New Telegraph

The Wind Blowing From Nairobi

Whatever is happening in the East African nation of Kenya must be of interest to other leaders on the African continent whose major responsibility is to create an atmosphere of economic stability in a region still struggling to catch up with other developed climes.

Technology has reduced the world to a village and people are following developments with keen interest. While Western leaders with huge resources under their watch live according to legitimate earnings and mingle with their citizens, Africa is a place filled with plundering Heads of Government.

Due to greed and ineptitude, Africans bear the crushing effects of failed economies. Presidents and their sweet talking finance ministers’ resort to indiscriminate taxation and hikes in the prices of goods and services after going cap in hand begging for help from international finance institutions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are at their best when it comes to bailing out sinking economies. The two bodies end up as undertakers, sending more people into poverty and crisis. Kenya has been going through inflation since 2022, the year William Ruto assumed office as president.

In the bid to get his country back on track, he came up with what is generally known as the Finance Bill 2024 in June. The bill would have led to a hike in the price of essential items including food and sanitary towels due to the increase in taxes on such items. Kenya is not an oil producing nation, therefore, the people depend on imported fuel to power machines and cars.

Electricity tariff and transport fare would be above the earnings of already impoverished citizens. Like many legislators on the continent who are at the beck and call of the executive, the Kenyan parliament was quick in treating the bill for Ruto’s assent. Unfortunately, the lawmakers did not envisage the mayhem that would trail their action.

Their angry constituents took to the streets, in the nation’s capital, Nairobi, and marched to confront the parliamentarians who had approved the bill. The usual African disease was displayed when the police fired live bullets at the protesters, killing many.

And in a bizarre twist, the Cabinet Secretary of Defence, Adel Duale, invited the military to join the police in containing the protesters.

In a remarkable departure and public show of tension in the highest levels of the Kenyan government, Deputy President Geoffrey Gachagua, accused Duale of using an unconstitutional approach to create further bloodshed alleging that parliament was not consulted before soldiers were deployed

In other parts of Africa, people are following protests and taking notes. Over 200 persons have so far been reported killed including a journalist and medical doctor.This heavy handed approach has only further enraged the protesters

In other parts of Africa, people are following protests and taking notes. Over 200 persons have so far been reported killed including a journalist and medical doctor. This heavy handed approach has only further enraged the protesters who are not giving up and have now moved from battling the now suspended Finance Bill to ‘Ruto Must Go’. Ruto is Kalenjin and has his home in Eldoret.

There is no talk about tribe or tongue in this united national uprising. Kikuyu, Luo, Nandi, Maasai, Luhya and Agumba, are all unified in wanting the president out of office. They are all feeling the effects of poor government decisions on their lives. The protests are countrywide, from Nairobi to Kisumu in the West, the coastal town of Mombasa, Homa Bay and Migori. Ruto must be shocked. He has been around the corridors of power for over three decades.

A man who served as minister to three past presidents, won election as Deputy President, became Acting President before emerging as President must have something going for him. He has been through five political parties and served as a parliamentarian. Ruto came into office fully equipped, politically and academically. The Kenyan president holds a chain of degrees including a PhD. Behind the facade, Ruto is also a man of questionable means.

He has been fingered in land grabbing, corporate deals and was once in the books of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for electoral crimes that led to killings in 2007 during disputed elections. Events in Kenya should be studied by President Bola Tinubu. Nigerians are also going through very tough times. Things have reached unimaginable levels.

There is hunger in the land, there is anger. The security situation is still very dire as highlighted by the recent suicide bombings in Borno State. The Federal Government should do away with indiscriminate taxation that has weakened the purchasing power of hapless citizens.

Tinubu must take another look at the pump price of petroleum products since this is the major reason behind the spike in the cost of goods and services which is affecting millions of Nigerians adversely. The wind blowing from Nairobi is a clear signal that Nigeria might not be immune from its effects since breeze knows no boundaries and can be felt anywhere.

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