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Saturday, January 12th, 2019


End reckless, divisive succession politics

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The first two weeks of the year have been extremely charged politically. Yet this is not an election year. Elections are more than three years away. But the political class have created a poisonous environment. At the centre is the succession struggle as President Uhuru Kenyatta walks the last mile of his term.

Ironically, the tussle over succession is playing within the ruling party, Jubilee. Ordinarily, Jubilee would be consolidating itself and working in unison to deliver on the pledges they made before the elections of 2017. But that is not the case. Division runs deep in the party, with various camps forming either in support of, or opposition, to the ambitions of Deputy President William Ruto, who has been traversing the country to popularise himself in readiness for the elections slated for 2022.

In between is the contention over the camaraderie between President Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga, who made peace and consummated it with a handshake last March. Largely, that was a masterstroke that calmed down political tensions after the rancorous elections and allowed the country to focus on what matters. Even so, critics view it as a scheme calculated to rock the Jubilee boat and thwart Dr Ruto’s plan to ascend to the presidency.

Whichever the argument, the high-octane political mobilising is misplaced. Already, it is stoking embers of ethnic rivalry and, left unchecked, is likely to snowball into social and political calamity.


At the beginning of the year, as now, the government is expected to spell out its agenda or better still give a breakdown of activities to be carried to realise its development plan. Last year, the Jubilee administration outlined four items that it seeks to implement in the next three years. These are food security, universal healthcare, affordable housing and manufacturing. Concomitant to that, there are milestones to guide the execution and which ought to be worked out annually.

Outside the four agenda items, there are critical issues of the day and which have far-reaching impact. Among these is the roll-out of a new education curriculum, itself mired in controversy, and which requires unified attention and energy. Fight against corruption remains a vexed matter. Stagnating economy and related debt burden are worrisome. Unemployment and insecurity persists while infrastructure development has slowed down.

Put together, there are urgent and compelling issues that require resolution but that cannot happen in a poisoned political environment. The endless haggles over succession are irrelevant. Kenyans want service not meaningless and poisonous political noise.

Manage schools efficiently

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The extension of the Form One reporting date to next Friday, provides an opportunity for the Education ministry and the secondary schools to tie up any loose ends, and to the parents and guardians to strive and meet their obligations. For the ministry, hopefully, the challenges from the maiden digital selection system have been fully addressed as the grumbling that greeted the start of the process has somewhat died down.

Coming just after the festive season during which many of the parents will have overspent on their revelry, the opening of schools is always a financially agonising moment.

But come Friday, as the schools put final touches to preparations for the First Term, the focus now naturally turns to the men and women who have been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after these young people. We are, of course, talking about the school principals, who are oftentimes expected to literally produce some magic. It’s a pity that many of them feel abandoned by the ministry and their own employer, the Teachers Service Commission.

The schools are not only congested but many are also short of food and the required facilities, including classrooms, dormitories and laboratories. But in a clearly populist, but unrealistic move, the ministry insists the student fee guidelines capped at Sh53,000 annually must be strictly adhered to. However, an analysis of this ceiling confirms that it’s untenable and needs to be reviewed.

As we have stated time and again, the Education authorities must not expect school heads to perform miracles. They should get more involved to ease the burden on the head teachers by regularly reviewing school needs and ensuring the provision of additional resources. It’s unfair to try and shield the parents from fully shouldering the burden of paying for their children’s upkeep in the institutions. An alternative is to explore other avenues for raising additional funds for schools. Starting income generation projects is also an option, but these ventures call for greater involvement by parents’ associations. Needed are realistic measures for the schools to run smoothly.

Kenyan link in DRC's Tshisekedi presidential election victory

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On the evening of November 22, 2018 media houses were invited to a press conference to be addressed by Felix Tshisekedi, the recently declared winner of Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections.

The press conference was to be held at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel and it is at that event that he declared his candidature in last month’s presidential election.

Days earlier, Mr Tshisekedi had bolted out of an opposition alliance that had selected Martin Fayulu as the sole opposition flag-bearer in Brussels, Belgium.

It was in Nairobi that Tshisekedi announced that he had selected another opposition leader Vital Kamerhe of Union for the Congolese Nation as his running mate.


Last week, the country’s election commission CENi (Independent National Electoral Commission) announced that Mr Tshisekedi had won the presidential vote.

