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Ruto will suffer politically if fake fertiliser cartels go unpunished

Opinion

When Francis Fukuyama observed in his book ‘Political order and political decay’ that in political development, not all good things go together, he possibly had a polity like ours in mind. A country of great potential and resilient people and hotbed of political talents but constantly let down by people in positions of responsibility.

The de-escalation of political tension earlier in the year should have been our signal from the heavens that it is now our moment to set aside childish things as the scripture tells us. But we got mired in the unfortunate story of fake fertiliser distributed to farmers and the crippling healthcare infrastructure that has left so many Kenyans exposed with nowhere else to turn to.

Let me state from the outset that if the President does not show the country what he can do to those who play with the lives of Kenyans in this fertiliser scandal, he will not only have a political blowback to deal with but also personal responsibility to bear. The President has appeared merciful, faithful and kind to the people who helped him campaign for the high office. But as Nicollo Machiavelli advises in his famous book ‘The Prince’ he should be flexible enough to use the opposite qualities when necessary.

The investment in the agriculture sector in the last one year, however modest, had sent positive signals. In less than 18 months we have completely obliterated ‘unga’ from our political lexicon. To undermine all that by jeopardising farmers’ capacity to take advantage of this season of long rains borders on nothing but high treason.

Common sense governments across the globe invest seriously in five things. Defence, Security (in discharging the responsibility of the state as the source of legitimate force), education, healthcare and food security. It is instructive to note that all these five sectors are in less than perfect shape. The bandits in the North Rift continue to have a field day. Less than a month ago, they fatally shot an elected leader and the country moved on. Citizens don’t feel safe in the streets. A study conducted in January 2024 by Numbeo ranked Nairobi as the ninth unsafest city in Africa with a crime index of 59.2 per cent. Burglary and muggings were shown to be some of the most prevalent crimes in Nairobi.

Education has had its fair share of problems but the sector stakeholders managed to successfully wind up Term One and children are now at home in the hands of their parents. As the government prepares for Term Two in May, it must ensure that for the sake of our children’s future, the capitation arrears are cleared so as to enable school administrators to run the institution of learning smoothly. The future of this country is as elegant as the investment it puts in our children’s education. We must never compromise that.

This squarely takes me back to agriculture. The capacity of this country to stand on its own two feet is domiciled in agriculture. That is why one of the richest regions of this country, the Mount Kenya region, has never entertained any jokes with their tea, coffee and dairy sector. It’s a lesson that citizens from other regions must learn.

To genuinely strengthen the shilling and see a corresponding change in the lives of the people as the most significant fundamental of the economy, we must shore up our productive capacity. To materially put a dent on child mortality and maternal mortality, we must eliminate malnutrition. To have a workforce that is productive, we must be able to definitively answer the question of food security.

But all these would never see light of day if unscrupulous, soulless profiteers can package pebbles and donkey feaces as fertiliser. What level of human greed is that? What are the safety measures to ensure that what ends up on the plate of Kenyans is fit for human consumption?

And as we seek answers, we must know what our security and intelligence apparatus were doing instead of disrupting the illegitimate economic interests, that is now a threat to national security.

Mr Kidi Mwaga the convenor Inter Parties Youth Forum

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