The expansive Northern Kenya region (previously known as NFD), which accounts for 20% of Kenya’s size, has been grappling with a myriad of problems and lagging behind the rest of the country.
These challenges are exacerbated by many human rights violations, institutionalized discrimination, and injustices that have not been fully addressed.
If any region is left behind, Kenya cannot prosper and attain the 2030 vision goals. Equal opportunities must be promoted for the 2030 vision to become a reality. An effective political leader with a proven track record of integrity, honesty, and commitment to the rule of law is needed to make opportunities accessible all over Kenya.
Raila Odinga, himself a visionary leader, needs an effective political co-driver. This leader would focus on the country’s long-term betterment, above and beyond any short-term personal gain. Martha Karua is a strong and effective political leader with a mixture of charm and honesty and the proven capacity to make choices based on what will be best for the majority.
Throughout her public service, Karua has exhibited a rare key leadership trait that is needed in a democratic system- statesmanship. She had exhibited honesty and the ability to stand up for what is just, even when it meant resigning from a powerful cabinet position. She has never been implicated in any corruption scandal. That is a high level of integrity, unusual among those who serve long periods in prominent public service positions.
It is said that a great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be. As the minister for water, Karua was convinced that Kenya badly needed radical water sector reforms. She steered and saw the successful implementation of the reforms that faced insurmountable opposition at the time. These reforms provided firm foundation for the solutions to water-related problems in the country. Thanks to these reforms, the challenges of water availability and accessibility in Northern Kenya were mitigated.
Karua has always been so passionate about social justice that she, at times, has taken a firm position in her advocacy for it. As Deputy President, her conscience and conviction will prevent her from doing nothing about the situation in Northern Kenya, where all socio-economic indicators fall significantly below the national average. For instance, the female literacy rate in the region is 41%, which is well below the national average of 89%.
The best blessing upon Kenya would be having a president and a deputy president who share reformist values. During the Moi era, Odinga and Karua were the vanguards of constitutional reform initiatives. . Their efforts in giving us the current constitution (of 2010) cannot be gainsaid.
One of the essential fruits of the current constitution is devolution. Devolution has been a blessing to the people of Northern Kenya and has partly addressed some of the socio-economic challenges in the region. Its constitutional protection notwithstanding, devolution, particularly concerning to Northern Kenya, has been under constant threat from extra-constitutional activities. Any threat to of devolution is deemed to be a continuation of the institutionalized discrimination the region’s populace has been subjected to. Odinga and Karua’s fidelity to the constitution will strengthen devolution. The people of Northern Kenya will also get solutions to the discriminatory laws, regulations, practices, and procedures that apply to them only and not to other Kenyans.
Odinga has always been at forefront of the push to leave no part of Kenya behind. Through his leadership as PM, a strategy for Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands was included in Kenya’s Vision 2030. The vision statement of the strategy is: A secure, just, and prosperous Northern Kenya and other arid lands, where people achieve their full potential and enjoy a high quality of life. With the support of Karua, who has exhibited an incredible commitment to creating a prosperous Kenya, there is no doubt that Odinga’s dream of attaining this vision for the region can be attained.
Without proper vigilance, government and corruption become intertwined, thus destroying the very purpose of governance and creating development disparities. Odinga’s anti-corruption agenda complemented by Karua’s integrity and servant leadership will move the country to prosperity and put Northern Kenya at par with the rest of the country.
Therefore, the people of Northern Kenya have every reason to vote for Baba na Mama, as Kenyans have dubbed the duo. Let’s do it!