Open Letter To H.E President Raila Odinga, H.E Kalonzo Musyoka and The NASA principals
By Feisal Awale
Dear NASA principals,
I write to you to share some opinions of what I think could be beneficial to NASA’s cause. Please take them on board as opinions of someone who shares your dreams and aspirations of a better Kenya.
NASA’s vision of where they want to take Kenya is very good, for those who have dedicated time to listen, read and fully understand the proposals particularly the benefits of the people’s assembly. However a lot of people don’t know the details. When i say a lot of people, i mean the uneducated population of NASA supporters, the undecided fence-sitters and the few jubilee blind sheep.
The reasons for NASA’s message not fully reaching the grassroots is partly due to the media’s dishonest reporting in support of the status quo or the daily political news cycle but the biggest reason, in my opinion, is mostly not enough emphasis is put on creating awareness in the grassroots about the benefits of the People’s assembly by the NASA coalition.
In my opinion, NASA will solidify the over 70% support demonstrated when Kenyans heeded NASA’s 26th Oct elections boycott call and add new support when it makes it a priority that ordinary Kenyans fully understand it’s plans for the country.
The small chunk of loyal NASA supporters who understand what NASA intends for Kenya, including yours truly, try to do their part to explain to people but some people quickly become sceptical of our explanations and challenge it’s authenticity.
A regular question is, as an aged neighbour likes to put it, “mbona sijaskia Raila ama Kalonzo akisema hivo?” (Why haven’t I heard Raila or Kalonzo say these things?)
As an avid follower and supporter of NASA, I have absorbed bits and pieces of what the people’s assembly proposes although some of what I’ve come across as proposals have not been officially confirmed by the NASA coalition. Below are some of the proposals and ones NASA might have overlooked:
1. COUNTY BUDGET ALLOCATION
NASA say they will ensure 45% of the national budget goes to counties, a claim they have vehemently repeated since 2013 and equally dismissed by Jubilee as an absurd claim that is impossible to achieve. The people, although believing in it’s possibility under a NASA government, are still lacking an explanation of how NASA plans to guarantee the said 45% will be equally divided and delivered by future governments to all counties.
More importantly, NASA must explain exactly how that allocation will be eternally protected against future parliamentary amendments. What measures will they take to safeguard that enticing propos: Will NASA make it into a law protected from parliamentary amendments? My idea is ensuring any future amendment sought can be possible only through a people’s referendum? We need to know NASA’s plans.
2. FEDERAL SYSTEM
We have heard talk about a fully federal system for counties but the people are yet to understand exactly what that entails. We have also heard the people’s assembly proposes to fully devolve security, the electoral commission and healthcare to counties. All very good ideas that will be well received across the land.
Our advice as Somalis, is NASA must ensure Police & security personnel deployed in North Eastern counties are mostly comprised of officers hailing from local ethnic communities. That will make the war on terror & crime easier to combat as locals know their home ground better than non locals. At the moment the advantage lies more with Alshabab than Kenya security personnel simply because the Alshabab insurgent is more at home than the police officer from Nyeri. Devolving security is perhaps the best proposal for upholding human rights in all counties.
For example would Luo and Suba police officers have murdered hundreds of their fellow Luo/Suba NASA protesters like we recently witnessed in Kisumu, Bondo and Migori? NO! We fully agree that devolving Police recruitment and officer posting to county governments is a very good proposal by NASA.
We, as a people subjected to years of government intimidation and extrajudicial killings, will support proposals that will end government bullying of communities deemed problematic to future dictators. We need an easy to understand explanation about how all this will be implemented and I repeat more importantly, how the proposals will be protected from amendments by future governments.
As a Somali who went through hell to get my first passport, I would urge the People’s assembly to also devolve citizenship registration i.e birth certificate, ID and Passport issuance to counties, the power to declare who among us is a foreigner or local must be left to our county governments.
It’s a fair demand, after all the Somalis counties are in an area owned and occupied by Somalis for thousands of years. If NASA does this then all the marginalized communities, especially my Somalis, would jump on board the people’s assembly and officially ratify NASA’s proposals.
Registration of persons affects a human being’s right to political choice, education, healthcare and business and in most countries, it is easily obtained by citizens. Sadly in Kenya, registration has been used by all governments to marginalize and discriminate Somalis because we share ethnicity and borders with neighbouring Somalia.
