In Kenya, no one talked that much about the importance of a president’s first 100 days until retired President Mwai Kibaki (whom the country is current mourning since Friday) took office in 2002. Since then, the first 100 days of a presidential term has taken on symbolic significance; and, the period is considered a benchmark to measure the early success of a leader.
When did the first 100 days become a benchmark for Kenya presidential administration?
The 100 days concept is believed to have its roots in France, where cent jours (hundred days) refers to the period in 1815 between Napoleon Bonaparte’s return to Paris from exile on the island of Elba and his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo after which King Louis XVIII regained the French throne.
I have 10 suggestions for the next president’s first 100 days diary.
First, the next president will have to address major crises facing the country and top in priority should be food security and the sputtering economy. I bet the cost of food is becoming fairly too much for Kenyans. From milk and bread to sugar, onions, tomatoes and Unga among other household staples are unfordable to many. The next president should put in place a lasting solution for food security with a narrow majority in Parliament, a slim, or non-existent, margin in the Senate and millions of Kenyans who would have not vote for him.
He should put forth a guaranteed income initiative to support individuals and families to avoid disintegration of family units or having people turn to suicide because of extreme helplessness. By reaching out to help one another at a time of crisis, we all can restore the sense of purpose that has made us a great country.
Secondly, corruption in Kenya has reached an alarming proportion. Leaders have learnt the art of eating with no crumbs falling down. They eat clean and wipe mouths as if nothing has happened. You only realize two years down the line when the scam is unearthed. I bet the next president has a task at hand to reign in on corruption in the first 100 days of his administration.
Thirdly, nepotism. It has become fashionable to toy with the words merit and professionalism whenever cases of nepotism in public appointments are pointed out. Question is, is merit and professionalism so confined to only a select few of us? The next president should see merit and professionalism among all Kenyans and this should be reflected in the appointment of Cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, permanent secretaries, chief executive officers among other plum government jobs.
Unity is the fourth. Kenyans truly love each other and this can be attested to by how we stay together in estates, eat together, celebrate occasions together, worship together, our children play together and all that.
In the first 100 days in office, the next president should work to further entrench this unity of purpose in diversity among us.
The cost of fuel is the other thing the president must stabilize. The coat has been skyrocketing at an alarming rate. With this, the costs of production, transport and everything has followed suit. The president should not use fuel and its shortage to create a crisis for Kenyans but find a quick and lasting solution.
Sixth, the cost of medication has become practically out of reach for majority of Kenyans to an extent that our political leaders fly out of the country to seek treatment whenever they or members of their families fall sick. The next administration should fix the mess in our medical system and assure Kenyans of quality and affordable medical care for all.
Issue number seven is the transport system, which is in shambles. Driving to work is hell on earth in Nairobi. Ours are patch works that defy the meaning of roads. And yet, we are surcharged heavily on fuel levy to maintain roads. The next president should ensure Kenyans have quality works for our money, one who will ensure the gridlocks we are saddled with in Nairobi are sorted out soonest.
Another issue is discipline: As a society, we are lacking in discipline across many spheres. The police service is not disciplined, they have refused to enforce the law; drivers are not disciplined on the road and they disobey traffic rules with impunity; and even lawyers and judicial officers are not disciplined as they dispense justice in a many that does not respect the law. Kenya wants a leader who can ensure discipline.
Lastly, Kenyans countrywide live in fear of the police, thugs, the politician, cattle rustlers and bandits as well as the fear of the lawyer and the judge. We have become so fearful because of insecurity in every sphere of life. The president should prioritize and deal with security and assure Kenyans are safe in their motherland.
This is an extremely tall order. The next administration may not accomplish all of these in 100 days, or maybe even in five years, but their greatest strength should be decency, character and unwavering commitment to morality and the truth. The leader may need to learn from Franklin D Roosevelt’s wisdom of what must constitute and penetrate the “why” of the presidency. He says: “The presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is eminently a place of moral leadership.” Finally, my hope is that the next president and others will join me in emerging out of the tempest of our times with their best and truest selves. That each of us be accountable for our thoughts and actions, for how we show up in each moment.