He reportedly beat the pre-election favourite, Mr Fayulu by 38 per cent of the total votes cast against the latter’s 34 per cent. Fuyulu has already challenged the elections outcome in court.

Should Mr Tshisekedi, son of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi be installed as DRC’s next president, the relations between Kinshasa and Nairobi are bound to change a great deal.

Outgoing President Joseph Kabila had long accused Kenya of being the conduit for stolen minerals from his country. Indeed, in 2011, he flew to Nairobi and met then President Mwai Kibaki over reports that some gold had been stolen gold from his country.

A Tshisekedi presidency is likely to see warm relations between the two countries especially because of his close links with opposition leader Raila Odinga.


When he announced his presidential bid in Nairobi, it was Dennis Onyango, Mr Odinga’s spokesman, who worked round the clock to ensure the media covered the story.

After the press conference, Mr Tshisekedi met Mr Odinga for private talks and, sources indicated, the two held further private meeting with a senior government official at the instigation of the ODM leader. Around the same time, Mr Onyango wrote an opinion piece discussing the Congo elections.

Relations between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta have greatly improved and this may translate to Kenya benefiting from Congo’s vast mineral wealth.

Kenya has been aiming to make Nairobi a mineral trade hub in line with the Mining Act, 2016 and Congo having one of the largest minerals reserves a warm relationship between the two countries cannot come at a better time.

Murathe's assault on DP opens a nasty can of worms in Jubilee

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It was Chinua Achebe who once wrote that when you see a toad jumping up and down in full daylight, it is not for nothing. Former Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe’s onslaught against Deputy President William Ruto, seemingly out of the blue, has roiled the political waters across the country like never before, and may very well determine Jubilee’s future.

Murathe’s vow to take his crusade all the way to the Supreme Court means the battle has just begun. The point he says he wants the Court to determine about Ruto’s eligibility to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta come 2022 may be legally dubious, at best. However, what is unfolding is a political war, not a legal one.


The rush of political formations taking sides, on one hand the pro-Uhuru forces and on the other the pro-Ruto groups, has blown open the deep cracks in what was always an artificial and brittle Jubilee coalition. What was Murathe up to?

There is an argument in circulation that Murathe’s mission from the start was to set in motion the deliberate destruction of Jubilee in order to free its main original partner, the TNA, for new alliances. Going by this view, the present coalition has outlived its usefulness and that the Uhuru side is gearing up for a fresh alliance with Raila Odinga’s ODM.

Last week gave a good glimpse of how the war is shaping up, and who is siding with whom. A group of governors from Central Kenya trooped for a press conference ostensibly to denounce Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria on his sideshow drama about Uhuru’s “poor development” record. But a bigger point they were making was that Uhuru needed everybody’s support in his so-called Building Bridges Initiative, which was borne out of the “Handshake” with Raila.

In short order, a bipartisan team of women leaders, led jointly by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and ODM’s Women Representative for Homa Bay Gladys Wanga joined the fray, warning against premature politicking — a clear dig at the pro-Ruto “Tanga Tanga” movement and its ill-disguised campaigns. The women wore brand new T-shirts emblazoned with the word ‘Embrace,’ evidently in support of the “Handshake.”


Coincidentally, another group of women activists, seemingly taking the cue from Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, entered the scene, provocatively sporting their own T-shirts with the words “Team Washenzi.” Ngunjiri had previously made incendiary remarks against Uhuru and his “Handshake” arrangement with Raila, which prompted an angry retort from the President directed at Ngunjiri and Kuria — and seemingly the whole Tanga Tanga brigade — calling them “washenzi”. The atmosphere was getting so heated that there were reported murmurs from the pro-Ruto side of impeaching the President. It was probably just bluster, but it showed the extent things were fast breaking down in Jubilee.

There was a widespread feeling, nonetheless, that Murathe’s bare-knuckle assault was inadvertently gaining Ruto sympathy in parts of the country. There is no question of underestimating the DP at this stage; those doing so could be making a mistake.

His Tanga Tanga movement has taken him to nearly every nook and cranny of the country. He has made solid ground with his frequent forays to the Coast. He also commands strong support in North-Eastern. Western is up for grabs, with one side for Ruto while another — coalescing around Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani party — has come out in support of Uhuru and the “Handshake.”

