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Mr President, please serve us more than just sweet words

GABRIEL OGUDABy GABRIEL OGUDA
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This past week President Uhuru Kenyatta finally stepped out of his comfort and mesmerised us with his brilliance at a time when Kenyans were getting increasingly worried that he was spending more time building his tailor than the nation.

We are relieved he finally found airtime to call his economic advisers to justify why they should keep eating public money.

For a long time, we didn’t know we had a president who could play like Messi when he wanted to.

Someone should tell State House that we have forgiven him for deactivating his Twitter account, coming late for press conferences, and chasing night-runners out of business.

Before the president issued his speech on Wednesday, Kenyans had been counting down to the depletion of food stocks, and eventual death by waiting for help.

The coronavirus has made the government address Kenyans every day even when we still haven’t recorded any deaths yet – a feat that leaves malaria green with envy, even when it should be thankful to humanity for sparing its life.

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NEW NORMAL

We welcome this new normal, and hope this fresh energy the government has taken up to fight this pandemic doesn’t start with Mutahi Kagwe, or end with coronavirus itself.

Kenyans have suffered for seven years under the Jubilee government; we won’t mind if the next three came with clean water to wash away our tears.

This is why there is a need to safeguard the little progress the government has made towards accountable leadership and a governance that is close to good.

While the president hasn’t been taking questions at his last two press briefings, he has worked on his touch with the pressing issues facing the ordinary Kenyan. He gets an ‘A’ for effort on this.

However, effort alone is not enough to allay the collective fears Kenyans have towards this pandemic that is threatening to teach us a lesson on disaster preparedness, and of working from home.

If we die and go to hell, we will remind the gatekeepers that we have been seconded by Kenya, where we hold the record for drinking from cups of empty promises and surviving on God’s will.

PUBLIC TRUST

The same God that kept us from dying early cannot now turn his back on us. If hell is real, then there is still no scientific evidence to prove the presence of Kenyan life in there.

This government is used to rubbing our lips with honey and taking away the whole jar when we are about to settle down for the real feast.

We have seen enough to warn us against getting excited over sweet words because we have become accustomed to the lack of substance that follows thereafter.

It is not lost on us that this is the same government that promised us heaven, only for Kenyans to realise God wasn’t aware of this promise and He wouldn’t commit to opening the gates.

A government that can say anything to gain favour with the electorate is not one you can trust with your hand sanitiser during these times of Covid-19.

FAKE PLEDGES

We still remember their promise to build five state-of-the-art stadiums, which later graduated to 11. Seven years down the line not even a blade of grass has been procured.

The Free Secondary Education, which was supposed to be their flagship project, is still being implemented in droplets.

Children who were promised laptops in Class One will be doing their final exams next year after seeing laptops only on television.

Kenyans cheered when they were told the new Standard Gauge Railway locomotives would be electric; then they saw the first diesel engines offloaded at the port and a part of them died with those grainy pictures.

If false advertising hasn’t killed the Jubilee government, there are no indications that the coronavirus will.

While the president’s speech last Wednesday was laudable, he, however, did not speak about the massive job losses that have occurred due to business shutdowns.

PRESSING CONCERNS

You cannot talk about Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax to a population who closed businesses and ran back to the village to start life afresh because they could not afford to pay rent or argue with their landlords.

We expected the president to speak to landlords and remind them to sing the national anthem each time they think of evicting tenants.

Kenyans aren’t asking to live for free for this period, but if the coronavirus is the freedom we have been waiting for, then who are we to tell God to keep His philanthropy?

We are asking not to be serenaded with empty promises if you don’t mean it, because had sweet words been effective in eradicating hunger, Deputy President William Ruto would now be the United Nations secretary-general.