"Building a 12-lane road and fly-overs is tribalistic. A good leader could have built a four lane road and use the remaining funds in putting up factories in Busia county which have none," said Cyrus Jirongo.
The Lugari MP is a controversial bloke who lorded over a shadowy organisation in the early '90s going by the innocuous name of Youth for KANU or YK 92 that seriously undermined Kenya's economy.
In his latest project, Jirongo has unwittingly displayed a streak that may very well dent his presidential ambitions in elections scheduled for March 2013. His caustic statement is widely thought to have besmirched the present leadership of the country. He also touched nerves by thoughtlessly opting to play the ethnic profiling card, by creating the impression that the Kikuyu community alone, in a country with 42 other ethnic groupings, were unilaterally going to be the beneficiaries of a Sh27 billion project, the Thika Super Highway Project.
His allegation that the Kibaki Government had ignored putting up road infrastructure in his ancestral Western region remains plainly sophism that gives the worst image possible of an individual with presidential aspirations. Ironically in recent times Jirongo has at times risen above parochialism when it would have been easier to play to the gallery.
For instance he accused the government ( read President Kibaki & Co) of sponsoring a motley of political parties. He said in a public baraza," We are aware that the government is sponsoring six political parties to field presidential candidates to divide communities with a large number of voters for their selfish gains." He then asked the laudable question that since he was married from three different communities including the Kikuyu, how would he deal with his children whom he had brought up to appreciate the ethnic diversity of the Kenyan people?
Why now the double-speak?
Does he appreciate that the Thika highway is now the country's most heavily trafficked road with 250,000 vehicles using it daily? These vehicles are not all owned or driven by individuals with ancestral origins within the Kikuyu nation, they are from persons from all over the country. This 42 road once complete will link Nairobi, East Africa's political and economic capital, to the border town of Moyale and then to Ethiopia. When the Kibaki Administration commissioned the construction of the highway in December 2009, professionals indicated that it would eventually be a link in the Great North Trans-African Highway linking Cape Town and Cairo, a priority of NEPAD's short-term action plan.
In addition in selecting Thika Road, the Kibaki Administration sought to open the Northern corridor because of the real possibility of importing oil through Lamu. Since March 2012 Lamu has been undergoing rapid economic change beginning March 2012 after the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan sanctioned an ambitious Sh2 billion ultra modern port to boost infrastructure within the region.
LAPSSET (Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor) will transform the lives of the people of all these three countries, irrespective of ethnicity and serve as a unifying factor amongst the three states. LAPSSET will also assist Kenya to tap into the oil reserves of the South Sudan with a pipeline stretching from Lamu to Juba.
Trade between Kenya and Ethiopia will increase following a signing of a $743 million deal in June 2011 for a construction of an 889km road linking Addis Ababa over the next three years. Kenya's Economic Survey 2010 shows that Kenya exported to Ethiopia goods worth $43.1 million while Kenya imported items worth $2.4 million. When LAPSSET is complete in 2015, Kenya and the region will be the beneficiaries. Presently, exports to Ethiopia account for 3 % of Kenya's Gross Domestic Product.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission, chaired by Dr. Mzalendo Kibunja, ought not to cut Jirongo any slack. If the commission rightly cracked down on three musicians from the Kikuyu community, they should also spread the net in the direction of Jirongo, and firm action should be seen to have been done.
However I totally concur with Jirongo that State House is involved in a plot to divide Kenyans along ethnic linage by covertly sponsoring political parties with leaders who command ethnic loyalties ahead of the national elections. Musalia Mudavadi, the Deputy Premier, has confirmed that before he ditched the Orange Democratic Party that took him to Parliament, he met President Kibaki himself.
And President Kibaki's Private Secretary Nick Wanjohi has been linked to the United Democratic Forum,the political vehicle chosen by Musalia, although he later denied it. It is popularly believed that the scheme is simply to snooker Prime Minister Raila Odinga's bid for the presidency. If President Kibaki wishes to leave a lasting legacy, he and his acolytes at the House on the Hill should avoid playing politics. Will he be remembered as a fox or a lion? The choice is his.
Peter Kuguru is the author of Trailblazer, an autobiography.