Congratulations are in order for President-Elect William Samoei Ruto’s gallant victory at the ballot. On Tuesday September 13, Dr Ruto will be sworn in as the fifth President and make history on several fronts. It has been a remarkable journey for him and rather than State House being a destination, it should be the beginning of another more important duty.
You see, as Kenyans cast their ballot on August 9, each of them planted a seed of hope, restoration and expectations. Whether their candidate won or lost, they made a statement of intent. They sought a renewal and promise of better days ahead. While elections are in nature divisive, they should never sow seeds of despair or trigger hopelessness.
Democracy, they say is where the majority have their way while the minority have their say. In the end, all Kenyan voters are winners and can be likened to planters of trees. The onus is now on President Ruto’s team to water and nurture the seedlings Kenyan voters put into the soil.
This team must do all they can to grow the seedlings of affordable healthcare, quality education, decent housing, equal opportunities and a thriving economy. No Kenyan should be left behind. Kenya is a fertile ground for all her 52 million people if the land is “tilled” properly, tended carefully and the harvest shared equitably.
President-elect Ruto should now assume the father-figure stature and lead in healing the fissures wrought on by the grueling campaigns. He must quickly close ranks with rivals and get down to delivering on his promises. There are quick wins he can work on this early.
To lower the cost of food, he can invest in sound agriculture policies that encourage smallholder farmers and the largescale producers. The Guaranteed Minimum Returns (GMR) for farmers that his Kenya Kwanza Alliance pledged during the campaigns, should be a starting point. Majority of farmers have often decried high cost of farm inputs, cheap imports and exploitation from middlemen or brokers.
The Kenya Kwanza administration has a clean slate to dismantle cartels and introduce value driven markets for farmers’ produce. If all farmers can make an honorable living from their ventures, there will be enough money to keep many of our youth from the jobless corner. Food will be enough for all and there would be no more shameful call for food aid and donations from Kenyans in North Eastern.
Indeed, should agriculture be fixed, President Ruto will have planted the biggest opportunity for all Kenyans. All successful countries started by feeding themselves, exporting the surplus and making enough money to invest in technology. It can be done here and President Ruto has in the past demonstrated ability to initiate projects and see them through up to completion.
Personally in 2011 when Wangari Mathai passed on, I invited then Cabinet Minister William Ruto to commemorate her by establishing 71 trees. A movement started at the Prof Wangari Maathai Institute. He duly attended and planted trees demonstrating his passion for agriculture and environmental conservation. Shortly after, this campaign that targets a 40% forest cover by 2032 evolved into the now famous Plant Your Age initiative commemorated annually on 14th September. This year just a day after the President’s inauguration I will be joining Kenyans at Unga village, Ndhiwa Sub-County of Homa Bay County as we plant 1,881 trees which represent the number of newly elected leaders from the MCA to the President. Similar Plant Your Age activities will be held across the country because we believe in a green future where everyone thrives. The President has a huge opportunity to make tree growing the norm rather than a one-day event. This is only possible if we think green and act green!