In uncharacteristic fashion and really out of the blue, the President gave a long list of initiatives his government wanted to undertake in the region.
He decried the neglect the region had suffered under the previous administrations and firmly promised that the North will be a priority area for his administration.
Ten years down the road, did the President keep his promise? Or, like the many promises he didn’t keep and the many agreements he breached, was the promise to the North just another unkept promise?
To the credit of the Kibaki administration, Northern Kenya didn’t experience any serious violation of human rights like it did under the Moi administration.
But in terms of policy and governmental attitude, the Kibaki administration has pursued a policy of containment in relation to Northern Kenya.
That containment policy has put the region in an under-development capsule that freezes any meaningful societal advancement.
In this containment policy, the Office of the President basically saw the North and its inhabitants as people who want to take over the rest of Kenya.
This policy was underpinned by a xenophobic propaganda principally fuelled by the government at very high levels that Northerners were a locust invasion ready to take over businesses and property in many parts of the country.
The infamous move to audit properties owned by members of the Somali in Nairobi and principally initiated by Francis Kimemia was an integral part of a larger governmental scheme.
The national census result was an issue that sent cold shivers down the spines in the Office of the President.
The moment the result was announced showing the numbers in the North had greatly increased from the previous census, the Office of the President was enraged. It undertook a huge campaign to have the same cancelled. And, indeed, the results were cancelled.
National census figures are usually a very contested political issue in ethnically polarised countries.
Professor Ali Mazrui in his book, Africa: The Triple Heritage, gives an excellent account of how the Kenyatta administration used to fiddle with the figures. The Moi administration was no different. The Kibaki government, when it comes to Northern Kenya, is the same.
The Office of the President was principally enraged by both the political and economic consequences of a national census showing that the population of Northern Kenya has greatly increased.
This rage was also underpinned by the fact that with an increase in numbers, the region will be entitled to more representation in Parliament.
The recent cancellation of examination results in the three counties in North Eastern shows the containment policy at work. It is logically inconceivable for the entire province, right from Mandera to Garissa, to have committed the same examination cheating.
Contrary to widely held view that it was the Examination Council that cancelled the results, the truth of the matter is that the decision to cancel the results was made at higher levels in government. Reports written by intelligence officials in the three counties forced the government’s hand on the issue.
President Kibaki has stated that his legacy will be defined by infrastructure development throughout the country.
To his credit, the President has undertaken massive projects, even though the contract prices for these infrastructure projects are 10 to 30 per cent higher than the real value price of the projects.
The only region in the country President Kibaki didn’t undertake a single project is North Eastern. Not even a kilometre of road. This shows the exclusionary policy of the regime at work.
The containment philosophy towards Northern Kenya did not allow the administration to build a kilometre of road.
Ahmednasir Adbullahi is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Daily Nation