Our Moral Compass and The Phoney Bridge
Yesterday in Wajir, one of the oldest towns in Kenya, Governors, Members of parliament, former parliamentarians, politicians of every shade, professionals, the young and the old converged under tents said to cost 6 million shillings and talked, for 3 hours, to a people who had no electricity for weeks, whose animals are dying in the dozens and many of their bright students languishing in poverty for lack of money to pursue education. They were made to stand under the scorching sun to listen to political statements lacking in substance. The event dubbed ‘Building Bridges’ brought many people from Nairobi together. The administration said it was meant to bring people together and reconcile the former and current governor after the long court petition. It is all good to bring people together and build bridges but there are many more efficient and moral ways to do exactly that. Spending a whopping 40 million shillings on lunch for the rich in 3 hours under expensive tents is certainly not one of them. In any case the former governor was not there to shake the hand of the current and the rhetoric coming from some of the speakers was not one of reconciliation. It looked like they were more willing to isolate some than bring people together. This will only draw people farther apart and in the end the ordinary Abdi and Halima will continue to suffer from poor services and inapproriate use of their resources.
The county spent, in 3 short hours, shillings 40 Million to feed 6 governors, dozens of parliamnetarians, professionals and many others from Nairobi who, came back to their cosy houses and offices after the sumptious meal. The Uluma should tell the masses if this meal was Halal. The owners of the millions spent in this 3 hour extravaganza were not consulted. If they were asked the most beneficial way to spend 40 million shillings of their money, the last they would have suggested was to give it as an expensive lunch gift to the rich. In this era of darkness where Wajir residents are turning into charcoal under the 40*C sun, they would have said provision of reliable energy would be much more beneficial for them. Instead the leaders said they will just spend the shillings 40 million on lunch anyway. In this day of cyclic drought where pastrolists are experiencing water shortage and myriad other challenges including mass hunger and death of their animals the best the leaders entrusted with their wealth said was it is OK to spend shillings 40 million on lunch for the rich. The county administration found it fit to waste 40 million shillings in 3 hours despite the huge challenges the people of Wajir are grappling with. Not a single soul that was asked to speak to the people yesterday spoke against this heartrending action or spoke for the small man. It clearly demonstrates the dearth of moral and right thinking people.
How much would shillings 40 million do instead? It will ensure all the bright kids in the entire county get the opportunity to pursue the education they need all the years they want. It will make a substantive sum of seed money to confine the devastating power outages that cripple businesses and even cost lives to the dustbin of history. It will provide the nomads, the water they need and the pasture they fight over. It will help many travelling to Nairobi for health services to stay at home and get the medication they need. It will do a lot more. Unfortunately those entrusted with our wealth saw it fit to splash it in 3 hours. We are a people increasingly looking like psychopaths. Psychopaths are people who believe that the rules of approriate behaviour do not apply to them. Splashing millions of money under the watchful eyes of the poor owner and showing no remorse is a trait of a psychopath. As the future gets bleak the actions of omissions and commissions of those bestowed with the responsibility to safeguard and manage the resources of the people get a lot scarier.
In the advent of devolution, we were hopeful that we would have leaders who will be focused on transforming the lives of the poor. Devolution was seen as the saviour of the marginalized communities as the national cake was decentralized and services brought closer to the people. It was seen as a magic wand against the marginalization of the people of the North by successive regimes. The anti-dot to centralization of resources. Instead, in the North, devolution is eating its own children. Our leaders are an excellent manifestation of how devolved units should not function.
After 2 years of court battle where the curent governor was controversially declared the winner, the last thing the people of Wajir had to continue enduring was wasting of resources. The administration has been accused of many ills including corruption, nepotism and poor services. The EACC has taken to court some of its officials including the former County Secretary. The lame excuse of the administration was that because of the court petition it could not extend services to the electorate. The expectation was that it will hit the road running to deliver supposedly pending projects. However, a month after the court case was resolved, it was shocking to observe that it would announce how it would work for us by splashing 40 million shillings belonging to the poor on tents and lunch. The governor, a pleasant old man who likes to solve conflicts amicably was said to be living in a 5 star hotel. Sadly he is not the exception but the rule. Many governors live in 5 star hotels in the city harldy accessible to their electorate. Some live in presidential suites.
In yesterday’s County lunch meeting many professionals, elders and even Islamic Scholars attended. Not a single soul said a word against the immoral gathering where money belonging to the poor was embezzled. Whatever happened to the moral compass of our people? What future are we leaving our children? What morals are we teaching them? When will people stand up and say ”It is wrong, immoral and therefore unislamic?” like it was in the days of yore.
What happened in Wajir yesterday was wrong and should not be allowed to happen again. Many people are openly and loudly in support of such wrong actions or inactions. Might is not right and the few must not allow to be silenced by the many. People must speak up against it now or they would be held accountable on the day of reckoning. In silence we all become complicit.