Opinion

No need for another dialogue, just apply Constitution

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024 01:30 | By
Opposition leader Raila Odinga speaking on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 at KICC after President William Ruto assented the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 into law. PHOTO/@RailaOdinga/X
Opposition leader Raila Odinga speaking on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 at KICC after President William Ruto assented the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 into law. PHOTO/@RailaOdinga/X

When President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua joined Opposition chief Raila Odinga and his acolytes and briefed the nation after the signing into law of the IEBC (Amendment) Bill, there was public outrage.

The fury centred on why Raila a seasoned politician, a maverick in reinventing himself politically and a smooth operator in scheming his ways into the hearts of any government prescribed another round of dialogue to treat the boil that is ailing Kenya. A majority of Kenyans are saying a big ‘NO’.

Why? Since the post-election violence that followed the 2007 disputed presidential vote, Kenya has had a series of dialogue, introspection, peace concerts, conferences, negotiations and public discussions on the challenges facing the country. We cannot dialogue perpetually. It is time to say enough is enough with dialogues and just do the right thing.

We have Article 55 of the Constitution, which contains specific applications of rights with respect to young people. Instead of the President wasting taxpayers’ money with another Building Bridges Initiative-like circus, I invite him to read this article.

It says: “The State shall take measures, including affirmative action programmes, to ensure that the youth access relevant education and trainings, have opportunities to associate, be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life, access employment and are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation.” 

Mr President and Raila, you do not need a committee to go round the country and then come to tell you all this – because the framers of the Constitution already put it there. What Kenyans want is for all the leaders to be faithful to the Constitution, especially on the Bill of Rights. 

The rights and fundamental freedoms in the Constitution belong to each individual and are not granted by the State, and the responsibility of the State as far as the rights are concerned is to conserve, respect, protect, promote and fulfil the realisation of those rights. 

Why do you have to set up committees and dialogue teams, and yet the Constitution says that every Kenyan has a right to life. The young people who were felled by snipers outside Parliament and across the country during the recent protests had their right to life violated. The young people want equality and freedom from discrimination. That is the obligation of the state in the Constitution. 

Kenyans are demanding economic and social rights that are granted to us in the Constitution. 

The young people and Kenyans at large do not need a committee of rocket scientists or experts or people from the United Nations to come and interpret for us the Constitution. The answers to the problems we are facing as a country are in it.

We have had conversations around Chapter 6 of the Constitution on leadership and integrity. What is remaining is its full implementation. Article 73 states that the authority assigned to a State officer is a public trust to be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the purposes and objects of the Constitution.

The same article says the authority-assigned State officer should demonstrate respect for the people, bring honour to the nation and dignity to the office and promote public confidence in the integrity of the office and vest in the officer the responsibility to serve the people, rather than the power to rule them.

Over the years, we have made leadership, particularly political office, an opportunity to lord over other people and not to serve them. If the government sat back and reflected, they would realise that all the answers and all the solutions are in black and white in the Constitution.

Young people and Kenyans at large do not want more dialogue or multi-sectoral groups before the President and his Kenya Kwanza administration puts to effect what he has already committed to do. Last month, at a press conference, the President committed to reducing expenditure, starting with his office.

This clearly shows that the President knows exactly what he needs to do, and precisely what he needs to focus on.

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