With the New Year just in, several political aspirants are fighting hard and smart to prove their knowledge of challenges facing the citizens of Busia County and their ability to address these challenges once and for all when elected. In this tight and tough battle, the young generation is not left behind in its vision and perhaps mission to ensure the betterment of the socio-economic wellbeing of Busia people. One such strong young lady is Karen Kassam, who is aspiring to be the Western ‘Border’ County’s senator come August this year. She was generous enough to pass across a few messages during an interview carried out by one of our top Correspondents in Busia.
Who is Karen?
I am a very energetic young 30-year-old lady who aspires to be the senator for Busia County. I was born raised and schooled at primary level in Busia County and I am very articulate in Luhyia language. I am an auditor and economist by profession. I am also very intelligent and well-travelled, actually through all African countries and few others in Europe, Asia and America.
Why the senatorial post?
The senator’s role is that of an overseer, in this case, the National as well as the County Governments. I as a senator will ‘pull’ funds and resources from the Central government to the county government and monitor the utilization of the county’s allocation. I will return the power to the people and stop a few greedy individual from grabbing power and enriching themselves at the expense of the whole community. Busia has viable resources, most vital being manpower, we can harness this through value addition sustainable economic growth where the youth who form at least 70%of the County population can be employed.
Why just 2017, why not 2013 or 2022?
Back in 2013 I could not say that I understood the role of this kind of leadership, then again I was more focused on tarmacking for employment, but now I have seen that most of our issues actually come from policies that have been set up and so we need policy changes. As a youth I understand the problems we are facing because am still in that age bracket where we are looking for jobs and we have all the energy and skills, we are just wallowing in poverty yet we are now the parents and the breadwinners in our families; we cannot even provide for our children and the elderly. I want to be the voice of the youth to represent the voice of the majority in Busia. I also want to speak for our women who have children in the villages, our roads are inaccessible. Expectant ladies cannot access dispensaries easily in Busia. The trailers parked along the road in Busia and Malaba are endangering our lives every day. We need to build special parks for these trailers and have active fire brigade systems and services. Such and many more changes cannot wait till 2022. We cannot just stay comfortable being ranked among the poorest counties with all these resources and manpower that we have; it is now that than ever that we need to be that positive change in our county.
What is the first you will do as a senator?
I will make sure that the funding that Busia deserves is brought back to the county, then I will monitor the utilization of the funds. I will consult with the Busia citizens what they need in their specific areas, and I will consult with the governor and tell him what the people want. We have to give people their priorities.
Why should Busia people entrust you with their votes? What makes you different from any other oratory politician?
I have not promised any extraordinary developments when in office, I have not promised factories and roads and airports. I will go there to perform the roles that have been mandated to a senator according to the constitution of Kenya and as I have said before, I will do that which the people send me to do and if I don’t then I beg the citizens of Busia to get me out of office.
How would you rate the County as at now?
We can do better than be ranked among the poorest Counties in the country. We have the third largest tax collection borders in the country. We are not performing so well, there is no single functioning industry in Busia; the literacy level at 65% is very low; even below the national average which is about 75%. Our health facilities are wanting. We are the leading County in rape cases because of soft prostitution. These young teenage girls engage in prostitution for food because of poverty. We have no food silos to cater for us in times of hunger. It is a pity that we are in the Western region, which is one of the country’s food baskets yet we starve. We have no irrigation projects and any more food and economic sustaining projects. So in summary, with close strict monitoring of funds and county projects, we can do way better than we are.
How can you describe your reception on the ground putting in mind your young age and gender?
I admit Busia is grown and educated enough to rate leaders on performance and not just on age and gender, so the reception is warm, people are welcoming and ready to listen.
What is your message to the youth and voters in general?
Do not accept to be bribed and sell your votes. A senator’s salary in five years cannot make up for the funds given as voter bribery and handouts. Before you vote one in as a leader, just because he or she has bribed you, ask yourself this, ‘how will this person regain all the money he or she has lost bribing us?’ By bribing you, a politician is literally ‘buying’ your votes. It is obvious that such a leader will spend his or her entire in office trying to make up for the funds one used to buy your votes; those funds are none other than the county allocations. Elect leaders who understand the community and will listen to you. Elect clean leaders, avoid corruption infested leaders. Other counties have elected such and are ripping their devolution fruits in peace, why don’t we as Busia go for such clean record leaders and forget our menaces once and for all? To the youth, do not be incited to cause violence for selfish leaders.
Well, we report you rate and judge, there is Miss Karen Kassam an auditor, well versed with the County, and we wish her well in her Busia senatorial aspirations. To Feature
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