Sunday, 9 September 2018

Punda amechoka: Why Kenyans must resist high fuel prices

As the fuel shortage around the country continues to intensify following a boycott by oil transporters to protest the recent imposition of the 16% VAT tax on petroleum products, its the poorest of the poor that's paying the consequences of  an insensitive parliament and clueless technocrats running what many will describe as a government that no longer cares about its people.

Jubilee's appetite for borrowing, Rotich's poor management of the economy and passing on the burdens to wananchi has brought kenya the economic mess being witnessed where Treasury is desperately going after poor Kenyans with punitive taxes.

What becomes of the Big 4 agenda - if at all they're still pursuing it -in this kind of economic mess where the common man finds it difficult to even afford basics goods like kerosene? Are they literally strangling the poor? 

Our economy relies on constant transport of goods and services and low cost of transport enable companies to have a competitive edge in their pursuit of profit - which any serious business entity should be after. But the skyrocketing fuel prices have disrupted this chain of operation. The increase in the price of oil has significantly affected the economy in so many negative ways. 
It's not rocket science to understand that high oil prices will not only stress the entire Big 4 agenda but will also lower the consumption of goods and services of all other sectors of the economy. The government should really think twice about this tax. 

But it's the people's representative - Parliament - that has failed everyone. They pass impractical  laws like fuel tax knowing well it won't work and then they address rallies and funerals shedding crocodile tears pretending to give a solution to a problem they created. Nonsensical.
No doubt Rotich will be remembered as the the most out of touch Finance Minister in Kenya's history. It's about time we cautioned the poor, and Kenyans at large, from clueless technocrats and selfish and radar-less politicians.

Let the government suspend this punitive VAT tax once and for all and Instead tame wasteful spending of public money and desist from living beyond its means. Failed austerity measures over the years have made poor Kenyans shoulder the burden of those in power. Not anymore. Punda amechoka! 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Of Wajir tomorrow's verdict, petty propaganda and other useless stories.

The courts of Appeal’s big announcement regarding Wajir will be made tomorrow and naturally everyone expects the case to go their way.

Through his lawyers, Ahmed Jiir- the gubernatorial loser of last year's election- submitted before the the High Court a water-tight case that nullified the election of Governor Mohamed Abdi due to election malpractices. As a result, the High Court agreed with him and nullified Wajir’s gubernatorial election. And that is how the  matter ended up in the Appeals court. 

So what does tomorrow’s Court of Appeal verdict mean for Wajir? Ambassador Mohamed Abdi has only been at the helm for eight months and his nemesis never gave him the opportunity to govern. Unlike 2017, the current governor never pursued the legal battle with the latter in 2013. This was a result of negotiations between Wajir elders and Jiir on one side and the Ambassador on the other. As a gentleman, the Ambassador went his way knowing that there's always a tomorrow. Five years later, Jiir was beaten hands down by the good Ambassador. But Jiir being the bitter loser he is decided to rush to the courts and frustrate the old man using everything they looted.

After the ambassador’s exit, no one frustrated Jir. He ruled with iron fist without any meddling and squabbles. No one paid bloggers to castigate a newly formed government just to frustrate anyone nor portray any quarter as a non performer.
Jiir also sponsored daily propaganda against the Ambassador’s  administration and it seems like the good Ambassador- despite all resources at his disposal- couldn't counter the constant propaganda of Team Jiir. Not because he couldn't afford a sophisticated communication team but Mohamed Abdi decided to surround himself with a team full of mediocrity. 

Without taking sides, it's not fair to judge the Ambassador on the basis of just 8 months being in office. By all standards, the stint is too short to make a head or a tail about its merits and demerits.

After all, Jir governed for 5 years and there is nothing tangible to show for it. Apart from the PR gimmick played by his foot soldiers, Jir did little to raise him to the pedestal he currently enjoys. Empirically speaking, the much touted developments he bombarded us with are a tip of an iceberg compared to what his colleagues have done in other counties. That is why some people often ask what has Jiir done for the last five years for him to be a governor once again?

