By LUKOYE ATWOLI
Sunday Nation 12 April 2009, Page 24
A number of disturbing occurrences are going on in this country while those with the responsibility of safeguarding the welfare of the citizenry are practically sleeping on the job.
Although a lot has been said about them, there is troubling silence from officialdom, with senior government officials only busying themselves with politically correct survival measures. Sample the following two instances.
The Government of the Republic of Uganda recently hoisted a flag on territory most people know is Kenya’s. After some dithering and dissembling, the Kenya Government entered into negotiations with junior functionaries from Uganda, resulting in an agreement on “joint patrols” and a timeframe for further talks.
The agreement was promptly dismissed by junior patrolmen in the Ugandan armed forces and they vowed to continue controlling the territory “until they get orders from their superiors”.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan citizens living on Migingo island are paying tax to the Uganda Revenue Authority, the Ugandan flag flutters in the breeze from Lake Victoria and the Uganda People’s Defence Force patrols the island.
As if that is not bad enough, the Kenya government dispatched the Commissioner of Police to Kampala to negotiate! He appears to have been mostly ignored by government officials in Uganda, and there is no indication of what he achieved there.
All this time our senior government officials continue to enjoy their cushy positions and club memberships, our military continues to organise “joint exercises” and enjoy a tax-free existence, and our politicians continue to bicker.
In the second scenario, scientists have come up with incontrovertible findings to the effect that destruction of the Mau forest complex will lead to the death and desertification of most of the western part of this country. This vital ecological lifeline may yet be salvaged if those currently resident in the forest are asked to leave and trees are replanted.
As is customary in these parts, this is the point when politicians with vested interests start crawling out of the woodwork making all sorts of threats.
Further examination of the evidence indicates that most of the noise makers own huge tracts of irregularly allocated land in the forest.
Yet without batting an eyelid they seek to present themselves as champions for the rights of “their people” and make political mileage out of a matter of survival for this country.
In all this grandstanding, nobody is offering an alternative solution to counter the apocalyptic scenario the scientists have presented. Instead, some people take it upon themselves to cause further destruction of the forest by setting the forest on fire, ostensibly to create more space for human settlements!
As usual, the Kenya Government dithers and prevaricates in its response. It appears clear that nothing will be done about Mau forest in the near future, at least until after the next General Election.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the future of our children is in jeopardy, but most of those in power care little since they do not see themselves in that future.
As it is, they are fully preoccupied strategising how to become the country’s next CEO in a few years’ time.
They do not mind if the country ceases to exist in the next 30 years, since most of them will have kept their appointments with their Maker by then, leaving their children and grandchildren to grapple with the messes they leave behind.
These two scenarios are symptomatic of this government’s handling of critical matters, and it is doubtful that one could find better illustrations of a government that is not in control of its own territory.
Put together with corruption at all levels of government, armed militias freely roaming the countryside and invisibility of government in large swathes of this country, the indicators of a failed state are all in place.
Kenyans need to ask themselves some really hard questions if we are to emerge from this phase of our history with some lessons learnt.
Whose interests does this government serve? Is there any among the entire political leadership who thinks beyond their stomachs and the next General Election?
It may be time, as argued by many in these columns, for us to earnestly start the search for alternative leadership to save this country from these predatory leaders with no vision for our future.
For those that truly hold reformist ideals, this is the time to stand up to be counted. We must begin pushing a pro-Kenya agenda, and push aside those that persist in chauvinistic, self-centred politics.
Dr Lukoye Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at Moi University’s School of Medicine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org