“They said you could not make it. Prove them wrong,” counsels Jon Jones, American professional mixed martial artist. No other person should find this quote useful than President William Ruto. Indeed, Dr Ruto will outdo Uhuru Kenyatta because he has much to prove.
There is no doubt that Ruto must perform if he has to prove his critics wrong. Unlike Raila Odinga, the 2022 campaigns soiled his image and a critical number of Kenyans still believe that his government will fail. I have heard a plethora of propaganda, which dominated his opponents’ campaigns, that, if elected, Ruto could cut the last life cord of Kenya.
Even when we know that Ruto has been a performer, the narratives were so strong that he would need the confidence of all and sundry. Nevertheless, the fifth president is sailing on political grace—because, after the removal of the oil subsidy, citizens are confident that this stress won’t last for long. Citizens everywhere have no problem making sacrifices, provided they are sure their contribution to the Treasury is spent wisely and invested in ways that assure future returns.
Reportedly, the outgoing government fleeced the Treasury and only left a paltry Sh93.7 million. It has also emerged that the treasury released Sh23 billion in the last days of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime. If that is true, the fifth president has inherited a broke government.
So, while the ponderous task for Ruto was to win the 2022 presidential election and head the fifth government, critics will capitalise on the short-term promises that he made during his campaign. As such, his government might have to deploy strategic tankers as he brings the country back to factory settings. Here are a few things he can consider.
First, Ruto must tackle corruption eyeball to eyeball. His opponents insisted he could not fight corruption and incessantly accused him of the same. But, if he- takes the monster head-on, it will become news and prove that his faultfinders were dead wrong!
Secondly, his government must restore the trust that the political locust, the cankerworms and the caterpillar ate. The best way to do this is to assure Kenyans that he is resetting the country with them in mind. So, unlike any other government in our time, the hustler regime must build trust with Kenyans.
There is proof that citizens are willing to bear the political liability. Kenyans are buying petrol at a higher price than before the swearing-in of the fifth president. Notably, there are a few complaints, but that doesn’t mean they will always keep quiet. If Kenyans have to continue contributing to the national treasury, the government must prove that they can utilise their hard-earned money well.
Fourth, the country needs an alternative means of revenue generation apart from taxation. It is hurting that taxation is the primary source of revenue for the government. Winston Churchill said, "for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” The high cost of living that the country is experiencing will continue unless the government create various sources of income. This way, it will have money to invest in its productive population that is currently idle.
Lastly, the government must find innovative ways of cushioning Kenyans' money from hungry cartels and individuals. Illicit financial flows through these cartels and persons call for an investment in digitised revenue collection.
During his campaigns, Ruto insisted that much money is lost because our revenue collection processes are porous. Therefore, sealing the holes through which our money is derailed for personal gains is long overdue.
In conclusion, the president has no option but to deliver. His government must outperform the previous regime. It will not matter even if it means such fruits become evident in his second term.
Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer in School of Music and Media at Kabarak University