Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta may be the most significant president this country has ever had in ways we may not have anticipated. The desire for many Kenyans has always been development, and rightly so.
As a developing nation, there is nothing more pressing than the need to build infrastructure and create an environment that can sustain modern life while offering citizens their best opportunity to prosper.
To this end, Uhuru’s administration has done relatively well. From SGR to many miles of roads, the government has indeed changed the infrastructure conditions for the nation.
The president has ensured an increase in electricity connection, made secondary school education cheaper and vastly improved NHIF services. He has done a lot and despite the challenges of corruption, we can all see changes we are thankful for. And if we forget, a visit to a Huduma centre should remind us.
However the above pale in comparison to the two hallmark achievements of the Uhuru presidency. Weirdly, these two achievements (yes, they are achievements) have been made in one year of his second term; in a total about face of who we knew, or thought we knew of him in his first term.
The first great achievement is the war against corruption. No other regime has arrested more people and actually brought the fear of damnation into civil servants like the Uhuruadministration. The number of those facing prosecution is in the hundreds, so is the number of those under investigation. The rate at which criminal elements are hiding in fear of arrest is unprecedented, and the number of institutions cleaning up their acts is astounding.
The importation of contraband has ground to a halt and the evasion of import tax is a thing of the past. Businesses today are forced to go the legitimate route or close down. This may seem unfair for businesses, especially in the wake of demolitions of buildings built on riparian and public lands, but the impact of such activities in the long term will be positive.
People will complain that the civil service is now scared to do anything at all, and that is a good thing because it points to the fact that Uhuru has reset the system; he has successfullymade civil servants rethink their jobs and may finally remove the idea that civil service is a place one joins in order to steal, kill and destroy like the thief in the bible.
These changes will stick to our nation well beyond his term as president and their impact will be higher than 3 SGR projects per year. Simply because if we save the 1 trillion we lose annually to corruption, we will possibly be debt free in five years, or build infrastructure to every part of this country or even totally ensure education is free.
At the same time, perhaps in an epiphany; for that is the only way I can explain the about face we saw in the handshake, Uhuru managed to unite the country by joining hands with Raila. The significance of the handshake was immediately clear and relevant. The peace we now enjoy, that feeling that you know you will not walk or drive into Nairobi city and be greeted with teargas is priceless. Uhuru has undone what his father did. He has reset history and with it the soul of ourgreat nation.
Today as we speak, the Luo people are not enemies of the Kikuyu people, the hatchet is so deeply buried that those who try to revive it are soon met with the ire and chagrin of a nation tired of the politics of hate and tribalism. Those who have tried have all since closed ranks and returned to the fold. Politics as we know it is no longer a simple addition of tribal lords. Instead, because of the handshake and the fight against corruption, Kenyans are more concerned about delivery and character. Kenyans unfettered by tribalism can see our politicians for who they are. This the is the other reason Uhuru’s leadership is the most consequential. It has changed the culture, and thus, the choices Kenyans will have in selecting leaders.
What makes the message clearer is the buyer’s remorse those who have Sonko as Governor have. Nairobians are groaning under the weight and pain of their choices. They realise that choosing a leader isn’t just a matter of whose turn it is to lead, but it is a matter of checking the IQ, EQ, historyand character of a candidate. We will witness a more sensitive public because the veil of tribalism and the power of the corrupt has been lifted from our eyes. Most likely we will, from now on, choose using our heads, not from fear or euphoria.
Indeed, as we speak, we have seen present and past leaders, opposition and ruling party leaders, winners and losers of elections all agree for once that the handshake and the fight against corruption must be supported and must be continued. Many erstwhile foes have become friends and today, insults do not comprise our headlines.
However, all this goodness has those who are the lords of impunity lurking in the shadows, waiting to devour this baby we have delivered. These are the demons and dragons of ourpast, and devour this baby they will, unless we, the people, say no to them. We must learn from the United States; we can’t replace a Lincoln with an Andrew Johnson. By which I mean, let us not elect any leader in any capacity who does not embrace the fight against corruption and the Building Bridges Initiative, for in these two lie the key to our peaceful and prosperous nation.
Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]