BY MACHEL WAIKENDA
The year 2014 has come and gone but the future beckons through a new calendar year. Is this the year of Jubilee that will see many challenges decimated or will it be a year with more of the same? I can only chart a roadmap just like I have done through this column for the past two years.
First off is the thorny issue of general insecurity that has ramifications cutting right across all sectors. That we have a new Minister for the security docket who has a firm background in the military including handling intelligence should engender hope that we are starting from a point of knowledge.
Coupled with the raft of amendments contained in the new Security law assented by the President last week as well as the heightened awareness by all Kenyans that personal security is of overriding concern, I feel we are ready to turn the corner.
A mix of the Nyumba Kumi Initiative, various community policing measures in various com-munities, the recruitment of more police officers and National Youth Service personnel, a more motivated Kenya Defence Forces and re-wired/re-focused National Intelligence Service will complement the war on terror and defeat those that seek to interfere with our chosen way of life. Our security is a collective responsibility and not the sole preserve of the men and women employed by the State to provide visibility, deterrence and prosecution.
2015 should be a year the bi-partisanship of our two Houses of Parliament shall continue to come under scrutiny. A disjointed Parliament as well as county legislators locked in almost perpetual conflict is a worrying script. It interferes with their legislative mandate, chokes up development programmes and is an affront to the hopes and aspirations of the taxpayer who is denied quality services.
Now we must focus on young people if the cycle of dependency that appears to have become a norm is to be broken. It is a fact that almost 80 per cent of the Kenyan population is a youthful one while the largest component of this critical mass is aged between 15 and 34 years.
This is a hungry, angry, ambitious demographical segment. Unlike many developed countries that are saddled with an aging population, our youth present us with many possibilities. They are a malleable tool that can be harnessed to achieve great things in the fields of engineering, agriculture, IT, the arts, sports and medicine.
The converse of this is also true. They are also the most likely to become disillusioned and radicalized by those that need to deploy them in destructive activity. That is why the queues we should be witnessing this year should be of youths at Huduma and Uwezo Fund loan application centers. They need our care and steady hand to stay on the straight and narrow.
Agriculture remains the mainstay of our economy. All the other sectors merely support Agriculture. The amalgamated agricultural authority, the slew of incentives by national and county governments will be expected to register an explosion of new producers.
The one main incentive shall be how to ensure some form of value addition to improve farmers’ earnings. This must be done alongside active seeking of markets for agricultural goods and ser-vices to maximize returns.
Education is a critical pillar and must at all times be addressed. A useful point of departure would be to resolve the ubiquitous wrangling over emoluments pitting teachers unions against their employer. No good will ever come out of the frequent disruptions to learning which only negatively affects the learners who are the future pillars of this country.
Further, public-private partnership shall be necessary to create more job and business venture opportunities to absorb the armies of fresh graduates that are joining the job market, almost monthly. Whether it means digitizing more operations to find a platform for these graduates’ skills or even engaging neighbouring countries that are in need of the pool of trained manpower from Kenya, means that the possibilities are endless.
This must also be the year to address all sports disciplines. Football is lounging in the doldrums, athletes are increasingly crossing the doping red line, and the less said about rugby and cricket the better. Sports facilities must necessarily attract funding just like any other economic activity in order to tap talent and compete with the rest of the world.
Surely, the much-loved English Premier League, American sports, Brazilian soccer, German and French sporting stars are all products of a deliberate cash infusion to build infrastructure. We can only address the problems of idle but talented youth by tackling these centers of social interaction.
Finally, the rule of law and embracing fiscal discipline must become by words for all action plans for the year 2015. Reason is that resources are finite and misappropriation in any form is not just an abuse of the process but also serves to puncture the developmental balloon just at lift-off.
The Public Procurement Oversight Authority, Constitution Implementation Commission, Director of Public Prosecutions, the Transition Authority, ethics and other oversight watchdogs have been given teeth to ensure they protect the public purse. We expect them to show their mettle in 2015.
2015 will also be the third year of devolution and all players must ensure that we see more benefits. Wrangling must come to an end and all of us must re-directed our strengths and energies to the achievement of this dream.
These are my prayers and wishlist. Happy New Year, dear reader.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)