By PROF. DR. HALIMU SHAURI
(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
The COVID-19 pandemic struck Kenya, just like it was expected because Nairobi is an economic hub and a gate way to African and many destinations abroad through the Jomo Kenyatta International airport.
Truly, we had our first case announced by health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe, the head of the national COVID-19 coordinating team.
This marked the beginning of a raft of mitigation measures. However, something was a miss and may have impacted on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 mitigation by the National Coordinating team. Effectiveness! I see you wondering.
Yes, the efforts have not been that effective as expected. Indeed, COVID-19 infections are on the rise.
Kenyans have not complied fully to the mitigation guidelines. Many jokes and mockery of the guidelines have been on display.
People have violated quarantine guidelines; others have bribed their way out of lockdown areas or entered in and out of areas in cessation of movement.
The border points with our neighbors have been in crisis, testing still takes long for the results to come out, which is defeatist of purpose.
Mass testing is going on in a snail pace. What has been the cause of this in efficiency and ineffectiveness, I hear you thinking deeply!
The cause has been Nationalization of Devolution in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. How? You want to be pragmatic!
By the national government taking over the management of COVID-19, despite the fact that health was a devolved function.
Imagine what one Minister, Mr Kagwe, has done to mitigate COVID-19! What if the 47 CECs or county health ‘ministers’ were fully involved? Imagine what one national coordinating team has done!
What if 47 county coordinating teams were fully involved! Imagine what the President, single highhandedly has achieved in light of COVID-19 mitigation!
What if 47 governors were fully involved? Imagine if the Sh5 billion meant for counties was released, how much could it have done?
We succeeded with HIV/AIDS pandemic because of education, education and education at the grassroots level.
What if the Sh5 billion was released to counties how much education and communication engineering on COVID-19 mitigation it could have done?The participation of stakeholders is key to the success of any intervention of the magnitude of COVID-19.
Now we are in the thick of things we need to change tact. The economic stimulus package released by the President of approximately Sh53.7 billion should not have been nationalized.
If I am asked I would say each county must have its own economic stimulus package. Simple logic, the economy of Kwale, where I hail from is different from the economy of Nakuru where I studied at Egerton University.
The economy of Kilifi, where I work at Pwani University and stay is different from Nairobi where I did my master’s at the University of Nairobi, Ph.D at Kenyatta University (KU) and lectured for a while at the same (KU).
Finally, the nationalization of COVID-19 mitigation: social, economic, political and health in the face of a devolved system of government, maybe our undoing as a nation.
Let’s allow the governors and their cabinets, who are drawing salaries with minimal or without work take up their roles.
We elected them to govern us but they are quite as they get governed too with the rest of us in the fight against COVID-19.
Imagine the county bosses are waiting for their economies, while different from each other, to be fixed just like us by President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. That’s where we are as a country.