The Covid-19 and flooding crises offer the platform for leaders to step up

Flooding in Sitikho ward, Bungoma County after River Nzoia broke its banks

The COVID-19 pandemic, the raging floods and inevitably the economic starvation wrought by the twin disasters afflicting the majority of the residents of the Counties of the former Western Province of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga and neighbouring Trans Nzoia County present the appropriate ecosystem for the region to evaluate the stuff, the iron or lack of it that those who sought leadership in 2017 and were given the honour to lead are made of.

The twin disasters equally give the residents an opportunity to evaluate those who were not elected in 2017 and wish to be elected in 2022 to come forward and demonstrate their leadership capabilities. Let them not be cowed by the present elected leaders choruses that COVID-19 and the floods should not be used for political ends or expediency. That is nonsensical. It is in disasters that we have the perfect environment to separate the boys form men or the girls from women.

Is it really permissible that 57 years since independence we are helpless in the face of floods? Was it not during the Mwai Kibaki Presidency that construction of Dams were proposed in the region in Tongaren Constituency and downstream the River Nzoia and elected leaders, many still serving were on the frontline to oppose the projects that had been given budgetary allocations? How come seven years after the introduction of devolved governments none of them have a clue, a project dedicated to disaster mitigation like COVID-19 and the raging floods. How can we continue to be steeped in a peasant worldview, economic structure of living hand to mouth 57 years after we gloriously as a nation declared ourselves independent and able to manage our own affairs.

Political short-termism, myopia, parochialism, naivety, stupidity continues to be our “modus operandi”, operating system and therefore we cannot look at the future, set visions of transformation and relentlessly pursue the rainbow of their  success.

Let those who want to lead and transform our region step forward with masterplans that are clear, vivid, simple, attainable and sell them to our people so that the next set of disasters do not find the region exposed, naked, helpless and has to beg, seek solutions from yonder, far away. We are as a region blessed with good weather and fertile soils and  a resilient people who with the right leadership ought never to beg for help in disaster and indeed can extend a helping hand to those regions of Kenya that are less endowed.

The Achilles Heel of our region remains stupid leadership. These crises offer the perfect crucible for forging the leadership that ought and must lift us out of the shambles of poverty, disease, ignorance that suffocate us.