Renowned editor Olakunle Agboola once said every country is made of citizens, and its strength or weakness depends on citizens’ character.
Nearly a month after a hotly-contested election, Kenyans have received praise for giving the rule of law a chance in manoeuvring a treacherous post-election period up to the determination of the presidential petition by the Supreme Court.
A country that can manage its own destiny is destined for greatness. We’re on track, from baby steps to giant strides in nurturing democracy. It can only get better. With the polls done and dusted, real work must now begin.
After a deserved win at the ballot, President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua now have their work cut out for them, and the good thing is they fully appreciate the enormity of the task ahead. The duo has repeatedly assured an eager nation that they will serve every Kenyan irrespective of how they voted, and the deep-seated post-election sour grapes notwithstanding.
On Thursday, President Ruto made his inaugural address while opening the 13th Parliament. He used the occasion to set on stage his overall agenda. He has the software of what needs to be done. What remains to be seen is how the Legislature will deliver a hardware and a rationale that support his mission.
Serious business must now begin because the nation has never been more expectant. For the Kenya Kwanza leaders to see their manifesto yield fruit, Parliament is a key cog. Members will need to churn our requisite quality and timely legislation.
They will need to vet nominees for various high-profile jobs besides partaking the budgeting and allocation of resources to mega projects, including the much-touted Hustlers’ fund. At this moment in time, Parliament must be alive to what’s at stake. The President’s vision for the country requires Parliament to be selfless in its agenda. The House, and indeed every organ of the State, must distinguish themselves by rising above parochial interests to do whatever it will take to ensure the President’s agenda succeeds.
Ruto has set the ball rolling with bold proposals to bolster the economy. The measures include tasking the Treasury to save Sh300 billion in budget. He also wants and informal sector pension plan crafted and the CDF brought back for purposes of growth at the grassroots.
Public interest must remain sacrosanct at all times. The proposition to have Cabinet Secretaries answer questions in Parliament is timely. Accountability will be central in delivering change. There’s need to tinker with the Standing Orders to allow CSs face the much-needed scrutiny without having to hide behind written speeches and technocrats.
The new administration has equally named its Cabinet nominees, which has won praise, especially among women. There are 10 women nominees. Although the number is far short of the 50 per cent share he had promised, it is no doubt a step in the right direction.
The ball now is on Parliament’s court. The MPs have enormous power to exercise on behalf of the people. The House should vet the nominees in accordance with the law. But from a cursory look, the nominees are men and women of no mean repute. Ruto has said he respects separation of powers. The House must endeavour to do the right thing at all times.
Granted, Ruto’s success will be ours. His failure too will be ours. We have a collective responsibility to support him. The three arms of government will need each other more than ever in leading the country’s rebirth. It’s not time for name-calling. Neither is it time for discriminating each other on grounds of political beliefs. We have a task at hand.
-The writer is treasurer, Centre for Multiparty Democracy