Can anything good come out of Turkana? This has always been the question on everybody’d lips until the president on 26th March, 2012 announced to the whole world that oil had been discovered in Turkana by Britain’s Tullow oil. Before any dust has settled, a news exposé in one of the leading dailies reports that a certain “unlucky” minister had sold an ‘oil block’ in Turkana” for a whooping Kshs. 800 million. How the said human vulture circuminvented Article 71 (1) (a) of the constitution is a question best left to our lawyers. This a peculiar breed of people whose belly is full but they still feel hungry. No wonder some artists are talking of our parliament being occupied by vultures! Turkana has been despised and reviled by each successive Kenyan government, the injustices they have endured will not be soothed by the oil discovery.
How the said minister got privy to the information that led him to acquiring such a prime chunk of “block” is a matter of bewilderment. Chapter Six has become synonymous with the highest ideals and expectations of a leader should be, that he should serve and not rule, serve based solely on the public interest, demonstrated amongst others the declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties. Personally I would only liken it to insider trading, not smart thinking. Turkana has since time immemorial been relegated to the periphery of the Kenyan educational, security, development and economic agenda. The only time Kenya has gone into Turkana has been to punish and purge them for banditry related past times, or to shed crocodile tears after a massacre by well armed militias from neighboring countries. Turkana has been thirst in the midst of abundance of water while the rest of the country wallowed transitioned into cyber age.
The time is now ripe for the people of Turkana to take their rightful place at the dinner table. The wait has been long, and it seems it was not waiting in vain, the divine hand of providence has been shown to them. The only time Turkana has been on the front pages has been when hunger, disease and death visited, but now it is hogging the limelight positively. Let the oil be a blessing to the Turkana, not a curse as has been the case in Nigeria, Sudan and other places in the world. Let the oil revenue be used to improve the living standards of the locals not just to boost the “national” economy. This is clearly set out in the constitution Article 66. (2) Thus “Parliament shall enact legislation ensuring that investments in property benefit local communities and their economies.” With the new constitutional dispensation, the county government should be the one to call the shots.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a study on what evil mineral resources can wreck on a people; The Niger Delta is a classic example of what economic subjugation can lead to. Turkana is not special, due to the reason that the rest of Kenya had forgotten about it, the new found camaraderie will likely be justly met with suspicion and hatred. Turkana will likely rise up to defend its rights and those who have set forth at dawn in pursuit of the oil of Turkana with a signed, sealed and delivered deal mentality should rethink their conclusion again.