But as it seems, Jiir is determined to be a governor once again by all means necessary. During the five years Jiir was in power, the county government received close to 50 billion as per the Auditor General's report. Does Wajir look like a place with an investment of such magnitude? Every time folks question about the performance of Jiir's ousted government they are reminded of a 28KM road which costs less than 1.5B. Other than the much-hyped Wajir county headquarters and a KMTC college, what else can we write home about? Nothing but a charade.

Speaking of visionary, caring and selfless leadership, al marhum Ahmed Khalif, former labour minister and Secretary General of SUPKEM comes to mind. Word has it that Ahmed Jiir is a replacement of the late MP for Wajir West. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mzee died while his account was negative unlike those purporting to be his replacement who have amassed immeasurable amount of money in five year's s time. Wealth that can only be traced to public coffers. What a miserable moment. They say you can fool some people sometimes but you can't fool all the people all the time. Going by this, the true colors of the first Wajir Governor is known. Far from what he portrays himself to be.

On the other hand, it's unfortunate that Wajir has found itself where it is. In the hands of clueless, inept, rudderless and colourless characters as leaders. While the former governor emptied the county coffers smartly as per the records of the Auditor General, the current regime has no clue how to cover their "juwan kuxabis." And that's the only distinction between the two regimes.

No matter how tomorrow's verdict goes, Wajir has already lost. If Wajir would like to regain its lost glory, it has no option but to front a third force in the likely event of a by election.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Of Team Shuluq, Jiir's uphill re-election battle and other stories

All indications are that the Wajir gubernatorial contest is a two horse race. As in 2013, the race for Wajir's governorship is between Ahmed Abdullahi, now the incumbent, and Ambassador Mohamed Abdi aka Mwalimu.

The outgoing Kenya's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Amb Mohamed Abdi, is pulling out all the stops to unseat Gov Ahmed Abdulahi - a man many hail as the most progressive governor in the restive north since devolution came to be.

Going by his age, many believe that Mohamed Abdi, just like Raila, has one last bullet to win the governorship. But unlike that of Raila, the good ambassador's last bullet is not a blank! This time round Mwalimu's magazine seems fully loaded.
Mohamed Abdi, a former MP for Wajir East and a powerful minister in the Moi regime is mounting a well oiled campaign that has the support of Wajir's power brokers and influence-peddlers, majority of whom were in Jiir's camp in the last elections.

Popularly known as Jiir, a rat in the local dialect, Ahmed Abdullahi is the first governor of Wajir county under the new dispensation. Elected on an ODM ticket in the 2013 elections, Jiir has overseen the transformation of Wajir county for the better. Infrastructural projects initiated by Jiir's administration like the Sh1.6 billion 28KM tarmac road is the first in the county since independence.

Sycophancy and the clan mindset aside, Jiir has done better than any other governor in Northern Kenya. Wajir is the only county in NEP with a fully fledged county Headquarters.
Even international institutions like the World Bank have praised Wajir County's success in devolution and accelerating growth in the county. Wajir has allocated more than 58 per cent of its budget to development unlike other counties.

Same as many parts of the country, - if not all - this contest will be determined by clan arithmetic rather than what Jiir did as a governor. Whether the Amb is good enough to replace Jiir is not even a topic for discussion because the restive North is so fixated with stupid clan bullshit.
Wajir county has six constituencies. All the current MPs from Wajir -except Mohamed Fai, Dakalow and one Ore -are seeking reelection and none of them is supporting Jiir's reelection. Jiir is counting on the support of Wajir West but prophets of doom have been salivating at the prospect of a fallout between the West and the Governor. It's therefore safe to assume that Jiir is running a one-man-show campaign. This is Jiir's Waterloo. Unlike Mohamed Abdi - who after a lifetime in politics has no real enemies, thus a uniting figure — Ahmed Jiir has made very many enemies in his short stint 5-year career in politics. These political enemies will do everything they can to keep him from winning.

