Thursday, 2 October 2014

FULL OF LIES: NEP's devolution story they never told you and why peace matters for development's sake

Early this year, in one of his captivating pieces, Dr David Ndii says "If you follow the media, you may have discerned that there are two devolution narratives. One narrative is that devolution is a Frankenstein monster. It is the narrative of tin gods, globe-trotting MCAs and chicken taxes. Devolution is cast as decentralisation of corruption, a fiscal disaster, an administrative nightmare. The second narrative is that of devolution as a godsend"

Indeed to the people of North-Eastern Kenya, devolution is a godsend.

Mandera county -that restive north-east tip of Kenya - has installed street lights for the first time since Independence.
It's not a news that Madera has borne the brunt of insecurity and terror attacks more than any other county in the country. Having floodlights  will definitely help residents feel safe at night. Trivial as it may seem, these new street lights in Mandera are a wonderful example of why devolution is godsend for Kenya, more so, for Mandera and the entire North-Eastern Province (NEP).

Wajerians (People of the great county of Wajir) have decided to move with speed so that they could catch up with other parts of the country. Before we go deep into their charming devolution story, allow me to narrate a little bit fact about the middle-county of North-Eastern Kenya.
Wajir- probably the only place on earth where bucket latrine system still exists due to its high water table -has produced more highly educated and intellectual men and women who sit in high positions in different corners of the globe than any other county in NEP. Mind you, the first and the only woman that ever represented Kenya in an Islamic state is from Wajir. Her Excellency, Rukia Subow, is the current Kenya Ambassador to Tehran.

Recently, Wajir residents and their leaders came out in their droves to attend the ground breaking ceremony of the first ever tarmac road for Wajir, amid excitement and hope of a new change in town!

I have done my best to research about Garissa-the then capital city of NEP- but unfortunately there is nothing tangible (no big-deal project (s) ) to write home about as far as devolution is concerned.  Surprise, Surprise, some of its leaders are fighting devolution at the national level!

The dwellers of the restive North who have known no real development, literally, were made to believe that they were "marginalised" because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. That is true, somehow. They have always hoped devolution will be a quick fix to “marginalisation” which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region. That is yet to materialize and no signs of big-time change are forthcoming mostly because of the kind of leadership in office and not devolution.

However, devolution is proving to be a curse for the residents in the drought prone area, than the anticipated blessing as deadly inter-clan conflict creates widespread mayhem. The inter-clan conflict especially in Mandera and Wajir counties is giving security apparatus sleepless nights in the region. Given that their hands are almost full with 'al-Shabaab' terror group renewed attacks, the security teams are now fighting a two front war. The Clashes have led to the destruction of properties and the mass killing of innocent women, children and elderly people. No one can tell exactly how many people died since the clashes begun.

If after 50 years, with the ever rising number of representation from the region, we couldn't lobby for the tarmacking of Garissa-Wajir-Mandera highway and quell the clashes, then, I don't think there is leadership worth talking about.

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