A clean, competent, caring, accountable, inclusive and honest government.
That is what Kenyans have missed these past four years.
It is what we must aspire for in 2017 and close our dangerous dance with the Jubilee regime.
We open 2017 with excitement brought by the changes at the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) that have paid off.
The new team at Knec and the Ministry of Education deserve praise for restoring the credibility of exams.
They have given us something to smile about in a year dominated by gloom.
The success with exams management underscores one important point: public officers who fail credibility test must be removed from office no matter who benefits from their stay.
Other than exams management, it is difficult to pinpoint 2016 successes with real impact on Kenyans.
The Jubilee leadership is essentially the one that Kenyans rejected in 2002.
What we have gone through from 2013, compared to the period from 2003, proves that we were right to reject this team when it first attempted to seize power.
Corruption commandeered our country in 2016 in a way we never imagined.
Top government officials enjoying the patronage of the presidency joined ranks with elites in big business to plunder public resources in complete disregard of the long-term interests of our nation.
This conspiracy produced a tiny billionaire class in just four years whose members can buy the latest model of anything at any price anywhere and contribute millions at weekly harambees while the rest of the population struggle to get basic resources.
From this corruption, all misfortunes flowed.
Communities got excluded from government because they were viewed as enemies who would disrupt the eating.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Centre supported this view: 64 per cent of Kenyans said jobs only go to those with connections; 53 per cent said they are discriminated in appointments because of their tribes.
There are public officers who have lived these four years with being viewed as Opposition spies because of their tribes.
Those officers have had to forego promotion, got shuffled around and missed other entitlements.
The cost of living went up because businesses have to factor in bribes and incompetence in the management of the country.
Jobs disappeared as firms closed shop or retrenched because of a hostile business environment.
On December 19, 2016, the Daily Nation reported that about 2.2 million small enterprises closed shop over the last five years with many firms citing a harsh business climate and the high cost of energy.
Softa Bottling Company, a Kenyan firm that withstood even the Nyayo years, folded late last year.
Coca-Cola downgraded its Nairobi offices that oversaw operations in 31 countries and moved to South Africa and Nigeria.
In September 2016, Sameer Africa announced it is closing Yana Tyres factory in Nairobi.
Eveready East Africa closed its Nakuru-based battery factory in September 2014.
Cadbury shut down its factory in Nairobi in October 2014.
Procter and Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser relocated around the same time.
These closures represent jobs exported and industrialisation dreams deferred.
A survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics revealed that establishments started or acquired within the last two years accounted for 61.3 per cent of the total businesses closed.
The highest number of establishments shut down was in 2015.
The main reason cited for closures was increased operating expenses, declining income, high cost of energy and business losses.
Despite all the talk of increased power connectivity, Kenya’s industrial power costs stand at an average of Sh17 per kilowatt hour (kWh) compared to Tanzania’s Sh12 per unit ($0.12), Egypt’s $0.11 (Sh11), Ethiopia’s $0.09 (Sh9), South Africa’s and $0.06 (Sh6).
Corruption especially at procurement is certainly a factor in these high costs.
Devolution progressed in fits and starts because a government steeped in the old order and huge appetite for theft of public funds tried to recentralise what had been devolved.
To enable the eating to proceed smoothly, institutions like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) got crippled largely through appointment of user-friendly top brass.
That is how it got to clear the National Youth Service and the Eurobond transaction before investigating them while flatly refusing to investigate the “chicken gate” bribery scandal at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Knec.
There were also allegations that up to Sh5 billion meant for expectant mothers, unborn babies and HIV patients got stolen at Afya House.
No one has taken responsibility. Instead, the internal auditor who unearthed the theft was transferred and demoted.
Proceeds from the Eurobond disappeared without a trace.
Jubilee has furiously claimed that the money was well spent.
But they cannot show even the needle that the money was spent on.
Instead, the President publicly castigated the Auditor-General for wanting to investigate the Federal Reserve Bank of New York over the Eurobond proceeds.
Corruption, dishonesty and incompetence compromised our security with the country coming under one attack after another by terrorists, the most lethal ones being at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi (in 2013) and at Garissa University (in 2015).
In the case of Westgate, the National Government promised a commission of inquiry that has not come years later.
On Garissa University the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale promised to name the financiers of the terrorists. That remains a cruel joke to date.
As we closed the year, corruption, incompetence, lack of accountability ensured we could not pay our medical personnel, leading to a crippling strike.
Before that, there was the teachers’ strike that crippled learning for months and, as we begin a new year, signs of increased industrial strike are everywhere.
Caring is something a government cannot fake.
No competent, caring and accountable government can proceed on holiday when citizens are suffering, as is the case now because health workers are on strike.
That is the time a leadership is expected to burn the midnight oil for a solution.
There is a glaring absence of well thought-out policy interventions to deal with emerging issues.
Fire-fighting has been the official Jubilee policy.
Today, it is talking of importing doctors. Is this a sustainable solution? Certainly not.
Kenyans are very proud of and committed to their country.
In the Pew Research I cited above, when Kenyans were asked whether they would tell young people looking for opportunities to go abroad or stay here, 78 per cent said they would recommend we stay here, the same percentage as Nigerians.
Our people want to build the country. What stands between us and our dreams is the government.
The government wants to run our lives instead of enabling us to run our own lives.
It is my appeal to the people of Kenya that we dedicate 2017 to the realisation of a clean, honest, competent, inclusive and caring government.
We need to be aware that Jubilee will use the money it has stolen to corrupt the electoral process, buy support and steal elections thereby creating a vicious cycle of a corrupt regime, stolen elections and another corrupt regime.
We must stand up against the billionaires’ club.
We can achieve it on August 8 following on the footsteps of nations like Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Gambia that have blazed this trail.
Happy New Year and a Prosperous 2017 fellow Kenyans.