Regional blocs can help end cross-border hostility

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 00:00 | By
President William Ruto, former President Uhuru and Raila Odinga during BBI Report launch. PHOTO/Courtesy

Unknown to many, the diversity of newly-formed regional economic blocs could be a blessing in disguise in a country that has endured bitter ethnic rivalry for decades.

A structured integration of counties could not have come at a better time than now when the country seeks solutions to recurrent political, economic and social problems.

Clearly, peaceful co-existence and development are elusive dreams in some parts of Kenya. 

Cross-border hostilities are commonplace and development non-existent in the onetime closed frontier districts classified as hardship areas. Development was also a luxury the government could ill-afford in such areas. 

Determined to address some of the historical challenges in their areas, like-minded governors  came together to seek solutions to their  problems.

Collective objectives and aims are central to fostering cross-border peace and development of neglected regions.

Structured blocs headed by governors or regional premiers as proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) could be the ideal link between the units and the central government.

In the face of attempts to micromanage counties by the National government, public intervention cannot be deferred beyond the final report of BBI taskforce.

De-ethnicised administrative boundaries of the regional blocs in the formative stages should be drawn, legitimised and structured to achieve objectives that stand out as unfulfilled promises of the successive central governments through the provincial administration.

Without an iota of reforms since independence, the provincial administration was, until recently, in charge of elections for political offices and maintaining law and order in the regions. 

Not much has changed with the 2010 Constitution that retained the outfit as well as controversial legislations in the statutes that touch on electoral laws.   

Before the advent of devolution, some county headquarters were   sleepy and ghostly centres bearing visible scars of marginalisation. 

With the lethal yesteryear ghosts lurking actively in the background in the Ministry of Devolution, the administration of counties has not been a walk in the park to say the least. 

Services of lynch mobs have been enlisted to downplay the achievements of the devolved units in the seven years of their existence.

What’s more, some members of County Assemblies burn the midnight oil grafting motions to impeach governors. 

There is a looming fear of sabotage by remnants of the doom’s day prophets that helped kill regional governments anchored in the independence Constitution.

As it stands, the future of devolution is bleak, but   this could be avoided if the political class could swallow their pride and stop chest-thumping. Give peace a chance at this hour of need and condemn retrogressive forces. 

If sacrifices, painful and unpalatable decisions are to be made to make a fragmented Kenya peaceful and prosperous, so be it. 

The cacophony notwithstanding, BBI has to rise above petty political and parochial interests and prove skeptics wrong on the widely held belief that solutions to local problems have to come from strangers.

The opportunity is rife to transform Kenya into a better society free of hatred and suspicion.  —The writer is governor, Siaya county. [email protected]

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