We are Kenyans though and it is high time this issue is solved. This exclusionary colonial policy, which gives the community wielding power, an unquestionable ability to declare social and legal statuses for whole communies, must surely end in the new Kenya we like to call Canaan.
Most government policies are still colonial in nature but registration is definitely the number one complaint whenever you mention marginalization to a Kenyan Somali.
We need that power stripped from future colonial-behaving national governments and devolved to our own county governments. NASA must look at each community in Kenya and identify what is used to marginalize them, then get rid of it.
3. DEVOLVE GOVERNMENT RECRUITMENT
I am confident I speak for most marginalized Kenyans when I say, the people would love to hear how they can be FULLY INDEPENDENT in future from powerful central governments (e.g the current Mt.Kenya cartel) who thrive in looting other communities and county resources through governmental job appointments. One clear example of unfairly benefiting from other communities resources is Wajir International Airport. Currently 90% of the Airport’s employees are from the Gema communities.
All departments of government employment, that is the Management, the police, immigration, KRA, customs and even cleaners. A major airport in a predominantly Somali region employing 3 Somalis out of nearly 100 employees is the definition of marginalization. A Murang’a citizen taking the job that was entitled to the Wajir unemployed but educated squatter hustling in Eastleigh only breeds resentment towards other communities and kills hope of any future at home. We need solid legislation to address these issues. Mombasa port, Busia and Malaba borders are other notable examples. This is the reason why rural to urban migration has been on the rise among our high school graduates from rural areas since 2000.
Opportunities in their own counties are limited or nonexistent, because government employees are appointed from Nairobi and usually nepotism/tribalism wins in such situations.
The solution is to devolve government recruitment to counties and ensure all counties create college/university courses geared towards local government work so as to have a ready pool of local workers available for government jobs.
4. WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION
Although Kenyans would want to see all responsibilities devolved, they definitely wouldn’t want corruption devolved! We need measures and regulations to be put in place to make it difficult by county officials to loot or mismanage funds.
For example: Counties must create oversight bodies, something like community barazas comprising of all stakeholders of the county (NOT county employees or politicians but independent county citizens from all stakeholders) to publicly review, question and approve or reject all county government projects and expenditures.
This must be held publicly and relayed on media. If NASA wants to give power to the people as they claim, they first need to tell the people how they will exercise and protect that power. Give us solid guarantees that we’d be in control of county affairs so that we will be able to protect it and therefore benefit from the proposed 45%. allocation.
The proposed 45% allocation could be the best solution to end marginalization in Kenya, but it is pointless to ordinary waananchi so long as they believe county officials will loot most of it as has been the practice among Kenyan public servants since independence. NASA needs all counties including jubilee’s to understand how every community will benefit from the people’s assembly proposals.
5. SPREAD AWARENESS
It’s clear all Media in Kenya is against NASA and all dissenting opinion is blocked from reaching the public. NASA should seriously consider proposing county funded media like Tv stations and radio as a necessity for any free thinking independent democracy to flourish.
Starting with major NASA counties like Mombasa, Kisumu etc. Let us finish the cartels ability to influence and control news and opinion. Once Kenyans have an independent and honest news coverage, the existing compromised media houses will lose relevance and will quickly be forced to report truthfully. I’m sure people of most counties would support NASA more if these issues are explained in detail, especially to the uneducated.
In this digital age, producing videos, radio programs social media articles and posts explaining in detail the issues is a good way to reach all Kenyans. NASA’s paid bloggers should not base all their online writing on countering and fighting jubilee only, they should educate, educate and educate the masses.
Ensuring messages reach grassroots should also be the responsibility of MP’s and MCA’s. In major rallies by the principals, local party leaders must explain intended benefits to the locals inhabiting the area the rally is held.
Although what I’ve mentioned above might not be new ideaa to you dear principals, but in order to fully bring about change in Kenya NASA needs to take advantage of the people’s overwhelming support by breaking down the people’s assembly proposals according to the every community’s needs. Offer concrete future-proof solutions to get rid of regional and national problems NOW.
People’s assembly proposals has to be familiar and easy to understand to the rural mama mbogas and uneducated camel herding fathers in the north. Do that and we won’t need confrontational demonstrations and political rallies to bring change, we will get universal voluntary support from even the under 30% who back jubilee.
Kenyans would make their county governments support the assembly and all communities would loudly declare Raila/Kalonzo as the rightful President and deputy of Kenya.
Mr. Feisal Awale