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Luo leaders shouldn't use handshake to cover failures

By Joab Apollo | December 18th 2018

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first visit to Luo Nyanza since the divisive 2017 presidential election is a good step in promoting ethnic cohesion and inclusive leadership in the country.

However, Luo Nyanza leaders should not take advantage of Uhuru's handshake with Opposition leader Raila Odinga to conceal their failures.

Before the new constitutional dispensation which brought county governments, there was a belief, partly true, that successive regimes marginalized opposition areas, particularly Luo Nyanza, when initiating development projects.

Poor performing MPs sought solace in this argument to dupe the populace that the reason they could not help build good schools, initiate water projects and put up health facilities was because they were targeted. Rather than seek partnership with donors and the State, they instead channeled all their energies to incessant party politics.

In fact, basic facilities like electricity, good roads, brick-wall schools were unheard of in Luo land until the National Rainbow Coalition and the Grand Coalition government came to power.

The leaders advocated a devolved system of government as a replacement of a system which they viewed was punitive to areas seen to be anti-government. But little has changed in Nyanza since the emergence of devolution despite huge budgetary allocation to counties.

One can argue that the national government has been starving counties of money, but where do counties like Makueni and Kakamega get the money they have used to turn around the fortunes of their people?

Why did Kisumu and Siaya counties return money to Treasury in 2014 as elucidated in the Auditor General's report then? Who can believe that they could not spot a project in which to invest the money? Truth be told. County governments in Luo Nyanza have, and continue to, fail their people. Whether you are in Homa Bay and Migori or Kisumu and Siaya, what greets you are wrangles in the county assemblies.

In Kisumu County, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s regime is won’t to wax lyrical about the cleanliness of the CBD of Kisumu City every time people question his development agenda, ignoring the fact that the county is big and encompasses rural areas and estates.

In Homa Bay, development is stalled thanks to clan and politically induced feuds in the county assembly and the lackluster nature of Governor Cyprian Awiti. Siaya is worse. Governor Rasanga has failed to come up with a clear road map to transform the county into an economic hub.

In spite of being strategically located, linking Kenya and Tanzania, and boasting huge agricultural potential, Migori has nothing to show for its existence.

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