By Billow KerrowMy apologies Mr President. I seek your leave to pen this open letter to apprise you of the grave situation of insecurity in the former North Eastern Province. Ordinary folks like me don’t get an opportunity to meet you in person because of your many commitments.
Sunday, May 31, 2015
The terrorist threats have isolated the already desolate region from the rest of the country, and created fear and despondency among residents.
The situation has deteriorated to levels worse than during the infamous Shifta war, amid feelings of rising resentment and hopelessness among sections of the youth, with your government’s actions such as curtailing freedoms and issue of identity cards exercabating the situation.
Mr President, you have not visited this region since you were elected into office, even after hundreds of Kenyans were brutally massacred by terrorists. I salute our security forces for their efforts to contain the situation despite challenges.
Mr President, the socio-economic situation in the region has deteriorated rapidly, and the livelihoods of many residents have been destroyed. Businesses have shut down, and some markets and villages abandoned due to insecurity. Many upcountry businessmen have altogether left the region. Terrorists have defiantly camped in parts of Mandera and Garissa counties, hoisting their flags and preaching radical summons. Movement of the residents have been inconvenienced, as buses and other PSVs have to move only in convoys or with police escorts.
Mr President, the region risks losing a generation of its youth as hundreds of schools shut down for lack of teachers. The only university, Garissa University College, has been closed, and perhaps permanently. The Ministry of Education seeks to transfer the lecturers and staff, and all the funding to Moi University. Other tertiary institutions face similar fate. We have abandoned our children and youth in their hour of need due to fear of terrorists. It is unprecedented, and if unabated will provide fodder for radicalisation. Other public services have equally been hit by exodus of workers. Development projects have stalled for lack of professionals willing to travel to the region.
Mr President, residents feel abandoned and left to their fate. They have cooperated with our security agencies when necessary, and volunteered information on suspected terrorists and their sympathisers. Al Shabaab is reportedly recruiting our youth, not just in mosques and madrassas, but more so in our universities, sports fields and corporate institutions.
Mr President, after extensive consultation with the residents, the leaders from the region have shared with you their preferred approach to the handling of the Al Shabaab threats. Many Kenyans see Al Shabaab as a Somali community problem, and North Eastern as their playground. If that be the case, we proposed solutions which if fully implemented would eliminate these threats. You agreed to and endorsed these proposals for immediate action, after extensive consultations, and involvement of your security officials.
Regrettably, despite the urgency of the situation, little has been effected since, except for appointment of the regional commissioner. An officer at your Harambee House office has reportedly sabotaged the process. Mr President, the unnecessary delays in the release of finances such as the quarterly AIE for police in the region has demoralised them.
They traverse the harsh terrain to prevent terrorists crisscrossing our borders at will, without food and water at times; yet Parliament voted over Sh175 billion for security this year alone. Mr President, kindly spare a moment for the people of North Eastern who are under siege. They are Kenyans and deserve your attention like the rest.