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Opinion & Analysis

Time to exercise sovereignty as Kenyan

A political rally: As Kenyans cast their vote let us protect our country, its peaceful existence and its continued growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A political rally: As Kenyans cast their vote let us protect our country, its peaceful existence and its continued growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Finally, the day has arrived. The date when citizens exercise their power to delegate sovereign power to those they would like to govern them.

As we go to the polls on Tuesday, we must all remind ourselves of the history of this country. That historical refection must include Kenya’s fight for independence, the development path we have taken since then and the challenges we have met on the way.

Two critical historical points deserve greater attention on the Kenyan journey. First are the events following the 2007 General Election. Until then Kenya had been an island of peace.

We had held elections periodically, some uneventfully, others with complaints. At all times, though those elections had ended peacefully. In 2007, though, our peace was shattered. We learnt our lessons as a country.

Part of the process of avoiding violence around elections led us to the second historical moment. That was August 27, 2010. On that day, we adopted a new covenant to govern our affairs . That momentous occasion can be described as the rebirth of Kenya.

Through the Constitution we affirmed our sovereignty as citizens. We also clarified that all the three arms of government are subordinate to citizens will and authority. They exercise delegated authority from the people of Kenya. For the Legislature and Executive, that delegated power is subject to renewal every five years.

The time for the assessment has come. For anyone who has been a teacher they will be too aware that you do not make noise. You do not fight. You objectively and comprehensively analyse the performance of your students and grade them accordingly.

The politicians have done their bit of trying to impress us. It is our turn to assess each of them and determine whom we would like to delegate our sovereign powers to. This is a solemn duty. It is the focus of Article 1 of the Constitution.

This election has been eventful. I spoke to some colleagues last week. They were all clear that they would vote.

The levels of their determination were inspiring. It was even more reassuring that the group I was talking to was from different communities and different political persuasions.

As citizens, we owe it ourselves to exercise our sovereign authority. We will then be taking charge of our destiny and owning the decisions that those we elect make on our behalf.

You cannot be quick to criticise or complain when you do not take the chance to exercise your right to vote.

There has been debate about making voting compulsory. While this approach has its merits and demerits; it demonstrates the importance of elections.

Having voted we have to wait for the results.

Those with the task of superintending the process too exercise delegated powers from the citizenry. They have an onerous responsibility. It is solemn task. They cannot afford to betray the trust citizens have placed on them.

Citizens, on their part have to support them to ensure they deliver. Public service is a huge responsibility. But as the events of the last week demonstrated, it also carries with it risks.

One’s life can be in danger due to the nature of their work. We need to support those who serve the public. In any case, they are exercising functions and powers we have delegated to them. They are our agents.

Once we finalise the voting process and have elected leaders for the next five years, we should realise that we cannot afford to go to sleep waiting for 2022.

I hope this election circle confirms to all citizens that sovereign responsibility is a full-time obligation. We need to engage in all processes relating to governance of the country.

We will always have competing visions on how the country should be governed. That is the nature of democracy. We, should, however, never disagree on the importance of project Kenya.

Consequently, all of us owe this country. The debt we owe is to ensure that the country remains a going concern and progresses. Our vote must be exercised in a manner that respects this reality.

As Kenyans cast their vote let us protect our country, its peaceful existence and its continued growth.

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