Is A Regional Political Party Necessary?
By HASSAN MALIK MOHAMED
Some Northern Kenya leaders advocated for the formation of a pastoralist political party during a recent merrymaking event of Wajir governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud with respect to the controversial upholding of his election by the Supreme Court. Proponents of this suggestion that originally arose in 2016 stridently cited shared snags as the basis for why pastoralist zones, which account for 16 counties, should politically team for prosperity and a superior bargaining power on a national scale. However, the proposition and its concomitant motivations are an unapprised deviancy from the transformed political and economic landscape in Kenya today where each expanse can tangibly unlock its potential without needing political consciousness raising, provided it gets competent leaders as proven in the previously marginalized parts of Ukambani. Were it timed prior to the dawn of the new Constitution and devolved governments, pastoralist leaders could have had a valid base to explain the need for founding such a party since at that juncture distribution of national resources was upsettingly skewed and political lobbying and sycophancy outlined what one could recieve as a share of development. But thankfully that dark era is gone and billions of shillings from the exchequer now annually stream to pastoralist areas for local administration and development. In point of fact, the counties of Mandera and Turkana are among the top recipients of devolution money nationally. On top of the large sums of devolution money, there are also coffers attached to legislators and another Ksh 6.2 billion for equalization fund which is exclusively offered as a restitution for the past imbalances on account of the historic government policy of overlooking arid and semi-arid lands because of the prolonged usage of an economic blueprint that relied on terrestrial potency as the baseline for measuring economic viability and subsequent budgetary allocations. The new way of doing things has begun to alter the desolation in pastoralist precincts by progressively introducing and improving the ABCs of development such as roads, water and healthcare facilities.Nevertheless, the journey to success is far from complete and people are still beset with various major growth challenges whose causes are mainly local. The failures of the local leadership are for the most part to blame for the current marginalization that people in Northern Kenya and other pastoralist areas are grouchy about. Some of the leaders from this parts of the country have regularized maladministration through evasiveness, mediocrity, favouritism and misappropriation of public resources as fairly confirmed in the annual reports of the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission and the Auditor General, hence generating a home-based decline and sidelining that insults the objectives of devolution, public kitties and leadership at large. The submission for a pastoralist political party can also been seen as a thankless negation of the extraordinary influence pastoralists have attained in the current administration.Without needing to mention names, pastoralist leaders presently occupy various important seats of power and they can easily sway policy decisions in government if they truthfully care. It would be unpersuasive for one to for instance say that the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale would need another party to gain influence for he has continuously illustrated how close he is to the presidency. So, the issue is not one of lack of influence but lack of its proper use. I could have supported their move if it was about creating a strong pastoralist economic block but it seems like pastoralist leaders want to misleadingly revive the outdated historical narrative of a struggle between herders and agriculturalists where herders are depicted as sufferers who have been traditionally coldshouldered by the agrarian cluster that represents a recurring domination in state power and resources. Looking at it, one would think that Rahel Farooq particularly had our pastoralist leaders in mind when she creditably observed that ‘Politics is the only art whose artists regularly disown their masterpieces’. It’s high time the leaders stopped the whining and use the unprecedented power and resources at their disposal nowadays to transform pastoralist areas in a notable fashion.