GOVERNOR MUNYA SPEECH DURING 52ND JAMHURI DAY CELEBRATIONS.
Every year for the last 52 years, We the People of Kenya; and our leaders have congregated on this important day to commemorate Jamhuri day - the day we attained our independence and self rule. Jamhuri day is a double celebration occasion for Kenya as it represents the day we attained freedom from the British colonial rule on 12th December 1963 and the day we became a republic on 12th December 1964.
On this day, in 1963, the British Government’s Union Jack was replaced by our own Black, Red, white and Green flag. We have used Jamhuri to look back and reflected on the torturous and painful journey travelled by our freedom fighters to earn us the freedom we enjoy.
The freedom we enjoy today came with a hefty price borne by our heroes and heroines in the freedom movement - blood was spilled, limbs disseminated, skulls broken, men castrated and women raped; families and entire villages destroyed; and women and children hounded into concentration camps in their own Country. This is the price that was paid to get us this far; and we honour and salute our freedom fighters for laying down their lives to get us this freedom.
As the Meru community, we too did our duty to our country during that struggle - our gallant Men abandoned their farms, their families, their wives and children to join the Mau Mau. Our courageous women, under the cover of darkness and away from the marauding eyes of the British soldiers, discretely provided intelligence, food and other supplies to the Men in the forest at great risks to their lives.
They all found warmth, comfort and hope in the company of Mau Mau compatriots in the rainy and thorny bushes of Mount Kenya, Nyambene and Aberdare forests; and not in the false fortresses of the colonizers as home guards. They chose to lay their hands on the arc of history and bend it towards hope; and they worn the struggle for us - because the arc of history always bends towards freedom and justice.
The wounds and scars of that struggle forever remain embossed on our hearts and souls, passed on from one generation to the next as a constant reminder of the correct and true meaning of freedom; of this Jamhuri day. These scars are our emblems of that struggle and they strengthen our enduring commitment to this country as we join other patriotic citizens in finding solutions to the challenges that confront us today.
That is why we celebrate Jamhuri day. That is why we congregate here today to honor that history. As our young men and women enjoy the many benefits of this freedom and capitalism in Kenya today - excellent mobile phone connectivity, smart phones, high speed internet access, mobile payment platforms, super highways, shopping malls with designer merchandize - we must never forget that important piece of our heritage - the blood that was spilled during that freedom struggle must always keep us grounded in our pursuit of happiness today. That blood must always tighten our bonds of togetherness as country.
This is the Jamhuri connection I pursued as a young man as I sought knowledge about our freedom movement from history books. It is a heritage I commit to bequeath to my children; and it is a history I invite every young person in this County and Country to seek to understand and embrace; as your solemn duty to the freedom struggle, to Jamhuri day.
Ladies and gentlemen
Jamhuri day is our most significant national days. It is therefore a day to celebrate our successes and to be happy about the things we have accomplished well as a country. It is also a day to reflect on the missed opportunities, the many false starts and several public policy goofs - a day to have a hard and honest look at our past and re-confirm that we as a People have remained faithful to the Jamhuri ideals of our forbearers; and true to our founding principles. That is the challenge of our time.
While independence brought us self rule on this day 52 years ago, the founding fathers defined the pursuit of economic freedom for our citizens from the dehumanize challenges of poverty, disease and ignorance as the most important project for independent Kenya.
I know we have made progress in a number of areas in this respect, but with retrospection, I am aware the journey ahead is still long; and the climb will be quite steep towards a permanent dent on these maladies. That is why we must all work together, as individual citizens and the two levels of Government, to deliver real economic independence to the citizens of this country.
The devolved structure of Governance we enjoy today gives us a new hope and impetus on this journey defined for us by our founding leaders. I believe devolution is today the most important and probably the only bullet remaining, in our fight against economic marginalization and exclusion that has dogged this country for far too long. That is why we must use this golden bullet well; by always having a safe and steady pair of hands steadying our devolution ship.
