An open letter to President Kenyatta about north eastern Kenya


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 three presidents before you; one was your dad. The second was Moi 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 three 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 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 centres 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 2 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 give us a road between Modikare and Mandera. For economic and security sake give us a road. Chocking a population of over two 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 percent 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 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. Corruption and kick-backs make road building in our country prohibitive. Even then a tarmacked road that opens up this vast land will cost much less than the controversial SGR project.

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 to please move the capital city of the country from Nairobi to Isiolo OR Garissa, YES, you heard it right Sir, Isiolo or Garissa. This will 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.

Thank you for your time.

(Mohamed Haji is a Bio-Medical Scientist/Social Commentator/expert on Development Management. He lives in London)

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