By Fwamba NC Fwamba
It is President John F. Kennedy that famously quipped, ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’.
As Kenya emerges from what was initially thought to be one of the most closely fought elections, we carry into the future a number of lessons. The first and most important lesson is that at all levels of government; all the citizenry are the ultimate winners. The peaceful elections are a true testament to this.
At the county level, devolution was the greatest winner, as we have witnessed significant changes across the 47 counties. Over 20 incumbent governors have suffered massive defeats. For the first time, three women have been elected into gubernatorial positions. A higher number of Members of Parliament have also been shown the door, and an equally dizzying number of Members of the County Assemblies rendered jobless.
The lesson here is clear; elected leaders must not only listen to the wishes of their electorate, but the must understand and deliver sustainable development, efficiently, effectively and in a timely fashion.
At the national level, the transformative message by the Jubilee juggernaut held sway, as the convoluted change mantra by the opposition was drowned in an avalanche of votes from all regions in Kenya. As we reflect on these lessons, it is clear that if we all unite in the task of nation-building, the country will emerge victorious.
Dreams of Devolution and Development
Devolved governments, constitutionally offer important promises for Kenya’s development. Promises of good livelihoods, improved infrastructure, clean environment, clean and constant water supply and a functional sewerage system are some examples of what Wanjiku, Atieno and Wanyonyi deserve in making the Kenyan dream as envisioned in vision 2030 a reality.
For some counties, the first five years of the devolved governments were chaotically run, had a total waste of resources, time and opportunity. Counties such as Nairobi, the nerve centre of Kenya’s development that controls over 60 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), obviously struggled to shine. Like uncut diamonds, five years of failed planning, erratic and reactive development projects, endless squabbles, and general ineptitude may have contributed to the eventual ouster of the City County’s inaugural Governor Dr. Evans Kidero. The jury is still out on the key developments registered under his term, but sadly, only the ‘Kidero drums’ and the ‘Kidero grass’, dot the city landscape, anecdotal signposts of Kidero’s 5 years in office. It is significantly impossible to point out what Dr. Kidero did with the money that the Nairobi City County received both from the exchequer and the revenue that was collected in the over 4 and a half years of his tenure.
Nairobi’s newly elected Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko campaigned on a platform that focused on transformative change with people’s welfare as a central pillar, and resoundingly won. To be honest, Governor Sonko’s message resonated well with majority of Nairobi voters whose dreams and aspirations of a great city remain alive. For Nairobi, the message of a functional urban centre, grasping for her place in the sun is what we all strive for. The lost years under Kidero’s administration should teach us vital lessons on how to move Nairobi forward, as per the wishes of all city dwellers.
Refreshingly, at the centre of Governor-elect’s Sonko manifesto for Nairobi, is a solid understanding of the wishes of Nairobi residents and as a positive attribute, is the fact that unlike in the past, both the national government and Nairobi are solidly under the same party. In fact, with 45 out of 85 elected Members of the County Assembly, a concerted effort between the county government and the national government, can only result in good coordination and better results for all.
Since development is a shared responsibility between the national and the county governments, the Jubilee Party’s victory in the country’s capital is obviously a sign of better days ahead. It is now time to roll up the sleeves, and to support the efforts of the new leadership in the city, to deliver on the aspirations of the people.