CITY GIRL: Mr President, please don’t waste Sh1bn on miraa
Dear Mr President,
Hello. It’s me. The City Girl. This is a bit awkward. It is my first time, you know. I have never written to a President before. Forgive me if I am a little shy.
I try to avoid commenting on matters politics and economics mostly because such topics are beyond my scope of comprehension. On a normal day, you will find me insulting bloggers, shisha boys and occasionally, tackling the elephants in the room (also known as “plus-size”).
But today, Mr President, I had to write to you. You see, Mr President, you have been on my mind a lot lately.
Before I say what brought me here, allow me to clear a few things first. I know big men have been felled for writing mean letters to you. I want you to know that I am not one of the bold types that use unkind words like “Get your act together” while addressing you.
Me, I am just a mere City Girl with a column to write and heels to buy so promise not to report me to my boss after reading this?
Now that we are on the same page, allow me to take just two minutes of your time. Today’s column will be short and precise; I know you are a busy man.
Mr President, I heard that you have set aside Sh1 billion to cushion miraa farmers in Meru. To say that I am deeply disappointed by your decision is to put it mildly. You are letting our youth down.
At what expense are you going to boost an industry that is already on its deathbed? For votes? Really, Mr President? Surely aren’t there less damaging ways to secure a stronghold?
Maybe I should have paid more attention in my economics class because my mind cannot process how that Sh1 billion is going to cushion a product that is already banned in its main markets (US, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia).
If the international market has banned miraa, whom do you want to replace that market? Kenya’s youth?
Sir, let me educate you. These young people already have enough struggles. They are struggling with drugs, alcohol, shisha (now this, you MUST ban) and unscrupulous betting companies that snatch the few coins they earn.
I also understand where you are coming from, Mr President. On one hand, there are these farmers who have been impoverished after the ban of miraa and on the other hand, you have an election to win.
However, to inject such a colossal amount of money to help a single group of Kenyans at the expense of a larger group, is a classic example of “How not to get re-elected”. Trust me, I have watched enough episodes of House of Cards to know this.
Seriously though, Mr President, help me understand, why would you go round the country banning illicit brews that kill hundreds of young men, but set aside Sh1 billion to boost another drug?
If you are going to inject a billion shillings into this industry then you might as well ask the consortium of illicit brewers to form a Sacco that will be fully funded by your government because miraa is disrupting lives in the same way illicit brew does.
Many may doubt this, but you are a brilliant, “young” man, Mr President. You are a clever chap, I know it in my heart.
Surprise the naysayers and give the people of Maua in Meru what they really need. A viable option to this drug you call a “cash crop” and save many youths in the process. And win an election, perhaps?
I am not here to tell you what to do with taxpayers’ money, there are people you have employed to do that. Plus, I am not the economist type that would bring to your attention the ailing coffee and sugar industry that could do more with that kabillion you’ve got to spare.
My usual readers will criticise me today because they think I have been soft on you. But only because you are the President and I (not they) have a job to keep.
Mr President, I know the buck in this country stops with you. You are the boss. It is never too late to do the right thing. After firing those who misled you, do the right thing and invest that billion in a more deserving place.
Meru is beautiful and fertile; you have a battalion of experts who can advise you on better ways to secure that stronghold.
Whatever you do, keep those dangerous leaves out of your re-election strategy.
And while at it, please, Ithe wa Ngina, borrow a leaf from our Tanzanian neighbours who banned this poison years ago.