Opinion

Rise to the occasion, Katoo: Withdraw your electoral contest

OPINION

By a twist of fate, the former Kajiado South MP has found himself in a more powerful position than the gubernatorial seat he fought for and lost

JONATHAN TEIKAN

The appointment of politician Katoo ole Metito to the powerful position of Comptroller of State House is a welcome move. Indeed, Kajiado County could not have asked for a better position for its son — one that is right at the seat of power.

For this, I offer my hearty congratulations to the former Kajiado South MP. By a twist of fate, he has found himself in a more powerful position than the gubernatorial seat he fought for and lost. Arguably and looking at the history of Kenya, a Comptroller of State House is even more powerful than many Cabinet Secretaries. Katoo has landed in a good place.

Of course, he remains our son and acutely aware of the political and socio-economic challenges we face in Kajiado. The opulence at State House should on a daily basis remind him of the contrast in which a majority of those he has left behind live. Today, the situation has been made even worse by a ravaging and unforgiving drought that threatens to send the people into extreme poverty and destitution.

With Katoo now having the president’s ear on a daily basis — and unquestionable access to the movers and shakers who frequent the corridors of power — he is in a good position to do a lot to  change the lives of people at the grassroots.

We do not deceive ourselves into thinking that he can give us all the funding we would love to have, or suddenly have all our roads tarmacked and farms irrigated. But he can make a difference, one step at a time. He can influence the allocation of resources to reflect our priorities that he knows only too well. He can ensure our children don’t drop out of school. He can ensure we have sufficient doctors and facilities in our health institutions. He can ask that enough teachers be posted to our schools, and that these be equipped with modern facilities.

Katoo cannot however do these things alone. He will need to coordinate with grassroots elected and other influential leaders. He will require the constant goodwill of all who hold various positions, including the county government and local administrators. He will need to give an ear to religious leaders, women leaders, and other local players who know the changing needs of the people.

That sort of goodwill is impossible to cultivate in a situation of political conflict and unending shenanigans. For us to make the best of all available resources at our disposal as a county, it is critical to have a united front, especially from leaders. That, in turn, necessitates that we move away quickly from the divisiveness of the just-concluded General Election. Court cases need to be resolved quickly, and where necessary by-elections to be held, so that the people can move ahead and embrace the development agenda in unity.

But there is one big problem — and now a solution is possible. The key judicial contest in the county is expected to be for the governor’s position, in which the Katoo is seeking the nullification of Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s victory. But now that President William Ruto has elevated Katoo to an even more powerful position, what would be the wisdom of proceeding with a court contest on the gubernatorial seat?

Even if the governor’s election were to be nullified, it is highly unlikely that Katoo would leave the high table at State House to contest the subsequent by-election. Plus, that would be a gamble since he could still lose yet again; would that be worth a resignation from his lofty position? There is also the distinct alternative is that he could decide not to contest but rather to back a different candidate against Lenku, but to what end?

Lenku is on his last term and not eligible for re-election. If both Katoo and Lenku can put behind them their differences for the next few years, Kajiado County will be the better for it. This is why I am imploring the new Comptroller of State House to have the magnanimity to withdraw his electoral challenge.

Jonathan is an Assistant Managing Editor of the Kajiado Star publication.

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