The year 2018 was a tough one for Kenyans. Coming fresh from a divisive election in 2017, the country had a huge task of picking up the pieces and trying to restore normalcy.
What is apparent is that some level of normalcy has returned, at least the political protagonists of the 2017 elections have ceased hostilities and are working together for now. This has provided the country a window in which to revitalise itself.
As the country moves into 2019, it must now take advantage of this lull to make progress as it has a lot of catching up to do. There are several key areas that Kenyans must focus on if they want to make any progress this year.
One, the fight against corruption must be strengthened, deepened and broadened. All levels and sectors at both national and county levels are seriously infected with this scourge. The Judiciary must undertake drastic action to fully immerse itself in this war by making convictions.
It is still a mystery why it has done nothing to set aside special courts to expeditiously hear and determine graft cases, the same way it deals with petitions.
Further, the long-awaited lifestyle audit of public servants must begin, and any wealth that cannot be accounted for, forfeited to the State. The nascent and hesitant attempts at assett recovery that have been going on in recent times need to be jerked up. So far, they have only caught shrimps. They need to rope in the big fish to convince Kenyans they are serious.
Two, jumpstart the economy. Last year was bad for business, and many are still suffering from the effects of the electioneering upheavals. The government must look for ways to get the economy moving, again. A critical place to start would be to pay off the billions that suppliers are owed by both levels of government, and then roll out a stimulus package.
Three, deal with road carnage. Why have all the authorities in Kenya, on whom the responsibility of road safety has been bestowed upon, been unable to stem the menace? Why do fatalities on our roads keep growing despite increased resource allocations to address key causes of accidents?
Four, focus on youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is a growing crisis that threatens the very fabric of Kenya’s society. Kenyans must not forget that massive social upheavals, including those that topple governments, result from masses of youth who have left school and wake up every day to hopelessness and what they deem governments insensitive to their plight.
In Kenya, millions of youth are spewed out of the school system every year onto the streets where they find little to occupy them. They become gangs for hire for any criminal or antisocial activities for a pittance, and their lives are wasting away, a whole nation’s heritage.
Five, politicians must behave more responsibly. They should tone down their rhetoric and inflammatory talk. They should extend their ceasefire to words. And because it seems impossible to cut out the talk of 2022, they should, at least, have sober discussions about it, not the current stoking of tensions that some politicians have resorted to.
Six, as the year ends, the education sector is in turmoil. From a chaotic rollout of the new school curriculum, to a threatened teachers’ strike, the education sector is moving into 2019 in upheaval.
However, the upheavals are nothing new. Indeed, there have been even more tumultuous times in this sector. However, it is clear that 2019 is a year when the education docket must be put back on track, and quickly.
Seven, the government must adopt a policy of putting people first in everything. If there are demolitions of so-called unplanned structures, where people are living or doing business, please secure alternatives before rendering them destitute.
If a major project is being undertaken that will displace people, pay people first before pushing them off their land. When politicians call youth out to protest, let them think about the inevitable deaths and look for other ways. Can 2019 become the year of putting people first?
Finally, 2019 should be the year of Kenyans to take charge of their own lives. Too many Kenyans wait for others—the government, their relatives, friends, whoever—as the person to make things work for them.
They have to take control of their own destiny. And that way, they can begin to reject handouts from politicians, pyramid schemes from get-rich-quick fraudsters, fake miracles from pastors who now dot every nook and cranny of Kenya, and other such undesirable outcomes.
If Kenyans resolved to adopt one or two of these depending on their station in life, the country might just start seeing a turnaround in its body politic in 2019. The country badly needs the makeover.