Tanga Tanga pointmen in Central Kenya will face an uphill task if Uhuru decides to go ‘mano a mano’ against them. Kuria’s profuse apologies after he came under sustained attacks were an indicator that the President has his clout intact in his home base.

There is also no question that local Tanga Tanga adherents like Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua can withstand a fight with Uhuru in his own backyard. As for Ngunjiri, he is betting that his non-Kalenjin constituents in the Rift Valley will stand up against the sabre-rattling against Ruto coming from certain leaders in Central Kenya. Among the responses to the Bahati MP was that “political blackmail” would no longer be tolerated — an allusion to the loaded hints about a possible re-igniting of the 2007/8 clashes.

When he held a pre-New Year media round-table in Mombasa, Uhuru stressed three things. One was seeing that 2022 politics were toned down. The second was to see to fruition the Building Bridges Initiative. The third was to see the anti-corruption war was won. Reading between the lines, there was little of the Tanga Tanga agenda contained in his remarks. It was also noted across the board that he did not expressly rebuke his ally Murathe.

As for Ruto’s main rival in the Rift Valley, one Senator Gideon Moi, he has been studiously silent so far. However, his frequent warnings to the Tanga Tanga crowd come to mind: “There are those who took to the dance floor long before the real dance had begun.”

Voters must wake up to reality that they are all on their own

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Some people say hope is a prison, but compared to the prison of despair, maybe hope is a better prison after all. For the most part, Kenyans are a hopeful lot, and as 2019 sets forth — despite the difficulties associated with January — one gets a sense that there still abounds the ever present belief that things will get better, somehow.

That is until our politicians open their mouths, soiling the national mood and reminding us all that we’re still stuck in the political abyss of eternal campaigns. For them, nothing is more urgent than self-preservation, partly characterised by their jostling to succeed each other — never mind it being a whole four years before the next General Election. It is nauseating, to say the least, to imagine that this will be the country’s default position for the next many months, leaving one wondering where they can run and hide in a bid to preserve their sanity.


Of course everyone is entitled to pursue his or her political ambition, but at what cost? The politics of seeking power by-all-means-necessary — in Kenya’s present scenario bombarding the country with nonstop political campaigns — raises the critical question as to whether the country can afford to sustain such, and for how long. On one hand, leading figures within government have embarked on early campaigns disguised as disbursement of development projects. On the other hand, their opposition counterparts are hiding behind the preaching national unity veil, readying themselves for what’s promising to be the mother of all political duels.

This state of paralysis — of being eternally quarantined in an electioneering spot — prompts one to wonder what the national mood would be were the political class to be muted for a minute, allowing the country to introspect, to think through its more pressing needs and concerns.

Let’s examine the sort of politics that’s ushering in 2019.


In his characteristic rubble-rousing way, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria grabbed national headlines through sensational pronouncements on New Year’s Eve, ruffling feathers in some quarters by asking Central Kenya voters to think, claiming that for the last many elections, residents of the region have been urged to vote en masse for presidential candidates from the area, which they do, after which development projects are gifted to other parts of the country.

Kuria has earned a reputation for saying in public what many like him may be saying in private, betraying what some of his Central Kenya colleagues may be murmuring about behind closed doors.

In the last quarter of 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta read the riot act to Central Kenya MPs during a meeting in Nyeri, haranguing them against their claim that the region had stood by the President yet the Head of State was not reciprocating in terms of handing goodies to the region as was being perceived to be the case in the rest of the country — what with the Deputy President being on a nonstop launching spree — whether the projects are real or imaginary.

It must be said that this is a primitive politics to start the year with — the politics of regionalism and development as a reward for loyalty — yet here we are. It is a politics which takes us decades back, where we have to define the role of the President, and whether he or his government personally owe regions or individuals a debt of development away from what is prescribed in government policy, which should be informed by principles of fairness, equity and equality.


In the traditional Kenyan assertion of it is our turn to eat, Kuria’s lamentations hold water. But as we reimagine a new Kenya — where the President should not make policy decisions informed by who voted for him and who didn’t, and where devolution, among other interventions, is meant to ensure fairness, equity and equality — the politics of our man at the top has no place.

