in politics for a long time and although some called you a greenhorn, I believe you are an encyclopaedia in Kenya politics. I say this for one of many reasons. In our country we had 3 presidents before you; one was your dad. The second was nyayo who was your mentor, that is why some people called you Mr Project and the third was President Kibaki who kick-started your current presidency after he displaced the iron lady from Kirinyaga who is now in the political footnotes of history.
Now all these years, whatever your ears heard or your eyes observed must be enough to alert you to the injustices the people of NFD are subjected to. Your Excellency the deliberate arrest of development and disenfranchisement of the denizens by 3 of your closest political gurus shall not be allowed to continue under your presidency.
Mr President, the political progeny of bad economics is none other than insecurity. Your Excellency, you know that economic aggression can have no other offspring than instability and that the economic health of every county is a proper matter of concern to all leaders of the country. Only through a dynamic and soundly expanding economy can the living standards of individual counties be advanced to levels which will permit a full realization of our hopes for the future.
The counties of the North need nothing short of a Marshall plan above and beyond the current devolved budgets of its constituent counties. Mr President we demand to be compensated for the lost 5 decades of official marginalization.
I will not saddle you with statistics but you know how and why our schools lag behind all others in the country and the effect this will have not only on the quickly dying aspirations of the young in this region but also on the death of talent in the nation. You know the dilapidated conditions of our hospitals and health centers and the dearth of local health and other professionals. You are aware we have no roads. You are aware of the unacceptable level of poverty and the shameful level of illiteracy prevalent in the North. Your Excellency we know the causes and the solutions are within reach of your government.
Mr President, if your advisers have not told you so, you are in a unique position of leaving a beautiful legacy that your progenies will be proud of. However, time is flying fast. Your children will never forgive you if you let this golden opportunity go by.
We the people of the North ask you of 3 things. They are not as costly as the Standard Gauge Railway or as divisive as the Laptop project and the economic impetus they will create is immeasurable:
Please stop once and for all, the deliberate and outright discrimination of my people. Legislate against it if you may but please STOP it. It serves no one right and it is dangerous for the country as a whole. Peace is a prerequisite for development and stability is a must for people to live their lives comfortably. Insecurity affects everyone living in the country and the sooner the disappearing of our sons and daughters stops the better for peace. Arraign every criminal in court and subject them to due process but please stop your security officers spoiling the peace for the innocent. We do not wish to be victims of terrorists and the army at the same time.
Continued human rights abuses experienced by my people are more of a fodder for insecurity than the vague radicalisation so beloved by the media and some of your officials. It is a false dichotomy Mr President and we expect honest understanding and immediate addressing of this issue.
Please give us a road between Modikare and Mandera. For economic and security sake give us a road. Chocking a population of over 2 million people from national and international markets neither makes economic sense nor serves justice right. Mr President, you know the excellent entrepreneurial skills of the northerners, their resilience in the face of adversity and the economic transformation a decent tarmacked road that connects the three counties of NEP brings counties and country.
As it currently stands, the region produces more than 20% of Kenya’s GDP. This is astounding given the shocking state of government investment. 50 years after your father led the country to independence, the second largest land mass in the country asking for just a road that connects it to the rest of the country is not something to be proud of Mr President. They might have scared you of the cost of building my people the 600km road but what they did not tell you is, building a road in Kenya costs at least a 1/3 more in Kenya than in DR Congo. They probably won’t tell you why because it involves corruption and the dreaded kick-backs. This is what makes road building in our country prohibitive Mr President. Even then a tarmacked road that opens up this vast land will cost much less than the divisive and controversial SGR project. To be precise it will take anything between a high of 50 billion and a low of 18 billion shillings depending on the contractor and the kick-backs.
Corruption and kick-backs make road building in our country prohibitive Mr President. Just think of the transformation this ushers in for our country and even for your business. There will no longer be wasted milk from Brookside as all the milk can be transported to the North in something less than 2 hours. Now Mr President the funding for the construction of this all important road shall not cause you or your administration any headache. Remember when you were the finance minister? You passed the Investor Compensation Fund bill? Yes you do sir, you even asked it to be tax exempt. Now taxing this fund will pay for this project!
Your Excellency I want to ask of you on behalf of my people and indeed the nation for a third thing; Please move the capital city of the country from Nairobi to Isiolo OR Garissa, YES, you heard it right Sir, Isiolo or Garissa. By so doing the people of Nairobi and the North will vote you to a man. That is a cool 2.3 million votes even before you get to your vote rich counties of Central putting Raila to political oblivion. But it requires a little bit of effort, courage and political will from you.You would also have accomplished what your predecessors could not in one fell swoop; We the people of the North call other parts of the country ‘’down Kenya’ or simply Kenya although I hasten to add my generation feel more Kenyan than other Kenyans.
Now my people will never have the excuse to call other parts of Kenya down Kenya if the capital city sits in Garissa or Isiolo, 3-4 hours disturbing drive from my beloved city of Habaswein or 30 minutes drive in the event you give us the decent road we deserve. It will also considerably improve security and give my people a sense of belonging. Nairobi is also suffocating under traffic and pollution. Moving the city considerably eases the traffic snarl up and saves businesses billions in time and productivity. Of all the countries that moved a capital city the consequences was one of economic advancement, healthier populations and improved security.
I hope you will personally take charge of this.
The writer a Bio-Medical Scientist by profession, Postgraduate Development Management and social Commentator.