As the captain of the County’s devolution ship, I am privileged to Chair the Council of Governors courtesy of your unwavering support and prayers. From this vintage position, I have the bird’s eye view, the balcony perspective about this devolution project this county and country are committed to; and I want to assure you and the entire Country that the devolution plane is safely in the skies, the ship is on the high seas - fast cruising to our desired destiny as a county and country. I know there will be turbulence on the skies and rough tides on the sea during this journey, but with your ardent support and God on our side, we shall safely land.
Ladies and gentlemen
The 47-County Governments have over the last two and half years taken on the task of rekindling the flames of hope in the grassroots by opening and grading rural new roads to connect our villages, building health centres to provide health services close to our people, reticulating clean water to homes and public facilities, erecting new Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes and recruiting ECD teachers to keep our children in school and modernizing agriculture and livestock through irrigation and value addition to improve the livelihoods of farmers.
The Counties are also modernizing hitherto abandoned towns to make them economic hubs, resolving historical land ownership disputes to unlock the potential of land as an economic resource; and reviving the cooperative movement to give new hope to the local communities.
That is why this unfolding devolution story must always be told - because the devolution story is also the Meru story. And the two stories must be told from the same podium; because devolution story and the Meru story are tied together at the hip - like Siamese twins.
On our part as a county, we have remained true to the Jamhuri ideals over the last two years. When we took over the mantle of leadership as a county Government, we defined a vision for our county - to be a United, Prosperous and Green Model County.
United because we believe the true economic, social and political vitality of this country cannot be realized if we continue to be held back by small time retrogressive clan politics that has dogged us for far too long. Progress means confronting the dark corners of our past; and clan based divisions is a past we must deal with as a County in order to get ahead. My generation believes that Meru County is much more than the sum total of our clans, sub-clans and villages. We will earn respect nationally as a community if we earnestly latch on this greater ideal; and I invite all to embrace this vision.
Prosperous because we believe every citizen of this County must have a fair shot in pursuit of self growth and happiness. This County is endowed with a rich natural resource base that is enough to provide decent livelihoods to all of us. We may not have enough to satisfy the greed of a few but we have enough to guarantee quality livelihoods for all of us; and this will require our collective hardwork and industry.
Green because we believe we must pursue sustainable development even as we seek prosperity today. To quote from Obama when he made a speech in Kenya recently, we have only borrowed this County from our children and we must pass over to the younger generation a clean and healthy county when our time is up as leaders, parents, workers or ordinary citizens. That is why we have adopted a green growth approach to development in this County.
Model because when we aspire to be excellent in all and everything we do - we want to be the reference model on how we can organize and innovate to deliver quality and efficient public services in various areas such investments, cooperatives, micro-finance and road construction among others.
I want to confirm to this congregation that this vision is still vibrant and getting realized every day. In keeping with our aspiration to be prosperous, we have started to revive and fortify the cooperative movement as a critical pillar for our development. Meru County is known as the home of cooperatives and we as a Government are living up to this billing by bringing efficiency and good governance in this critical sector.
We supported the Meru Coffee Mill to get a commercial coffee marketing licensing which they received in August 2015 becoming the first and the only cooperative in the country to acquire this license. In the crop of 2013/2014 farmers received more than half a billion shillings to be specific Ksh 533 million in coffee sales. During the March-September 2015 crop season, the mill received 16,500 bags of coffee and processed 7,500 bags of clean coffee that fetched Ksh.132Million from the coffee auction and direct sale.
Ladies and gentlemen
I will be launching the Meru County Micro Finance Bank on 15th January 2016 with a mandate to mobilize savings and provide affordable micro-lending facilities to small and medium sized enterprises in the county for wealth and employment creation. Meru
This bank will initially have two branches - one in Maua and another one in town; and progressively build a wide branch network in all commercial centres of this county. My Government considers affordable credit an important ingredient in the development journey of making Meru County prosperous; and this bank will be a critical anchor in this journey.
