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With Simon Bodo

Much as we would want to commend our president for the efforts he puts in ensuring that the country’s economy improves, we would also point out the pertinent issues that guard against the depletion of natural resources and eventual extinctions of our endemic species – conservation 101. Of late, it seems that the president’s economic rulebook has cajoled him to train his eyes on sales of the country’s assets to raise the necessary funds needed to jolt the economy back to its knees before it gets to its feet.

The latest development on this sales spree puts India as having emerged as the highest bidder for our beloved cheetahs. The country is oblivious to the financial dent on India’s purse for the great acquisitions of our felines because even the public was not called on to participate as per the dictates of the constitution.

This is left for Auditor General Dr. Nyakang’o to deal with to bring the country to speed with it. If we had a surplus of cats, it would not have been a big deal. Indeed, the population of cheetahs in Kenya stands at 1,160 as per the Wildlife Census Report 2021 and is listed as one of the endangered species (threatened to go into extinction within a few years).

If cheetahs went into extinction from India more than 70 years ago, what makes the president think that the exported cheetahs to India will survive given that several ecological issues come into play for a species to be extinct? Or it is just being done with disregard for the survival of the animals? India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

We should not therefore drive our animals into extinction because of trifling farthings.
On this, a depressing sense of sadness combined with a feeling of inferiority would assail my consciousness bearing the fact that Dr. Ruto is not only a holder of Masters of Ecological Botany but a PhD holder in matters dealing with life science. This means the president should have the conservation dynamics at his fingertips.

Purporting to offer tidbits of advice about matters dealing with the eccentricities of ecological ecosystems – conservation specifically – may not sit well with many custodians of such knowledge in the academia since a PhD holder is often held in lofty awe as a paragon of knowledge and authority in that field. I am convinced so.
I am also certain that the president knows that sometimes sales cannot automatically equate to spontaneous growth.

The growth is realized from the prudent use of the available resources without malfeasance. This conviction arises from the admirable determination of Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the first Singapore Prime Minister who soiled his hands for the greater good of his motherland.

Arising from the clutches of colonialism in 1960, Mr. Lee paid keen attention to every criticism levelled against the nascent economy of his country. Dr Albert Winsemius, a celebrated Dutch economist of his time on giving his post-trip report to the United Nations in 1960 wrote “Singapore is going down the drain; it is a poor market in a dark corner of Asia.” Out of what seemed to be an obvious derogatory remark, Mr. Lee read the entire report picked important recommendations from the report went ahead to employ the Dutch economist as his chief economic advisor, a role that he played for 23 years.

Out of this move, the transformation of Singapore (which the president often refers to) became an “instantaneous magical” – from a high unemployment rate that rivalled the horizons and GDP per capita of $426 in 1960 to one of the world’s most advanced economies ranking 12th on Human Development Index with a GDP per capita of $72,300 as at this year 2023.

The story has a lot to be gleaned even as the Kenya Kwanza government struggles to steady the economy. It does not necessarily repose on the sales of resources and assets. Both economists’ and conservationists’ voices need to be heard loudly in this matter.
By Simon Bodo.

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