Massive ID cards drive in Central ahead of voter listing

Murang'a county commissioner Ms Kula Hache addressing residents of Kangari market where she ordered arrest of individuals who will be found without identification documents as from end of the month. PHOTO:BONIFACE GIKANDI

You will soon find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you fail to acquire a national identity card.

Murang’a County Commissioner Kula Hache ordered security agents to arrest and prosecute those who will fail to produce their IDs when asked to do so after April 30.

“The law provides that the police arrest those who fail to produce their identification documents when required,” said Hache, at a public meeting at Kangari market in Kigumo.

This comes after the national government launched a registration drive to ensure youth in Central acquire identity cards on Monday.

The drive in counties that form the Central Kenya caucus targets 1.5 million ID applicants in the next two months.

Already, national registration bureau officials are busy traversing villages and shopping centres to meet eligible applicants.

Although administrators and the national registration bureau have dismissed claims that the exercise is a politically-driven, it comes barely two months after a central Kenya leaders conference in Nyeri called for the mass registration.

Bishop Lawi Imathiu, the Spokesperson of Mt Kenya Foundation, which has been instrumental in organising meetings, said central was for long discriminated in registration of youth.

“That is why we had to ask the national government to intervene and save the region. We raised the issue with the President and also in Nyeri meeting and Embu and we asked the national registration bureau to conduct door-to-door registration campaigns,” he said.

Imathiu, who is also the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association chairman, said Interior Coordination Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho promised to mobilise his officers to ensure the success of the exercise.

“We were categorical that we do not want anybody left out of the exercise. Let us see to it that everybody is registered so that they can enjoy being Kenyans,” said the cleric.

During President Uhuru Kenyatta’s tour of Central last February, leaders from the region castigated the national registration bureau for failure to issue ID cards to local youth.

And at the homecoming party of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri in Nanyuki, leaders asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and ensure all youths are issued with ID cards.

During the ‘Central Kenya Parliamentary Group and Mt Kenya Foundation meeting held at the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri’, leaders noted that the region which comprises 11 counties has 1.2 million youths who do not have IDs.

Mt Kenya Foundation is chaired by Equity Bank Chairman Peter Munga.

Providing vehicles

The call for mass registration may have been prompted by low registration of voters in the region. The leaders claimed that five million people have not registered as voters with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission .

The Outspan meeting which also resolved to fight illicit drinks in the region, saw the mop-up of illegal brews spearheaded by Mr Kibicho who sacked administrators for alleged laxity in fighting the menace.

Nyeri County Commissioner Onesmus Musyoki and his Laikipia counterpart Apollo Okello said the national registration was a normal government activity.

Mr Musyoki and County Registrar of Persons Lucy Njeri Mwaura, said the exercise will run until April 30, although normal registration will continue until end of June.

Nyeri County targets 160,000 new ID applicants by June 30th. The office also expects to issue an estimated 100,000 new generation or replace old or lost ID cards within the remaining months.

The officials however noted that by close of business, on April 30, they expect to register 48,000 new applicants.

“This is purely a Ministry of Interior and Coordination activity and it has nothing to do with any other player or any resolution made.

We are now appealing to youths, those who lost their IDs and others applying for the new generation IDs to take advantage and apply,” said Musyoki.

Ms Mwaura told The Standard on Sunday that Nyeri County Government is providing vehicles to facilitate the exercise.

“It is just a normal exercise and Nyeri County government came in and helped us with vehicles so that we can be able to traverse to remote areas. We are appealing to youth to come out and register so that they can be recognised as Kenyans,” said Mwaura.

She said they are engaging chiefs, their assistants and even community policing leaders (Nyumba Kumi initiative) to help identify eligible residents.

“They are facilitating the process by helping our officers identify residents of their areas,” said Mwaura.

She said last Monday, Nyeri County recorded 500 new applications.

In Murang’a, Ms Hache said they target 160,000 people. A record 2,324 people, mostly youth applied for IDs on Monday, while 1,358 sought for replacements. The drive was also launched in Kirinyaga, Embu and Laikipia.