In addition, we expect the bank to provide anchor financial services to rich network of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) the Government has established in every sub-county. My Government has provided grant financing to Women, Youth and General Traders SACCOs in each sub-county totaling to Ksh.67.5Million to advance to their members. As a sign of success of this movement, all SACCOs have mobilized about Ksh.26Million and disbursed loans amounting to Ksh.47Million to members.
In Igembe North sub-county, the Women SACCO has mobilized and disbursed Ksh. 4.4Million and Ksh. 2.1Million respectively; while the Women SACCOs in Tigania West has collected savings equivalent to Ksh.2.5Million and disbursement of Ksh.1.1Million as loans to members.
In South Imenti, the Youth SACCO has mobilized Ksh.6.3Million as savings and disbursed Ksh.3.6Million to Members as loans; while the General Traders SACCO in Buuri has collected savings equivalent to Ksh. 1.1Million and disbursed loans amounting to Ksh.0.5Million to members.
In North Imenti Sub-County, the Youth SACCO has mobilized Ksh. 2.9Million in savings and advanced Ksh.1.5Million in loans to members; while the Youth SACCO in Igembe South has collected Ksh.2.9Million in savings and advanced Ksh.1.1Million to members; the women SACCO in the same sub county has disbursed loans worth Ksh 2.4 million and received Ksh 1million in savings.
In Tigania East Sub County, the Women SACCO has advanced loans worth Ksh 8.1 million and mobilized more than Ksh 5.5 million. While in Igembe Central the women SACCO has distributed over Ksh 2.6 million and received Ksh 1 million thousand in form of savings. In Imenti central the Women SACCO has given out loans worth Ksh 855,000 and received savings worth Ksh 755,000.
These figures only provide a highlight of the successes being accomplished by our SACCOs movement and I urge everybody in this County, and especially the youth to join them. I also want to encourage the SACCOs that are lagging behind in recruitment of members, collection of savings and advancement of loans to members to do a lot more and catch up with the others.
In recognition of our role as a leader in the cooperative movement and the policy reforms being undertaken by the County Government in this critical sector, the Cooperative University has expressed an interest to set up a fully fledged Cooperative University in this County; and the County Government has undertaken to provide land for this University project.
These statistics only serves to confirm that we now have an organized and coherent institutional infrastructure for our cooperative movement to accelerate our journey out of poverty, disease and ignorance as envisioned by our liberation heroes and heroines. I encourage every member of this county to join these SACCOs in order to access affordable credit facilities.
Ladies and gentlemen
My Government attaches a lot of importance to the agriculture and livestock development because these sectors provide the most realistic chance to transform the lives of our citizens quickly. Most of the County residents are involved in some form or another of agriculture and livestock keeping, and the sector is therefore the proper entry point towards employment and wealth creation. The Government is therefore rolling out an elaborate agricultural modernization programme in the County to support farmers. We have already procured 68 greenhouse, established 18 drip irrigation kits and constructed 25 water tanks for the farmers in different parts of the County. In addition, the Government is supplying inputs such as certified seeds and providing agriculture and livestock extension services to improve the productivity of these sectors.
The Government is also aggressively pursuing the programme of agriculture value addition in order to finally surmount the problems of post harvest losses, low farm-gate prices and exploitation of farmers by brokers. Our hardworking farmers have for far too long time been held hostage by a dysfunction agricultural marketing system and our solution for this problem is cold storage and value addition. We intend to do this by providing investors with targeted incentives such as land to establish agro-processing factories for specific crops where these crops are grown.
In the dairy sector, my vision is to make Meru County one of the leading dairy producers in the Country in the coming 5 to 10 year horizon. We have begun this journey by providing milk cooling plants and extension services in various parts of the County. In order to improve the quality of our dairy cows and increase milk production, we have imported more than 12,500 doses of affordable quality semen from Brazil for supply to farmers. We have already employed and sent out 18 Artificial Insemination officers and provided them with necessary tools that include 25 motor cycles and an Artificial Insemination Van with a fully equipped kit to provide extension services to farmers.
