GOVERNMENT; FOR US OR FOR WHOM? by Maroko Nyachio

MAROKO NYACHIO is a hand cart operator

In the wake of the report on the mistreatment of Kenyan workers, in the railway sector by foreign contractors, the government, through its spokesman dismissed the allegations as self-centered activism that it has no tolerance for. I have always been confused about the real essence of government in relation to its people. I do not know if I should attribute this to my limited education or whether it is occasioned by the confusion one draws from observing day to day government operations. From my ignorant assumption, I would opine that a government should come to fore as an initiative of the people, informed by the need to have a harmonious existence out of man’s interdependency.

With all the naivety of my assumption, I would be forgiven for the consternation with which I received the government communiqué. With a straight face and no minced words, the spokesperson relayed what he called ‘the government position’! After all was said, the sum of it all was that, the government, chided its people, for daring to complain about mistreatment by ‘contractors’ of the state working on a government flagship project which the government has been all too keen to remind all and sundry that it was above board. No questions, no complains, just bow down.

You see, I would have no problem with this kind of attitude. I know all too well that authority is not something to be questioned in this part of the world, I don’t even object if authority exhibited dictatorial tendencies (you can throw your stones) benevolent or not. I wouldn’t mind being spoken down to, or being reminded where I belong, I would prostrate to authority if required to. But that is if, and only if, the government is established by the people, for service to the people, and strictly in the interests of the people. This way, I would bubble up with patriotism, but under the current dispensation, I confess to have none. And for the proponents of ‘najivunia kuwa mkenya’, I request that you share the glories that I’m missing out on.

From my limited point of view, I would presume that the very essence of a government would be the security of its people. And its core mandate to guard against any threats, real or perceived so that its people live in harmony and happiness, what in mechanical terms would be called ‘shock absorber’. But the security of a people is the people themselves. People are stronger when they combine their strengths and pull their resources together. To do this, they have to establish a central point of coordination; which births the government. The government’s most valuable asset is the people, they are the primary capital. The progress and of any Nation depends on its ability to utilize its human resource, physical and intellectual, for the overall exploitation of its natural resources.

The physical human resource is manual labour, the intellectual resource is skills and knowledge. How a people are adept at exploiting these two resources has an overall bearing on their standing in the larger society. A Nation that ensures total utilization of the two consolidates its value; any that sources any of the two from outside its borders exports its value. A government can fall short of the physical human capital if it is hit by a population shortage, (which case we don’t suffer); the intellectual capital if its people are slow in exploring the secrets of the universe. But this does not in any way limit their capability to grasp and execute. It therefore behooves the government facing this challenge to spare no effort in acquiring and arming its people with the requisite knowledge and skills, in order to harness the full potential of its people and consolidate their value and sustain their dignity.

But when a government outsources physical human resource, intellectual resource and material capital, like in the case of the SGR, it raises questions like first, do those in government honestly understand the object, role and function of government (of which they can be forgiven if they don’t), or do they have an outside agenda which is contrary to the object of ‘government’? This, I ask because; by the government importing manual and skilled labour, regardless of the project, when it is grappling with runaway unemployment; is that not a travesty? By this very act, it devalues the people, and swaps their essential capital and exposes them to indignity. By government admission, Kenya has no shortage of qualified and skilled people; it only questions their ability to deliver on standard, and finds excuse in the argument that even the private sector is sidestepping locals for expatriates. This begs the question; whose prerogative is it, to ensure proper utilization of our potentials?

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f-Maroko Nyachio
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