Burning issues that are fueling Azimio rallies

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga at People's Baraza in Keroka Nyamira County. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

The number of people turning up for Azimio meetings is a big statement that Kenyans are yet to get the panacea to their problems.

And that should not be happening this early into a new administration unless they judge it to have grossly failed. However, I would not say so. President William Ruto’s government has some great plans, particularly in tackling drought and climate change. 

Still, most programmes are long term. So long term that by the time some come to fruition, Ruto would be on his way to retirement. For instance, tree planting. This is a revolutionary approach to climate change. 

If we hit the 10 billion target, we will have done future generation a great favour; but can that save a man dying of hunger in Turkana? The over 1,000 dams in the Kenya Kwanza Plan are a great initiative towards non-raid fed agriculture but assuredly, this would not be in a month or two. Some dams that began in Uhuru’s first term are yet to be finished.

Ruto was elected amid a simmering economic crisis requiring immediate attention and intervention and he was aware. The price of Unga had crossed the 200 mark and fuel was hitting Sh180 were it not for Uhuru subsidies. 

That obviously became fodder for campaigns with Uhuru and Raila, taking the flak. The immediate expectation therefore was these issues would be a priority in Ruto administration. 

However, months later, there is no reprieve. Early in the week, the Energy Regulatory Authority released its maximum prices for the month ending March 14th and there was no change.

Petrol would remain at Sh177 in Nairobi as diesel remains Sh162. The price of sugar has been rising. Kenyans have got used to buying cooking oil as if they are buying gold. 

For Unga, I can only think of two ways through which the prices would have been reduced. First, it was the subsidy that Ruto quickly set aside. Second, was to mop up every available grain first before subsidised imports.

The other long term plan is increase in NSSF rates. In the immediate future, workers are bothered by having to part with an extra shilling from a salary already battered by high inflation rates.

The number of students yet to report to Form One is a testament to this. It is not that Kenyans expected instant results. No. All they need was workable and promising turnaround programmes with incremental changes to their wellbeing. These issues are emboldening Azimio luminaries and their people’s baraza. Ruto must counter this with some quick interventions lest he finds himself where Uhuru was for a good part of his second term. The tide turned against him so much that he completely abandoned his social media handles.

The writer is anchor Radio Maisha