Mr President, it’s not too late to salvage your legacy

President Uhuru Kenyatta extends a handshake to Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho when the two met at Miritini in Mombasa County. [Maarufu Mohammed/Standard]

Mr President, the gale of disillusionment is sweeping through the country threatening to take away our clothes, yours included. By 2022, we just may all have been left naked.

Today, let us just acknowledge you are a final term president. Things would not be deteriorating if you decided to take advantage of the fact that you will not be seeking re-election and therefore immune to political expediency.

Over time, there has been a decay of the State and its instruments. It did not start with you, but it is either worsening under you or our level of expectation in the ‘digital’ age presidency you promised from 2012 is unrealistically high. It is also likely that our level of political consciousness has grown over time. It does not help that you could argue things were worse under your predecessors.

We are in the middle of a contraband sugar crisis. The consignments came through a window of imports your government opened last year (curiously in August after first round election window), and God knows from where: Brazil, South Africa or Dubai? Some even is for industrial use.

A 2022 ploy?

Your trusted Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, backed by the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti tells us they are laden with mercury. Your other CS Adan Mohammed says this is a lie. The sweet sugar deals are opening up schisms inside Jubilee, and your closest associates appear keen to subtly and cleverly project it as a bloodhound fed and nurtured by William Ruto’s wing.

They see it as a 2022 ploy to dump the prefect of the “Tanga Tanga’ movement. Be assured, they will fight back. In the end, both of you could end up like the proverbial Kilkenny cats that fought until only their tails remained.

Corruption, which is the bigger name for the sugar mess we are in, has also grown wings lately. From NYS I to NYS II, Kenyans believe all that we have on the manacle are the leg-men and women – those found with the piece of the carcass, not those who killed the prize cow. At the rate we are in, soon corruption will be another blossoming career field, an area of academic inquiry. It is just a waste of time to enumerate the cases we have heard, save to say that the most ludicrous is where Government bought its own land for billions in Ruaraka.

In the counties the eating spree is manifest in the myriad of accounting queries coming up and documented by the Auditor General. Because of kickbacks, millions’ worth of malfunctioning equipment have been shipped to our hospitals.

There is also the growing feeling that the State is cheapening the ‘value’ and ‘respect’ of certain institutional offices that define us as Kenyans under the banner of the so-called old-boy connections, nepotism, tribalism and even romantic connections. Now I don’t want to be too generous with what we often hear about this, but there are many stories about who probably sleeps with who and upon whom then the heavens have opened up with lofty appointment letters to the big offices. Just for clarity, it does not necessarily mean it is the women who get the letters; the reverse is also increasingly true.

You know too well as a student of Economics, Mr President, that good fathers and mothers only live within their means. They cut on extravagance and borrow only when inevitable. In Kenya, however, those who we have put in power, led by you, have resorted to borrowing for days on end for projects like the SGR, and roads and airports, which we will pay back in the next millennia when banana and mango trees will have grown and died too over our graves. We borrow as if there is no tomorrow and conservative estimates show next year we will hit the Sh5 trillion debt mark.

We could go on Mr President, but that is enough for today. What is important to note are the three new ingredients to the problems we are facing. The first is that there are obvious signs of a fallout between you and your deputy. There all manner of accusations flying around and narrowing down to which side is more corrupt. Two, you have shown, albeit belatedly and seemingly reluctantly, fire in the belly to fight graft and general decay in your government.

But then, Kenyans have welcomed the feeble effort to right the things that have gone wrong. They also expect more and will stand by you if you go for the high priests of corruption. To do so, Mr President, you first have to first clear them from your breakfast table. And to succeed, you need to read more from the book of final term presidents, especially on building enduring legacies.

But let no one lie to you; it won’t be easy or achievable overnight. It will require more than shaking the hand of Raila Odinga. And for sure, it will require a change of mindset from all of us; the leaders and the led.

Mr Tanui is Deputy Editorial Director and Managing Editor, The Standard. [email protected]