Roadside orders: Expensive burden that baffled many

Friday, February 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Former President Daniel arap Moi addresses the public at a trading centre in Uasin Gishu on his way to open the Nandi Agriculture Show. Photo/PD/FILE

Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka

President Moi will be remembered for issuing executive orders at roadside stopovers while traversing the country.

Some of the declarations caught his ministers and bureaucrats off guard.   

And government officials to whom the instructions were directed would comply with them fully, at times without the requisite budget.

Former Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi says Moi made life very difficult for administrators.

“He would dish out everything asked for by the people without considering the budgetary implications,” he told People Daily.

“Mzee Moi would dish out a road there, a hospital, a school or a market until it became almost impossible to fund the budget. That was President Moi for you,” Kaguthi adds.

So entrenched was the practice of roadside declarations that President Mwai Kibaki officially declared an end to it when he took office in 2002.

“The era of roadside declarations has gone. My government’s decisions will be guided by teamwork and consultations,” Kibaki said.

While many of President Moi’s roadside declarations went unchallenged some later resulted in lengthy legal tussles.

Kamiti KFS land

In 1995, for instance, Moi through a roadside declaration gave out about 420 acres of forest land (Kamiti Gazetted Forest) belonging to Kenya Forest Service to displaced families in Rift Valley in the 1992 post-election violence.

The move later resulted in a protracted court case pitting Kenya Forest Service (KFS) against beneficiaries such the Kamiti Forest Squatters Association and Kamiti Development Association among others. 

Yet that was not the first time Moi had made such a declaration. In 1978, just after he became President, he ordered that all football clubs whose names bore ethnic connotations drop them.

His directive led  to the renaming or folding up of clubs such as Abaluhya Football Club, Luo Union, Maragoli United, Digo United, Sikh Union Club, and Goan Institute among others.

One of the most memorable roadside declarations by Moi was in 1999 when he re-appointed former Vice President the late George Saitoti the position after he had dropped him in 1997.

“I’ve given back Prof Saitoti the seat of Vice-President, hopefully now your sufurias (pots) will be full of food,” Moi said in Limuru.

Since Moi exited the political stage in 2002, successive presidents have promised not to issue roadside declarations but end up doing the same.

Whether they learned the habit from him is a discussion for another day. 

Director of Sport

Earlier in 1989, President Moi in a roadside declaration appointed Job Omino the Director of Sports, a post that did not exist at the time, in a move widely viewed as an attempt to appease the Luo community. 

Prior to Omino’s appointment, he and Robert Ouko had been involved in a fierce contest for Kisumu Rural parliamentary seat, a fight that left many locals disgruntled after Ouko, who was the government’s favorite, won in controversial circumstances. 

Thanks to his non-existent post, Omino was given a job title and an official car but received no salary or office since the appointing authority did not give an appointment letter.  After Ouko died in 1990, Omino contested the Kisumu Rural seat and won.

In 1993, Moi was meeting former vice president, Oginga Odinga in Bondo, a few months before Odinga died in 1994, when in a roadside declaration he ordered piped water installed for all residents of Bondo town. The directive has never been implemented to date.

The roadside declarations were not confined to upcountry. 

In the late 90s he was opening, a housing estate associated with a senior military officer along Nairobi’s Mbagathi Way, when he verbally allocated a piece of land adjacent to the City Mortuary to a self-help group present.

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