Kuria’s politics of development as a political reward may be supported by the widely criticised actions of the Deputy President — where every other day he is in one or another part of the country gifting regions with development — making the point that this may be a good time for the President’s principal assistant to re-evaluate his modus operandi, in being aware that as he moves around peddling projects, some regions — mostly those he isn’t keen to seduce as regards 2022 — may feel marginalised by the State.

As Kenyans wallow in the prison of hope — that a better politics will sprout out of the prevailing chaos — they must put meaning into their optimism by taking up Kuria’s challenge to think seriously before the next election, but not do so in Kuria’s terms. Kuria, after all, is part and parcel of the existing political paradigm, which he has now fallen victim to.

As Steve Biko famously remarked, ‘‘Black man, you are on your own.’’ Kenyan voters must similarly wake up to the reality that no matter what today’s politicians say, they too are on their own.

How one fatal email response cost hapless couple all their life savings

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When Jerry Tack received an email saying his TV licence was due for renewal, he entered his bank details. Two days later, he received a call, apparently from Nationwide, his building society, advising him to move his money into a “safe account.”

Fatally, he did so. Fatally, because the caller was not Nationwide but a scammer who proceeded to empty two savings accounts belonging to Mr Tack and his wife Carol containing £4,000 each, plus £1,900 from a current account.

“We were left penniless, our life savings gone,” said Carol.

Nationwide said their funds could not be reimbursed because Jerry had authorised the payments despite warnings not to share security information.

TV Licensing, which runs the business of issuing licences for television sets, said, “We will never email customers to ask for bank details or personal information or tell you that you are entitled to a refund.”

Thousands are believed to have fallen victim to what the police called a “particularly nasty” fraud.

Laura Hodson, 27, received an email saying the payment details for her TV licence needed to be updated. Since the licence was due for renewal, she assumed this was normal.

Twenty-four hours later, she received a “gut-wrenching” call from the Royal Bank of Scotland saying that more than £2,500 had been taken from her account.

The payment was traced to a Barclays Bank account and after about a month of wrangling, Laura was told that only £2.21 could be recovered.

Laura, a nurse from Dumfries, Scotland, said the theft left her and her partner, Scott, relying on financial support of relatives.

“This was all taken away by a single email,” she said.

In 2016, millionaire Richard Mason was told he had the genetic lung disorder, cystic fibrosis, which among other things stops male sufferers from having children.

Mason protested that the diagnosis must be wrong because he had fathered twins, by then aged 19, and an older boy of 23. He said: “The consultant just told me I should have a conversation with my wife.”

By then, the former Kate Mason was his ex-wife, the pair having divorced in 2008.

Mason sued Kate and last week she agreed to hand back £250,000 of the £4 million she received as a divorce settlement, which included cash for private school fees.

Two of the three boys gave DNA samples which proved Mason was not their father but the older one refused. Mason still does not know the name of the boys’ father or fathers.

Mason married again but his lung capacity has been sharply reduced and he expects that eventually he will need an oxygen tank to breathe.

His ex-wife, who has a new partner, refused to comment.

Suppose you were to win big on the national lottery, what is the first thing you would do? Buy a luxury automobile or a multi-bedroom house, or both? Sign on for a cruise to the South Seas? Get drunk?

When Frances and Patrick Connolly won £115 million on the UK Euro Millions draw, the first thing they did was to make a list of 50 people with whom they would share the money.

Frances, aged 52, from Moira in Northern Ireland, said, “This is a massive sum of money and we want it to have a huge impact on the lives of other people we know and love.”

She said it would be shared among family friends and charitable causes.

Patrick Connolly said, “Money doesn’t bring you happiness. We already had happiness and were very blessed in life. I’ve got a wonderful wife, a wonderful family and wonderful friends, so this is the icing on the cake.”

As I mentioned last week, the New Year prompts a lot of unwelcome introspection about the course of life. Here’s how to know you’re getting older:

Your children begin to look middle-aged; your favourite part of the newspaper is “What Happened 25 Years Ago Today;” you stop looking forward to your birthday; a dripping tap causes unbearable pressure on the bladder; you regret all those temptations you resisted; you pretend you haven’t heard when your grandchildren offer to teach you about computers; the little old grey-haired lady you help across the road is your wife; you sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there; you begin to wonder if your house is haunted because every time you look in the mirror a crazy old man appears.