Governor Ahmed Jiir might have succeeded administration-wise but political pundits argue that he has failed to steer the political leadership of the county. It's one thing to be an administrator, it's quite another thing to be a politician. A cerebral, self-proclaimed policy wonk in a county known for colorful politicians, Ahmed Jiir wants to be seen as the energized “outsider” candidate, raging (politely) against the machine. His campaign is a full-frontal assault on the institutionalized, local power-broker world of Wajir politics. Nevertheless, Team Shulug is brimming with confidence. They describe Jiir and his regime as liars and thieves. And they are, as they say in their political rallies, ready to send him to the political dustbin.

The big question remains; will Ahmed Jiir be a one term governor??

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Is the Sultan system marginalizing NEP?

The control of large budgets and political influence that came with devolution has turned competitive politics in Northern Kenya into a zero sum game. It has also seen the emergence of winter-white haired men with spade-shaped devil’s fork beards. Unlike in the old cultural system where women and youth had a specific role, the new generation of Sultans have completely sidelined this important group despite being the majority and they even determine who gets elected to the detriment of the people.

Since the 2013 elections, NEP counties received close to hundred billion, if not more, and there's nothing much to write home about as far as development is concerned. Why? Because majority of those elected are not answerable to the masses but to these old men who call themselves sultans. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having a council of Elders but all that is wrong is, they're involved in the wrong job. All communities in Kenya have councils of Elders but they hardly get involved in politics to the extent of nominating individuals for political posts. Theirs is purely cultural. Why can't ours just restrict themselves to matters cultural and allow Northern Kenya residents to exercise their constitutional rights to elect whoever they want? Isn't it time the marginalized majority (Youths and women) wake up and revolt against this barbaric political culture that has made the region lag behind? These Sultans have made northern Kenya more divided than ever.

From Banisa to Tarbaj, Giriftu to Balambala, Madogashe to Marsabit, Northern Kenya's so called Sultans will be converging to 'determine and direct their clan's political future'. Which begs the question, where were these sultans since the 2013 elections? If they really care about their people, as they will claim, why not hold the current office holders accountable and make them answer for every shilling they have received since 2013? Or are the sultans for sale to the highest bidder?
The Sultans have always got it wrong when it comes to deciding the various political posts.

Save for the Majority Leader,– he is not a by-product of the disastrous sultan system and that is why he is who he is today and he is the only MP who represents the larger interest of the Somali community in this country- NEP members of Parliament have failed. Both in the House and in their constituencies. Why? Because they know they are not representitive of the people but a few men who can always be silenced by some brown envelopes.

The recent frenzy on the so-called Sultanship is actually the biggest mistake Northeastern has ever made. Look for instance,  the system encourages incumbents to loot and do less in terms of development because they know very well that they won't be re-elected. The scourge that is Sultanship actually fosters underdevelopment.

Immediately after the last general elections, majority of NEP youth who went back home to vote along with their Sultans were so disillusioned that they vowed they will never repeat the same mistake again. Social media is my witness. Am now shocked to see the same Facebook-ers and the ones in the various whatsapp groups druming support for a system they know well won't benefit them. The only way out is; ONE MAN, ONE VOTE.

The new county governments and the political and economic largesse that comes with them are, if not managed equitably, likely to further exacerbate existing conflicts in the poor and conflict-prone counties of northern Kenya.

Is Sultanship the bane of Northeastern Kenya? Your answer lies pretty well in the track record of its products. Now you know.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Why Duale will determine the Pastoralists’ political future come 2017

Majority Leader Hon Adan Duale with  Sultan Hassan Omar Shurie

There is no one from the pastoralists’ political landscape who can whip a crowd quite like him. Nor are there many with his special talents for handling political foes.

From a junior politician in the 10th Parliament to a political bigwig in the 11th Parliament. Currently he commands myriad support across the North – the political base of the pastoralists - not basing on tribal cocoons compared to his foes.

Patronage from his followers is overwhelming, above all, to his political opponents who deploy all means to thwart his political determination. But, he has outshined their conspiracies innumerable epochs and emerged as the winner. Refer to him as the Member of Parliament for Garissa Township or rather the first Majority Leader of Kenya’s National Assembly, Adan Barre Duale. 

