Despite investing their time in solving disputes, facilitating national government services like promotion of education and handling security issues through Nyumba Kumi initiative, among other duties, village elders across the country have been left in oblivion.
The push by West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo while in senate in 2014 to enlist the village elders on public pay roll through the National Government Coordination (Amendment) Bill, up to now has not yielded any fruits.
Lonyangapouo cited that having them on pay is long overdue, adding that village elders have been neglected despite their contribution to governance.
Speaking at Kamorrow Primary school where he unveiled more than 50 village elders from Psigirio Tartar areas of Mnagei Location and bought those uniforms also asked the government to issue the elders with attires for easy identification and recognition by members of public while executing their mandate in the villages especially when going after offenders.
He urged the national government to consider paying village elders a salary for conflict resolution and peace maintenance services at the grassroots.
The county boss noted that village elders assist the government in arbitrating family disputes, land boundary disputes and help apprehend petty offenders.
Prof Lonyangapuo said the government needs to pay the elders a token to motivate them to discharge their duties effectively and help in combating insecurity incidents in the area.
He also said there is a need to train the elders who are the first link between the government and citizens at the grassroots, on basic administrative skills to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in their work.
Governor Lonyangapuo emphasized that the elders have suffered for a long time without getting pay or allowances adding that the Government should help the elders to raise their living standards.
“They have contributed greatly to the prevailing peace and fighting insecurity. We laud the efforts done by the elders in maintaining peace and order in the area,” he said.
He appealed to the government to offer hardship allowances to village elders working in hardship areas.
“Many elders work in areas affected with issues of insecurity hence need to be rewarded. They should be empowered and motivate them to work and uplift their lives. We want Cabinet secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i to help village elders especially who have been working hard ,”he added
He said that the village elders will help the national and county Government administration policies by monitoring distribution of seeds, bulls, dairy cows, managing cattle dips and vetting bursary applicants.
“This should be replicated across the country. You will sleep well when village elders are okay .Other countries should come here for benchmarking, “he said.
He asked village elders to work hard and not to engage in politics hence called on MPs to push for the bill for elders who have done a lot in the village administration.
“They have been forgotten. No chief or assistant can work without the elders .They should be presentable. Matiang’i, the Government is being held by these elders .They have been on the frontline curbing insecurity and alcohol ,”he said.
.A village elder Mr Loriono Loriareng of Kangilikwan village said that are happy about the boost of the uniforms.
“We now need soap to wash our uniforms. President Uhuru Kenyatta should know that village elders are there. We solve land issues at the grassroots to the county. We walk long distance with the police,”he said
Mr Ben Momanyi, village elder Miti moja said that since independence they have never worn uniform. “They need to give us something small .We leave our important things to work for the Government free of charge,”he said.
Mr Jackson Lorwou from Kamorro B village said that the government should remember people on the ground who have been settling boundary issues.