This programme has been very successful since its launch and 168 doses have been supplied to farmers in North Imenti, 112 doses in Igembe Central and 121 doses in South Imenti. Farmers in Tigania East, Igembe North, Igembe South and Imenti South have been supplied with 115,112, 91, and 121 doses respectively.
I encourage all farmers to look out for these extension officers in order to get the service. I also urge the youth to embrace these modern agriculture and livestock services and participate in these highly rewarding sectors and the Government will walk with you every step on the way.
Ladies and gentlemen
In tandem with our ambition to make Meru the Model County as espoused in our Vision, Meru County has been leading in implementing institutional reforms that transform lives of our citizens in a meaningful. The Micro Finance Bank I mentioned earlier is one such innovation, but two years back, I led a delegation comprising of both the executive and the legislature to Malaysia to learn from that country’s development model; and pick best practices for our county. We learnt two vital things from our hosts.
We learnt that one of the states in that Malaysia had an established special purpose investment corporation that had become extremely successful in mopping private sector investments through joint ventures and other attractive public private partnerships. We reckoned that with such an institution structure in Meru County, we could easily leverage on the resources of the private sector and bring investments to the county in an organized and attractive manner.
Ladies and Gentlemen
On coming back, both sides of the leadership divide - the Executive and the Legislature agreed on the need to establish the Meru County Investment and Development Corporation (MC-IDC) on fast-track basis.
An enabling Act was developed, enacted, assented to and gazetted in record time. The Corporation is now fully operational and is currently engaged in intense negotiations with investors seeking to invest in various sectors of our County economy that include Real Estate, Wind Energy, Small hydropower, Solar, and Agriculture and Livestock value addition.
The Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen), Wind Lab of Australia and Gulf Energy are already undertaking studies in our county with a view to investing in our rich wind energy potential. Naanovo Kenya Limited and Africa Green Energy Solutions Limited are seeking to establish solar parks in Meru County.
On 2nd December 2015, we presented to over 100 investors a Renewable Energy Asset Map developed by the Corporation with support from USAID-FIRM that profiles investment opportunities in 18-small hydro sites in the County. In am happy to announce that we are already getting credible follow ups from investors in this respect, and shortly we shall be having investors taking up some of these opportunities.
A macadamia processing and packaging factory is being developed in this county that will be up and running during the first quarter of 2016. Pagomo Foods, an international potatoe processing Company with a factory in Zimbabwe has set eyes on establishment of a potatoe cold storage and processing factory in Timau. We have identified suitable land for this factory in Maritati, in Timau and the investor has confirmed that Meru County could have a potatoe processing factory by December 2016 if commerciality is confirmed.
Discussions are also underway with investors interested in establishing banana, avocado and maize milling plants in Meru County and we have established collaboration with the Kenya Industrial Research and Development (KIRDI) to partner with us on this journey. The factory model is the economic renaissance path we have chosen for our county and we intend to stick to it with undivided attention.
In the real estate sector, plans are underway to commence construction of a 18-storey Meru Rising Tower at Angaine Estate using a hybrid of debt and equity with the private sector. Our intention is to leverage on these investment ventures to create wealth and convert our County into an investment hub within a short span of time.
The second innovation we picked from Malaysia was in the construction of quality roads using the cost effective low volume seal probase technology. We talked to the Export Bank of Malaysia and they agreed to lend us money to construct 300KM of modern road network using this technology.
We explained how this model to engineers in Nairobi on our return - how that technology worked and why we thought it could help Meru and the Country. As is the case with new innovations, the learning curve was slow, but we never wavered in our determination to get the message through.
Ladies and gentlemen
We finally succeeded and Meru County was awarded a 10KM project on pilot basis using this technology. We mobilized the contractors and built the first probase technology road in Kenya in record time. None other than H.E the President of the Republic of Kenya has visited the road and applauded the technology. Other County Governments are now undertaking similar projects upon visits to the site; and the National Government is considering adopting this technology for mass low volume road development programmes in the Country.