How dull life would be without a lawyer joke or two. So here are three: What did the lawyer name his daughter? Sue.

A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.

In the interrogation room, a man says, “I’m not saying a word without my lawyer present.” Says the policeman, “You are the lawyer.” “Exactly,” says the man, “so where is my present?”

Doctor’s fee: Let’s stop misleading Kenyans

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Over the past few weeks there has been a clamour for the reduction of the fees charged by doctors in private practice. An argument has been made that the fees charged by private doctors in their private facilities had something to do with the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) push by government.

It was argued that reducing the ‘exorbitant’ rates would somehow help achieve UHC in this country, and a few brilliant fellows came up with the argument that since the government ‘cannot achieve UHC using public facilities alone’, it was necessary to involve the private sector, hence the need to control the rates charged by private practitioners in support of UHC.


This disingenuous argument only creates confusion in the public mind, and it is important to clear up the confusion once and for all, and help direct the conversation where it ought to be. Firstly, everybody is agreed that UHC will only be achieved if it is public-led and tax-funded, and focused primarily on improving public health facilities in order to ensure that all Kenyans have access to life-saving services without being impoverished. The implication here is that we must invest in the public health sector, and only involve the private sector when the capacity in the public sector is either overwhelmed or inadequate. We can, however, not predicate our entire public health policy on the private sector, as is being done at the moment.

Secondly, in the event private health services are required to support UHC, it is clear that such services will not be accessed by coercion, but through a process of negotiation as has been the case. Whatever the professional fee ceilings may be set by the Board, the government will have to approach private health providers and negotiate cost-effective rates. It follows therefore that reducing the upper limits of the private practitioners’ charges will not change the need for government to negotiate favourable rates. Neither will it change the need for the provider to voluntarily agree to provide the services at whatever rate is set for them.

For instance, even if the government decides that a private practitioner will charge a maximum of one thousand shillings per consultation, there is nothing in law that compels the practitioner to leave her house and go to her clinic to see patients under this arrangement.


Being a private agent, her freedom to choose how and where to earn a living cannot be limited by fiat. On the other hand, even if the maximum consultation fees are set at Sh10,000, nothing stops the government from negotiating with willing providers to charge a thousand shillings per consultation for patients under the UHC programme.

As things stand today, private doctors charge fees mostly within limits set by the regulator, with a significant majority charging for most of their procedures well below the non-binding minimums set by the Medical Board. Lowering the maximum chargeable fees will therefore have absolutely no effect on the fees charged by most private doctors, and may even have the unintended effect of causing many to raise their fees nearer the new maximum.

Thankfully, many leaders have seen the light and are now shifting the discussion more usefully towards improving public health services and addressing the total cost of healthcare to the government and other payers. And this is as it should be.

Atwoli is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dean, Moi University School of Medicine; [email protected]

Moses Kuria’s haters betray intolerance

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For a man given to political bravado, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria cut a remarkably subdued figure at his press conference last Thursday.

Where we expected a brave guerrilla leader emerging to announce the capture of yet another key region by his triumphant Tanga Tanga army, we instead saw a defeated, disarmed and apologetic rebel soldier down on his knees, pleading for mercy from government forces.

The lieutenants, who often flank MK, as the sharp-tongued Gatundu South legislator is fondly referred to by his fans, at public events were conspicuously absent.


Journalists who went to cover the news conference where an online story had earlier suggested Mr Kuria would be announcing his resignation as MP recall having only spotted him in the company of Cornelius Serem, the Aldai MP and an ally of the Deputy President, moments before he sat down to read his press statement.

The full story of how one of Kenya’s foremost political attack dogs shed his teeth just within days of picking a fight with his master and dishing it out on social media will no doubt come out one day.

If and when the story is finally told, it will most likely open with a line in Mr Kuria’s Thursday press statement alluding to some ‘subtle and not-so subtle threats’ to his life. But it is not just the criminal nature of the threats to the Gatundu South MP’s life that should concern us.

They also betray the kind of political intolerance that is associated with the dark Nyayo Era when anyone who dared to express an opinion perceived to be anti-establishment would be silenced. The Handshake, it would seem, is the new Nyayo.