The effect of Hon Adan Duale’s national position – Majority Leader of the National Assembly – is being felt across Northern Kenya; from Marsabit to Mandera, Moyale to Masalani just to name a few.
Before Jubilee came to power, Garissa residents – and the region at large - were treated to frequent power blackouts as businesses often came to a halt due to lack of energy. In those days, electricity was a preserve of few and those in urban areas and businesses in rural areas were left to find alternative ways of operating.

Things are different today. Jubilee government’s national project of Kindaruma-Mwingi-Garissa 135 KV line has reached Garissa - the gateway to Northern Kenya since independence- twitted the Majority Leader @HonAdanDuale. The honorable member for Garissa Township also reminded us in his tweets that ‘’history is being made by expanding the transmission line and transforming energy supply to all corners of the country’’. After connecting Garissa, the Ministry of Energy plans to extend the national power grid transmission to Wajir and Mandera. This, says the Majority Leader, will translate to more industries hence improve the economy of the region thus empowering the residents. The President, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, will be in the region to officially launch the project sometime in May, this year.

Hon Duale addressing a mammoth crowd
The energy sector has recorded tremendous progress and continues to register growth under the Jubilee administration. The dedication by President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee government to transform the energy industry is clearly godsend and will help boost the country's economy.
Last July the President broke ground for Africa's biggest wind-power project in Laisamis, Marsabit County – One of the Northern Kenya counties - as Kenya took giant steps in asserting its position as a leader in green-energy production globally. According to reports, the project is the biggest single private sector initiative in Africa, costing about Sh70 billion with a galaxy of investors participating in the project.

The region does not support any other economic activity except nomadic animal husbandry due to its harsh weather. But this is set to change with the new investments that the power project will unveil.
The Jubilee government's goal is raising electricity access to 70 per cent by 2017 and universal access by 2020 and the North won’t be left behind since NEP’s celebrated son will deliver its fair share.

This is a clear indication of Jubilee administration’s interest in developing the restive north. This and other ongoing projects will definitely change the economic aspect of Northern Kenya positively since investors will be attracted to the region due to the availability of power and other related infrastructure necessary for business. Hon Duale, as the undisputed kingpin of the pastoralist politics, has a say in all these and how they unfold.

A mammoth crowd in Northern Kenya listening to the Majority Leader Hon Duale
On Nomadic animal husbandry, the president, on March while addressing the Pastoralist Leadership Summit, announced the formation of the Independent Livestock Authority with the objective of providing a ready market for the Pastoralists livestock.  In the same Summit, the President launched the Sh6 billion Equalization Fund to assist the marginalized areas in providing basic services to bring the counties development to par with the rest of the country.

Infrastructure-wise, the road from Garissa to Madogashe is under construction and the contractor is on site. Meanwhile there is also a plan to start the construction from Elwak to Mandera town as the Madogashe one connects all the way to Wajir.

Lately, the Majority Leader has locked horns with his opponents in their attempt to register a tribal, individualistic political party in the name of Pastoralist Party of Kenya to ‘’fight for pastoralists interest’’ when in the real sense it’s the political vehicle of one Senator who is fond of ranting on social media and castigating other leaders even when he has nothing to show for his time in political office since 2002.
The Senator also knows that his own political star is at its peak today and cannot shine brighter than the Senate seat he currently enjoys. The writing is on the wall!

Hate or love him, the Majority Leader Hon Adan Barre Duale remains the kingpin of the Pastoralists’ political landscape. Hon Duale knows the way, goes the way and shows the way! And the Pastoralists have no option but to be with him. And sure they will.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

A road trip to Mombasa and meeting a man I have always admired.

Last week, Friday, 18th December, me and my good friend Ahmed Mohamed -Eastleigh's point man and 'Governor' at large - decided to take a road trip to Mombasa. Though we have been to Mombasa before, this trip was totally a different one for three reasons.

