By BICHANGA WALTER OKIBO
When a government agrees to use home grown ideas in effecting its mandate, be it partly or wholly, then it’s bound to propel itself to greater heights.
I watched the news on our local TV stations on Monday, April 14, 2014, and indeed it was and is a great pleasure to learn that finally, the Government recognised and picked the idea of putting the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits to use besides what they were initially meant for. The Government and the country as a whole stand a chance to benefit from this ‘new project’.
In my opinion, the IEBC is the rightful custodian of the kits and, therefore, the Government should liaise with them to find the way forward. I know part of the Kenyan fraternity could by now be thinking of rushing to court to protest against this noble idea, but on this, give me a break! We need to be realistic and take a practical approach.
Instead of condemnation, let us give the Government our benediction. But of course, I fully understand that in our Constitution, every Kenyan has a right to be heard, so I stand to be corrected.
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If the kits could talk, they would demand answers to a number of questions, among them: why did you ship us all the way from wherever? Do we have to rust in the IEBC go-downs? If indeed, this is a digital country led by digital gentlemen who want to ‘digitalise’ everything, are we not part of the digital revolution?
Absolutely, if we are going to just keep these multi-billion shilling gadgets idle and waiting to be utilised again in the next General Election, then we are bound to be faced with a series of challenges that will leave us with only wishful thinking once the damage has been done.
Some of the gadgets will have been misplaced or lost, the technology will have become obsolete and drained in the gallows before being utilised, others will have been damaged to mention a few! Can they be trusted in such a state to be used in another election, really? Like I said before, we shall have created a bigger ‘white elephant’ if not a ‘black’ one.
Since the Government picked this idea, it is imperative to have vigorous consultations between it and the IEBC as probably demonstrated when the news came to light.
The idea to involve IEBC and the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in the registration of persons is very welcome; after all, they are stakeholders. The Government could also be keeping them more occupied.
In my understanding, and I stand to be corrected here, IEBC conducts the registration of voters, which is a minority of the population, presides over major elections and any by-election that may arise.
Thus, given the chance to conduct the registration exercise, it would perhaps involve part of the youth who were trained to conduct the March 2013 elections and were rendered jobless soon afterwards.
Wait a minute, couldn’t this be an opportunity to create a few of the jobs promised by the Jubilee Government?
In fact, we have many such opportunities right on our doorsteps yet we keep asking ourselves where the jobs are. We should take advantage of such opportunities. It is for this reason and many others that I fully support the Government in this endeavour.
Remember the protests and the predictions surrounding the kits? Lest we have forgotten, there was a lopsided figure in the purchasing of the gadgets.
Whoever sold them to us must be comfortably making more profit and probably waiting to strike another deal of the same kind with the Government, perhaps before the next General Election.
Hopefully, the same thing won’t happen again.
Dr Okibo is Senior Lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology