Uhuru, Please Fence The Somalia Border

Opinion

by Kinoti Gatobu

I’m sorry this letter has been published in the press before it lands on your desk. However, as millions of Kenyans trust you to lead this beloved nation, so you should trust them to read a letter addressed to you. It is my prayer that this letter to you, and copied to one of Kenya’s longest-serving leaders, Raila Odinga, will be a key step in making Kenya an even greater nation.

Since you were sworn in as President there has been talk that you are one of the most inaccessible leaders we have, but experience has taught me otherwise. A few weeks ago you invited MPs to State House and it was on that day that I invited you to my June 7 wedding in Buuri. You showed up!You have listened to me a number of times, please listen to the issues I am raising in this letter.

As a young leader, I greatly admire the leaders who went before me. However, my concern is that if things continue the way they seem to be going, we as young leaders may not be there to serve this nation or, even worse, there may be no nation to be served.

The events of the past month illustrate this clearly. After the wedding, my wife and I decided to heed your call to promote local tourism. Therefore, we  honeymooned in the North Coast, only to escape narrowly as the Mpeketoni attacks occurred very close to our hotel. We terminated our honeymoon and headed back to Meru. A few days later, our neighbour, a doctor at Meru Hospital, was shot dead in broad daylight a few metres from our gate. A few days earlier, the woman who  provided tents for our wedding was attacked at her gate and her driver seriously injured. A few days ago, a young man was shot dead at the school where my mother teaches. No one knows who is next.

As MP I have had the opportunity to visit several countries. I humbly request you accept one of the key ideas I have picked from my foreign travels.

Due to the threat of drugs and other dangers from Mexico, the United States has fenced its boundary with the country. So have many others that feel neighbouring countries pose a danger to them, for example Israel and South Africa. I kindly request we fence the Kenya-Somalia border, complete with a series of surveillance cameras that are able to detect even an attempt to cross underground through a tunnel. It may cost much but I feel this could be a long-term solution. We suspect that the many illegal firearms in Meru and other parts of Kenya have come from Somalia. As long as people move across the Kenya-Somalia border without limitations, then insecurity will continue to be a problem.

But weapons need users, and these are the unemployed youths in Kenya. Therefore, my second proposal concerns my fellow youth. We appreciate initiatives such as the Uwezo Fund, 30 per cent procurement reserve and the Youth Fund. However, some people are comfortable being employees. They are hardworking, intelligent, well-educated and determined, but not ready to take up the burden of starting a business. They want to get a rewarding job and grow their careers.

To respond to this problem, I have drafted the Strategic Youth Industries Bill 2014. The bill seeks to have the government commit just 0.1 per cent of the nation’s annual budget to set up industries that will provide employment. The 0.1 percentage is just the starting figure. If the industries prove to be successful, Parliament can adjust it upwards. This, I believe, will be the best solution for unemployment. The government has some of the best minds and the strongest resource muscle, hence we cannot wholly leave the unemployment problem to be solved by the private sector.

The bill gives the government the responsibility, through the Strategic Youth Industries Board, to establish and manage industries that will provide employment opportunities to young Kenyans. The bill goes further to ensure that these industries will not only be employment centres but will also be profitable and sustainable and will therefore play a key role in economic growth. Mr President, please support the bill.

As I noted earlier, it concerns me that that as political leaders continue to pull in opposite directions, our nation may be end up being seriously divided. Please grant my third and last request: To help resolve some of the issues being raised, especially by Cord, I request a sitting between you, Raila, me and other leaders. The Biblical David, who despite being just a shepherd boy, was given the opportunity by Saul to go fight Goliath. Similarly, I may be a young inexperienced leader, but I believe there is something I can offer in rescuing this nation.

Kinoti Gatobu is a Kenyan politician who was elected as a member of the Kenyan Parliament in the 2013 parliamentary elections. At 26, he is the youngest member of Kenya's 11th Parliament.

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