By Prof Edward Akong’o Oyugi via Facebook
To the people of Migori,
Our preparations for the hearings at the Supreme Court are on course. I have seen some great exchanges online with respect to Migori County, and Nyanza, our home. I enjoy rigorous debates, and must applaud young people for your ability to engage without degenerating into obscenities.
For Migori, let it be clear:
We want a productive county that shares its wealth with everyone in it. We want a peaceful county where all the various communities live side by side, helping to solve those shared challenges that we all face.
More especially, we want a county whose leadership has a clear mandate to serve the people; and be held accountable by the people. I know this process has been long but then again, for as long as I can remember, nothing has ever come easy on our part of the country.
We’ve always worked hard for everything we got. We’ve always fought hard for the ideals we believe in. I grew up in a generation that refused ‘deal-making’ for a few. We believed that our region can and must grow together, united, in prosperity. That generation came with its struggles and overcame them. Now we are in another time, and even now, from the messages I have been receiving, in my inbox, so many young people want to succeed in our county and elsewhere in our region.
Whether in Migori, Homabay, Siaya or Kisumu County, one thing has changed: more young people have now gained education and are looking forward to play their roles. The good thing is; now they can come back home and work right in Migori, or Homabay, or Kisumu, or Siaya, just as they would want to leave for Nairobi or Nakuru.
Devolution, if we manage it well, can surely create wealth right here in our regions.
When we conceived devolution; one of its beneficial elements was its ability to spur growth in areas which the powers that be at the top of our country often deemed as ‘hostile’ or ‘opposition zones’. To us who came from such regions, we toiled with devolution as a gift for our people: so that never again will we make delegations to state house or whenever the national powers may be.
That’s why in one year after devolution; there are a few things we must remind ourselves, young and old alike. One, that we now don’t need to be ‘politically correct’ to develop our counties and empower our people. We’ve anchored our relationship with the national government in the constitution.
So let no one say we: ”must” work with ‘people in government’. We are all in government. Yes, we are. I particularly have great friends and peers and students I taught at the university now in government. So the leader who says he must work with the government misses what devolution is all about.
Something is true though. Across the land where we belong, we overwhelmingly preferred another political direction in another political coalition. We preferred CORD and not the Jubilee Alliance. It is our free choice; our democratic choice. This we must say without flinching our eyes or feeling ashamed. While at it, we should also respect those who openly made their choices on the other side.
For our county, we only need to be economically correct – to prudently utilize the resources which by law must trickle down -and which – added to our own initiatives, our ability to attract investors, will change the fortunes of our people.
Two, we also know that our people are today more educated with expertise and skills which, in a well run county, should allow each be self-dependent with enough to save and bring up families on. To make this a reality, our county, and region, will have to build, and improve, sectors which attract and retain, our people.
Our neighbours in Homa Bay are already doing it. We too must. We too must get more investors rather than wait for the national government. We too must open up more markets. Lighten more homes. Put more land on mechanized crop growing. Educate more children. Treat more sick, and, deliver more infants in well-equipped natal facilities. We must reduce maternal deaths.
This is the hope with which my team and I wait for the supreme court.
When we get our chance, let’s never forget why it took us this long.
The writer is a candidate for Migori County gubernatorial by election.