As the rest of the world marked the World AIDS Day on Friday 1st December, and the President attended the World Ploughing Contest in Njoro, a circus was taking place in Nakuru Town.
At the Old Town Hall, a motley crowd gathered and for three hours exchanged words as they purported to discuss an issue they were completely ignorant about.
The previous night, at around half past nine, a hired hand had posted on several WhatsApp groups a picture of a notice apparently calling residents to appear for the all-important exercise. Although the public participation was to bring both Nakuru Town East and Nakuru Town West constituents together, none of their elected leaders was there and the participants in the densely populated sub-counties numbered less than thirty.
The first anomaly noted by the residents was that though the venue of the constitutionally enshrined exercise was indicated, the time was glaringly left out.
The late notice and the omission of time had immediately raised integrity queries among residents but those concerned had decided to push on with the exercise regardless of the concerns.
Earlier in the day, the MCA for Biashara Ward Hon. Peter Nyaguthie had requested the concerned to postpone the event but without success.
“It is highly irregular to summon residents for Public Participation on the Finance Bill within such a short notice. The residents have not had time to go through the document and it’s absurd to expect them to come here today and discuss the same,” said the MCA.
At a meeting for matatu stakeholders earlier in the day, an officer at the County had tried to get the members to sign their names in a document that would have indicated they were attending Public Participation but they had refused.
For three hours, a crowd of about twenty had thrown words at each other. Of all those in attendance, only one person had admitted having had prior access to the Finance Bill with the rest whose majority were political hangers-on in Nakuru Town wondered what they were there to discuss.
“I believe whoever is behind today’s exercise is taking Nakuru residents for fools. How many people who will be affected by the Finance Bill are here today? How many are aware that it’s happening and how many are even aware of its contents?” Wondered one participant who wanted the whole sham exercise postponed.
On his part, the county official in charge kept saying that since that was not the final part of the Finance Bill, it didn’t matter whether those in attendance knew of its contents.
“We are already late in this process. We cannot, therefore, postpone this process and since this is not even the final session in the process, it really doesn’t matter whether people are aware of today’s proceedings,” said the official trying to calm the unruly crowd.
It remains to be seen whether the exercise that clearly exposed the Finance Department as inefficient, uncaring and with a hidden agenda will consider the circus a valid exercise. Many residents are of the opinion that this was no more than a sham exercise aimed at ramming something down the people’s throats and it should be declared null and void and another one held.