Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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Many still hold fresh memories of a man who On January 17, 2008 chained himself to the gates of Kenya police headquarters at vigilance House along Harambee Avenue in Nairobi, in what he called the protest of justice to end the merciless civilian killings by security agents at the height of the post election violence.
Today, Andrew Okiya Okoiti Omtata is a man who will not stop at anything to see that justice is served and impunity is unheard of in the era where corruption, lawlessness and lack of accountability by top officials carry the order of the day.
Andrew Okiya Okoiti Omtata is a Kenyan citizen who comes from Busia County in western Province.
He was born and raised in kwang’amor village in south Teso location, Busia district; this was after his late grandfather migrated from Buyofu, in Nambale Constituency.
Omtata then attended a local primary school around his home area and later on Went to St. Paul’s Amukura high school.
He was thereafter admitted at Saint Peters Seminary in Mukumu to study priesthood. Omtata confirms that he later on gave up on priesthood studies to join the Kenya Polytechnic, now the Kenya Polytechnic University to pursue an engineering course.
Other institutions that he has been admitted to include Tindinyo College and Mabanga philosophical.
He is an author, a writer of opinions and/ or articles which are published in local dailies as well as a blogger.
Branded by many as an activist, Omtata says he does not consider his actions anywhere close to activism, he says that his actions are informed by what is recommended in the bible; he draws life lessons from the bible, the teachings of which he carries on his daily undertakings.
Omtata says he never joined activism, he confirms that his urge to fight for the rights of the oppressed is pegged on bible teachings and further refers to activism as the witnessing or being the witness of Christ in the world, including Making the will of God be done on earth as pronounced in the Lord’s prayer.
“I believe in one thing that as a Christian, there is a command to love your neighbor and a command to love your God. Christ commands us to be witnesses,” he says.
He relates to the Bible story of the Good Samaritan which calls on Christians to stand up for others in times of need.
His activism is founded on his Christian faith including lessons attained from the Lord’s Prayer, the greatest commandment, the story of Good Samaritan.
Omtata equates fighting corruption to fighting demonic empires that bring about poverty, and terms Corruption as a huge syndicate in government in which almost everybody is involved.
He further reveals that his outspoken nature has been with him since his school days. He always stood up against unjust treatment, a trait that was noticed by his teachers who always indicated in his report card that he was an outspoken but honest student.
Omtata recounts his biggest achievement in activism to be the fight to prevent the Kenya National Theatre from being taken over by the Norfolk hotel.
He stood up to the former regime, when the theatre was about to be taken over by the hotel and did a one man show including a 7day hunger strike, which paid off.
Another successful mission in his life he says was in June this year when he managed to organize a successful demonstration against corrupt education Ministry officials who squandered funds meant for Free Primary education.
Omtata says the accomplishment in this matter came into perspective when he managed to take a plea to the president at statehouse; where he says the problem lies.
He believes that ending corruption in the shortest time possible is a call and a challenge to the current generation of which should not be delayed.
The current generation, he adds, has the responsibility to Say no to corruption in this country and ensure that all the squandered resources are channeled to proper causes that can change the destiny of Kenya.
This, he says is Possible to achieve through innovating, diversifying and industrializing, and could transform Kenya from a third to a first world.
He blames lack of awareness amongst the current generation as the greatest obstacle to containing the corruption menace.
“The Biggest impediment is that the level of consciousness is very low in the generation, people have formed safe heavens,” he says.
Despite his achievement in bringing to book lords of impunity, Omtata reveals that indeed activism is very expensive. The process of hiring lawyers, transporting witnesses, is costly when he is put on trial.
Further, he blames Kenyan Courts which he says are used to enhance impunity, abuse and police perjury.
In this perspective, Omtata reveals that most of the times he is arrested, police place false charges against him, leading to disorganization and more expenses during the trial process
Omtata adds that though he walks away scot-free after most cases are dismissed, he always has to spend a huge amount of money in the entire trial process.
He holds that the constitution stipulates that it is an offense to lie to the court, but fails to understand why the police are immune to this law when they lie against innocent people. They, like the ordinary Mwananchi should face tantamount treatment in the event that they commit perjury.
Most arrests are framed up, which he says is a waste of time, of which could be otherwise used to perform productive duties.
Even though the old constitution still enjoying incumbency, Omtata is quick to add that Political and colonial oppression have been effectively addressed by the new order.
He observes that though the war on political oppression has been won, economic oppression resulting from corruption is yet to be addressed.
The setbacks in the economic rejuvenation he says are brought about by the old order of fighting, lack of proper planning, lack of vision, wastefulness in industry and that there is need for concerted efforts to stop these factors that push up poverty levels.
He sees the urgent need to establish a developmental state which will ensure that the government intervenes strategically to lift people out of poverty, so that they engage in a free enterprise; and not letting the markets crush people and take away the little they have accumulated.
He further clarifies that the reason he was on the frontline in opposing the new constitution last year was solely for the motive that the draft took away economic liberation gains of the country, “political gains are there but economic gains have been ripped.”
He faults the way the constitution addresses most issues from a point of view of differences not similarities especially the minorities’ agenda.
Omtata observes the Need to closely work on and improve the document which he says is not a perfect document per se.
When it comes to the new constitution provision to reserve a third representation by women in parliament, Omtata says he sees no logic behind the provision.
He says that the decision on elective posts is a discretion of the people. He likens the idea to an insult to democracy, best described as a reverse discrimination.
He also questions the structure of parliament; why Senate is inferior to the National Assembly whereas a senator represents a larger area than an MP.
He says the citizens needs more time to cut through new Constitution to get to the bitter pill.
Omtata concludes that The Positive aspect of the constitution altogether is that it promotes accountability.
In terms of rural development, the justice crusader regrets that such areas have been left to wilt on their own, an impediment he attributes to have stood in the way of enabling the roll out of activism in rural areas.
He points out that apart from administration; rural areas are marred with development inefficiencies inclusive of Poor services.
Omtata blames the problems experienced in rural areas to emanate from the top structures in government and believes that if the top is fixed, it goes without saying that ground work will play along.
He adds that there is need to incorporate Plans to engender new thinking in such neglected areas.
Poverty is a product of poor policies. There is need to address policy levels, he concludes.
Omtata recommends the need for Kenyans to go for a presidential candidate with a desire to leave a legacy, someone with the mentality of idealism and not leaders who are purely merchants.
He describes most leaders who have been in office since the Kenyatta era as those using their positions to trade, concerned with primitive accumulation of wealth and not leaving a legacy.
It is not ideal for Kenya to elect a president who will end up with the idea that “now that I am the 4th president of this country, I am going to be the 4th richest man.”
On activism, he says: “I don’t know if I do or don’t do a good job of it, but within my limitations and failings I try to do the best I can…I have succeeded in one way or the other in demanding justice.”
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