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Why State projects are not political patronage

By Hesbon Owilla
Monday, June 7th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions the Kodiaga-Wagai-Onyinyore/Akala, and Nyangweso-Muhanda roads in Siaya county, yesterday. Photo/PSCU

Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu last week drew a lot of reactions on a number of fronts. 

A lot has been said about the grand projects that the president launched or commissioned in the lakeside  city. 

Overzealous lieutenants of National Super Alliance (Nasa) principals went on a frenzy hollering about proceeds of the Handshake benefiting specific strongholds yet they voted for the coalition. 

The allusion here is that it is their support that took Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga to the Handshake space and that he ought not to concentrate everything that comes out of it in his home region.

This is pure political speak and a very clever way by politicians to whip the emotions of their supporters and hide behind the folly of their retrogressive politics.

Many politicians have, at the expense of working for their people, perfected the art of advancing cheap rhetoric meant to endear them to the electorate. 

And often, when there is nothing to advance, they will resort to advancing that which when advanced will portray their rivals in negative light.

Therefore, anyone looking at the projects launched during the president’s visit to Kisumu from the voting lines and for purposes of whipping emotions belongs to this retrogressive class. 

Kisumu is a regional hub in the western region and from Kisumu city itself, on a radius of 18 kilometres you touch on Kakamega, Vihiga and Nandi counties and Kisii and Kericho are not far off.

Are these in Luo Nyanza counties? And by the way, the spill over from Kisumu touches on so many regions with an avalanche of benefits.

Simply put, development initiatives by the president have nothing do to with how we voted or who we support and it is cheap to equate national development to political patronage. 

Granted, all the grand development projects by a government are not necessarily political rewards and it is important to situate both the presidency and the government projects broadly.

A president acts in the interest of all Kenyans in the distribution and allocation of resources.

The port of Kisumu for instance, is going to have a big impact not only in the country but the region.

It is a transport hub and the economic impact will not only accrue to Kisumu but the country at large. 

I suppose President Uhuru would have still gone to Kisumu with or without the Handshake. 

This is because Kisumu is the second city in this country and is geopolitically poised as a key city in advancing Kenya’s development agenda as captured in both the Big Four agenda and the President’s big strides in uniting the country.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the grand infrastructural projects in Kisumu and Lamu counties attracting investors in both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. 

The domino effect is the attendant boost in manufacturing, job creation, boost in both the local and national economy and most importantly, the economic securities such investments afford the citizenry at the micro level. 

On the political front, Kisumu welcomed politicians from all sides of the political divide with pomp and colour, respect and honour and in the true spirit that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is poised to cement.

The people of Kisumu demonstrated in a big way that Luos are civilised. They have never learnt to hate and don’t harbour grudges.

They showed respect to the Deputy President despite his history of attacking their political supremo, Raila.

The show of civility was a good advertisement of our democracy and one would expect that the Deputy President will make his way back and sell his bottom up economic model. Not just in Kisumu but in the entire Luo-Nyanza region. 

The good folks in Kisumu seem to be saying that in politics, we need ideas to contend. And ideas can only contend when every idea is listened to.

We’ve got to seize this seed planted in Kisumu and build a democracy that affords all Kenyans the opportunity to sell their agenda and be rejected on the basis of that agenda and nothing else. [email protected]

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