On the road
 One, I was travelling with a story teller. Ahmed - popularly known as @Asmali77 on Twitter, is a close friend, mentor, guardian and big brother all rolled into one - can tell all sort of stories that can make one shriek with laughter. He can translate Somali songs word by word and give you the reason behind each and every song.  Of course we had a full compact of Somali music. The curious beauty of Somali music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. Probably a true love gone sour. Somali music is often about the inspirations of the Somali people. Indeed we're in a festive mood. Ahmed is the kind of man you will cherish to travel with to anywhere.

Ahmed Asmali deep in the sea

Two, we were looking forward to meet a man we have always admired. A man we have interacted many a time on social media. A man who inspires his followers and fans. Am talking about Mohamed Hersi, CEO of the Heritage Hotels.
A week before we decided to travel, Mohamed shared on Facebook about an event -The White Party themed ‘unleash the courage within’. The White Party, organized by the Mombasa Rotary Club, Nyali branch - Hersi's wife, Mrs Sureya Roble is the president of the club - was meant to raise funds for some charity work the club is engaged in. As the guest speaker, Hersi never disappointed. He gave us an exceptional, inspirational talk that gave everyone in the room a reason to look forward to 2016.
Mohamed is an irreproachable and upstanding man. We also appreciate Mrs Sureya's care and concern during our stay.
Even City lawyer Rahma Jilo was there.

From Left: Ahmedkadar, Mohamed Hersi and Ahmed Asmali

Three, we travelled to Mombasa to unwind, have fun, eat Mombasa's mouth-watering Biriani, drink madafu, rediscover the beaches and all that pertains to Mombasa. We really enjoyed the gorgeous beaches - From the Pirates (I have no idea why it's called the Pirates) to Voyager Beach in Nyali - exciting water sports, vibrant night scene and bustling Mombasa city life. Of course you cant be in Momasa and not visit the famous Kongwea Merket.

Ahmed Asmali with a friend (Baken) shopping at the famous Kongwea Market.

Our journey back to the city was equally thrilling. One day, when I grow up, I will relocate to Mombasa and try to see whether I can make a sense out of a coasterian. Indeed Mombasa is a Cockaigne.Watu wa bwani husema, kama raha yaua, sumu ni ya nini??

Boat ride

At the Voyager Beach Resort Hotel

Saturday, 12 December 2015

CORRUPTION: NEP Governors owe NEP people a list of corrupt officials.

March this year, while delivering his State of the Nation Address, President Uhuru declared war on corruption. In doing so, the President tabled a list of senior government officials - including cabinet secretaries - suspected of corruption before Parliament.

Recently the President, while reshuffling his cabinet, declared corruption a threat to national security, dropped all the cabinet secretaries mentioned in his March speech and released a raft of the most comprehensive anti-corruption measures in history. The President restated his firm commitment to step up the war against graft in his Jamhuri Day address.

With devolution came governors. A sort of mini-presidents - after all the constitution talks of two levels of government. North Eastern heartily welcomed devolution, for the people of the restive North - who have known no real development, literally - always believed that they were marginalised because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. They hoped devolution will be a quick fix to marginalisation which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region.

Instead of delivering on local priorities long neglected by successive regimes, the region's governors are wantonly blowing money and spending incredible amounts on things that do not benefit the citizens who elected them. Corruption has 'officially' been devolved since reports emerging from these counties suggest that the county leadership has expanded the eating table and spread the loot around. As a result, we have counties where all is in harmony. Where no dissenting voice or challenges to county expenditure or budget is heard because they are all in it together.

In a rare move, NEP residents petitioned the Senate. In the petitions presented separately before the Senate Finance committee, the three governors have been accused of allocating projects in a skewed manner, institutionalized corruption, nepotism and plunder of public resources.

NEP Governors ought to deliver the great expectations with which devolution was received in North Eastern and not dash the legitimate hopes and inspirations of the people.

Therefore the governors of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera owe the people of NEP a comprehensive explanation for what has been happening on their watch.
Above all, they owe us all a long list of shame.