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Uhuru must tackle corruption to secure his legacy

COLUMNISTS
By David Oginde | March 8th 2015

Taking his place at independence as the first President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta identified poverty, ignorance and disease as the three key challenges facing the young nation. He thus set about to ensure these were dealt with decisively.

While at the time these were the most pressing concerns, it is apparent they are no longer issues that should occupy the energies of the second Kenyatta.

President Uhuru, who is now at half-time in his first term in office, cannot therefore hope to build his legacy by focusing on the same maladies his father set about to eradicate.

Likewise, even though President Kibaki chose the most visible strategy of growing the economy by investing in infrastructure, the young President must not fall into the trap of simply following suit.

There is no doubt that despite significant gains in economic development, there is a large proportion of the Kenyan population still languishing in abject poverty.

Likewise, in spite of several efforts at making basic education universally available to Kenyans, there are still many that have no access to quality education.

It is equally true that the fight against disease is still far from being won. There are many still struggling with serious diseases, and others dying from simple illnesses.

That is why the recent efforts to equip and upgrade the facilities at all Level Five hospitals across the counties is laudable. On the infrastructure front, a lot of development projects are going on across the nation in an unprecedented and highly commendable manner. Unfortunately, these are unlikely to place President Uhuru's leadership firmly on the legacy table.

As many observers have previously pointed out, the country is now faced with a completely different set of challenges that the President has to tackle to move this nation beyond where he found it. The patient he was handed over by his predecessors is suffering from two serious, and possibly terminal illnesses — tribalism and corruption. These have become viral, thereby weakening our national immune system and undermining our ability to withstand even the simplest of maladies.

It follows then that, as serious and as strategic all the development efforts may appear, they are focused on what have become merely opportunistic diseases that take advantage of our weakened immune system. It thus costs more to treat the patient that it should be. We, therefore, require a concerted effort to deal with this immune deficiency syndrome in our system that has become pervasive. I have reason to believe that President Uhuru is our spin-doctor on this front.

Unlike many of our leaders, President Uhuru did not get into leadership to establish an economic empire. That he already had. Nor did he set about to build for himself a name. That too he already had. But most importantly, he has not appeared as one who is driven by an inordinate desire for recognition and hero worship. Furthermore, as a younger person, he enjoys a broader worldview.

If these assumptions be true, then the President is one who before assuming office, had already crossed the treacherous leadership waters of money, fame and power that have undermined the good intentions of many leaders. This then would place Uhuru as the most strategic leader Kenya has ever had in dealing with the twin ailments of corruption and negative ethnicity. It would be a tragedy if he didn't.

That is why my heart has been strangely warmed by the recent move to finally slay the Anglo Leasing dragon. This is significant because it sends a signal that we can deal with our own weaknesses. It has been unfortunate that the British and US companies suspected to have dealt corruptly with our government have been brought to account in those nations while in Kenya, investigations have been eternal.

What is instructive about the arrests and convictions in those nations is that, unlike what has often been portrayed, Africans are not inherently corrupt, and Wazungus naturally clean.

To the contrary, it is the decisive way in which such evil is dealt with that helps many toe the line. It is a fact that the human heart is desperately wicked. Our evil tendencies can only be tamed by a consistent reinforcement of positive habits, buttressed by appropriate punishment for negative actions. It is for this reason, according to Scripture, that the leader is given the sword.

The President must, therefore, not be afraid to use his sword to perform the radical surgery that has eluded those gone before him. Kenyans can only rise in support. Like a patient, we are ready and willing to bear the temporary pain in expectation of a longer enjoyable life.

 

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