The vicious backlash against a group of Jubilee MPs from central Kenya who see the political deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga aka the Handshake as a ploy to frustrate Deputy President William Ruto’s chances of succeeding Mr Kenyatta harks back to the well-orchestrated Kanu campaigns to stigmatise party dissent in the 1980s and 1990s.


From governors to Kikuyu Council of Elders, no one who considers himself or herself a leader in the region wanted to miss out on the opportunity to publicly declare loyalty to the President and support for the Handshake. Mr Kuria, of course, found it important to emphasise in his statement that he, too, supports the Handshake.

But even if he didn’t, it would be simply out of place for anyone to want to harm him for it well into the third decade of the return of multiparty democracy.

Amid the tense moments caused by politicians fighting over the Handshake, some Kenyans still didn’t lose their sense of humour and served up quite some wisecracks on social media.

The Facebook exchange between these two, particularly cracked me up: Wainaina Wa Wambui: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is the most useless president in Kenya’s history!

Ochieng Otieno: Respect our president.

We’ll only grow if youth council is strengthened

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The idea of forming a National Youth Council (NYC) six years ago was a noble one. Unfortunately, the institution has largely remained ineffective in spite of its roles being clearly spelt out and well anchored in the National Youth Council Act 2009.

The delay and uncertainty of electing new NYC board members and executive at the national level have left the institution almost dysfunctional. Most of the NYC members have transitioned and are no longer youth, leaving the institution without the steam and strategy despite its broad mandate. The drafters of the law intended to create formal mechanisms and structures to remedy lack of proper engagement, which youth blames for their low participation in all the national matters. It was envisaged that by strengthening the administration of youth programmes through meaningful participation at all levels, strong youth-focused policies would finally be channelled out.


And since the national and county governments have failed to create other strong structured forums that can empower the youth, it is inevitable the NYC must be strengthened to create a safety valve that will see more youth get representation in all spheres including governance.

A revitalised NYC will also give the youth an opportunity to meaningfully influence their participation in the economic development. The Jubilee government, earlier this year, spelt out its four development agenda- affordable healthcare, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security that are expected to transform the society.

But going by the recent years when the country recorded a significant economic growth and the youth still laments of high unemployment level, there is need to have a new dialogue as the government rolls out the four pillars. Kenya’s economic growth has over the years failed to factor its impact on social-economic issues such as how to address unemployment among the youth.

The proponent of the NYC expected a well-operationalised body that could mobilise youth from sub-county, county to the national level to address many youth problems. This was meant to guarantee the participation of ordinary folks from all over the country, including regions that have over the years felt left out on national issues.

Without such a structured mechanism, youth will not be able to participate in a meaningful way in the ongoing development agenda. The government has in the past created many initiatives to empower youth.


That is laudable. But these programmes have not yielded the expected results making it imperative to have a body such as the NYC to help articulate debate and shape the narrative of how to mainstream the youth agenda in the country’s development.

As we seek to have a transparent and fairly elected NYC officials, there is also strong persuasion to make the NYC more inclusive and integrate all youth networks under its umbrella. The previous election campaigns for various positions were intense, requiring one to have immense financial resources to secure a position; a move that unintentionally eliminated leaders with good credentials from taking leadership mantle.

Going forward, there is need to review the NYC Constitution and its workings to smoothen elections, promote inclusiveness and broaden its mandate as stipulated in National Youth Council Act 2009 as well as enhance the funding of the institution among other things.

Mr Obonyo is the author of ‘Conversations About the Youth in Kenya’. Email; [email protected]

Three dead, dozens injured as suspected gas leak triggers blast in central Paris

A fire and a suspected gas leak triggered a powerful explosion inside a bakery in downtown Paris. Three people have lost their lives and dozens more were injured.

The explosion was apparently so powerful that it was felt from a distance of 100 meters, smashing windows and damaging cars.

According to, two firefighters have died dealing with the incident that occurred on Rue de Trevise in central Paris, the city prosecutor has said. Spanish authorities confirmed that a third victim was their citizen.

Apart from the dead, the tragedy also left over 30 people wounded, including 15 who suffered serious injuries.

One witness visiting the city described being woken up after the building her family was staying in started to shake.

“Everyone looked out their windows and a lot of window panes had been smashed,” she told Ruptly news agency.