We are now in the process of tendering to undertake another 150KM of paved roads using similar low volume seal technology. This road network will transform Meru County in ways never witnessed before and I want to appeal to the entire leadership from Meru County to see the bigger picture and be part of history making by supporting this project.
As I say this, I have a letter from our Senator, Hon. Kiraitu Murungi opposing this project ostensibly because he thinks the technology is inferior and expensive. I must say I have known our Senator for a long time and hold him in high esteem but I think on this project, my good friend is drifting towards the wrong side of history - and he needs to find his way back.
Ladies and gentlemen
The abandoned villages of Mworoga in Igoji South Imenti, Munithu in North Imenti or Kiegoi in Igembe South; or Ntirimiti in Buuri and Kore in Igembe Central of this county do not have the luxury of engaging in those clever arguments - they need 150KM of paved roads to improve their lives and it is our responsibility as leaders to figure out how that is accomplished. Sending protest letters is not part of finding solutions - it is shirking on an opportunity to provide leadership on a matter so important to this community.
What we ask of the Senator is to stop talking at us but to join hands with us in providing practical solutions to the problems facing Meru County. If the Senator has better and cheaper road building technology, we invite him to bring it to do the 150KM of paved roads this community badly needs - and my Government will embrace it without hesitation.
However, there are other more pressing challenges facing Meru County that require the attention of our Senator and our other political representatives in Nairobi. One such matter is the unfolding economic cannibalization of Miraa farmers in Meru because of denial of market access for Miraa by Britain and the Netherlands. This has happened even after studies by European scientists came to an unequivocal finding that Miraa was not a drug.
Ladies and gentlemen
We have on various occasions brought the dire plight of Miraa farmers to the attention of National Government; and advised that this matter qualifies as a trade dispute that should be escalated to the World Trade Organization (WTO) under GATTs rules. We believe the National Government has the diplomatic leverage to resolve this matter quickly if it has the political will to do so.
I say so because we have seen this Government unleash heavy diplomatic machinery to whip the international community to submission on international matters it considers important; including the matters at the ICC. This is matter that the National Government can resolve and we ask our representatives in Nairobi to intercede on behalf of Miraa farmers at that level.
The National Government has also on many occasions provided financial safety nets to farmers whose economic livelihoods have been threatened by externalities associated with international market and geopolitical systems. The Government recently provided about Ksh.3billion to support sugar cane farmers in Western Kenya; while similar interventions have been rolled out to support maize and coffee farmers. While we agree that farmers in these sectors deserved the financial support they got from the Government, we believe the economic downturn facing Miraa farmers in Nyambene today require similar attention.
In addition, Meru County has been grappling with escalating insecurity along our border with Isiolo County over the recent past during which we lost people on account of senseless incursions by bandits and cattle rustlers. I am happy to report that our border with Isiolo County has now been marked. I want to thank the National Government for the progress made in resolving this matter over the last two weeks; and hope both Counties will not have to lose lives again in that area.
Ladies and gentlemen
Like I have indicated earlier, there is no border dispute between Meru and Isiolo Counties because our administrative boundaries are known. We therefore urge our neighbor to respect our border so that our County citizens can continue trading in peace and harmony like they have always done.
To our political representatives in Nairobi, the Miraa question and security threats along our border with Isiolo are the most urgent leadership challenges facing Meru County today and we request of their robust and dedicated representation and support in resolving these two issues.College of Biological and Physical Sciences School of Biological Sciences
Ladies and gentlemen
As I conclude, may I thank our Almighty God, all the leaders of Meru County, the citizens and in a special way appreciate the efforts by our freedom heroes and heroines for the sacrifices they made to accord us this opportunity to celebrate our freedom.
Lastly, l take this early opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year 2016.
God Bless You and God Bless Meru and God bless Kenya