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September 24, 2018

A Call For Dialogue In Luo Nyanza

PARAMOUNT CHIEF? Former PM Raila Odinga. before getting all worked up about the reasons for and, or, mechanics of holding a national referendum, we – the Majestic People of Luo Nyanza – demand and deserve to hold an Extraordinary Regional Dialogue (ERD) with The Odinga Caliphate in order to settle three burning issues.  Photo DENNIS KAVISU.
PARAMOUNT CHIEF? Former PM Raila Odinga. before getting all worked up about the reasons for and, or, mechanics of holding a national referendum, we – the Majestic People of Luo Nyanza – demand and deserve to hold an Extraordinary Regional Dialogue (ERD) with The Odinga Caliphate in order to settle three burning issues. Photo DENNIS KAVISU.

Everyone except The Odinga Caliphate and Deputy President William Ruto agrees that the dialogue season is here. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi and Peter Kenneth argue that our national problems can be resolved during a nice tête-à-tête over at State House.

The Luo Paramount Chief had imported that idea from the US before quickly abandoning it after two months for a national referendum because both Uhuru and Ruto said that they could only invite Raila and his Caliphate for tea at State House but not succumb to endless, undefined discussions through threats.

Although I was initially opposed to the idea of a group of rich, lazy men lounging around expensive sofa sets and dimpling on croissants while pretending to be concerned about our issues, I have since changed my mind.

Dialogue – if conducted productively – can bring desirable results. But before we engage in a national referendum, I would suggest that we begin by attempting to resolve our domestic, constituency, county and regional issues through constructive dialogue.

Apparently, even the gods aren’t happy with the national referendum agitation by The Odinga Caliphate. Media reports suggest that all the Caliphate’s signature gathering activities around the country last Saturday were disrupted by storms that hauled for hours and drenched all the paraphernalia the cult had gathered for the events.

The skies seemed to have obeyed the Paramount Chief to scatter the Jubilee administration with heavy storms. It’s misleading for The Caliphate to start collecting signatures when they haven’t crystallised the referendum question and listed all the issues they are seeking support for.

Baldly asserting that we need electoral reforms, the strengthening of constitutional commissions, ethnic and gender balance and allocation of more money in the counties are too vague to enable voters make informed decisions. Kenyans deserve to know both the form and content of the electoral reforms being proposed.

Merely asserting that we should strengthen constitutional commissions without specifying how or what additional powers we should cede to them isn’t good enough.

We need full and complete disclosure on the affected commissions – what they have done, or are doing with the powers they have, and what they intend to do with the new powers they are supposed to be given before we can entertain this premature cultic tinkering with constitutional bodies.

Considering the amount of grand corruption that has been devolved to the counties, why should anyone expect Kenyans to give counties more resources without accountability for billions they have mismanaged already? How much more should they get and what is it meant for? Or is the Caliphate simply looking for slush funds for 2017?

Constitutionally, resources must follow responsibilities or functions. It’s only after additional functions have been legislatively given to counties that more resources can be allocated to them.

But even that can only be justified after having been appropriately costed. This is to prevent mismanagement and waste. It isn’t something The Caliphate can decide for us. Everyone knows that Raila only wants power and resources. But a partisan referendum isn’t the legitimate route for such quests.

Those burning with political ambitions should look for power through the ballot. There are many legitimate sources of money that The Paramount Chief can access.

A referendum is an instrument for the average citizens to address intractable societal problems. More importantly, before getting all worked up about the reasons for and, or, mechanics of holding a national referendum, we – the Majestic People of Luo Nyanza – demand and deserve to hold an Extraordinary Regional Dialogue (ERD) with The Odinga Caliphate in order to settle three burning issues. The first issue is the introduction, entrenchment and practice of multiparty democracy in Luo Nyanza.

This is critical. For more than three decades, we have been suffering under the yoke of The Odinga Caliphate. Luo Nyanza is the only region in Kenya where multiparty democracy has never been practised.

The Caliphate whimsically handpicks candidates for party and all elective positions. Since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in Kenya more than 20 years ago, Luo Nyanza has never experienced political freedom.

Our once thriving and dynamic culture has remained stagnant and transfixed on the chimera of one man’s political ambitions. For about 25 years, Luos have been forcefully herded or intimidated into one cult after another by The Paramount Chief.

The sole purpose is for the continued domination and control of Luo Nyanza politics, as a means of livelihood by The Caliphate and to propel The Paramount Chief to glory.

Any resistance to these parochial objectives has been met with violence from the Men in Black and other Caliphate goons. The second substantive issue is the introduction, planning and implementation of a democratic leadership culture and mechanisms for leadership transition in Luo Nyanza.

This entails inculcating and promoting an egalitarian culture that will encourage, inspire and support leadership based on fundamental values and qualities such as integrity, hard work, transparency, accountability and collegiality.

Luos – who were once the envy of Africa by the way we robustly exercised internal democracy in all decisions affecting us, vibrantly debated all public issues, and actively engaged in diverse productive endeavours in academia, the professions, the arts, science, technology and business enterprises.

Yet for more than 30 years now, we have been reduced to artifacts from antiquity. Our economy has been at the ICU for close to 40 years We do not inspire local institutions of higher learning, trade unions, student politics and intellectual discourses with insightful ideas and rigour.

We cannot provide leadership because even our council of elders have been handpicked by the Paramount Chief. No Luo – educated or illiterate – seem unwilling or unable to engage in anything substantive without the approval of the Paramount Chief.

This situation must change. Consequently, the dialogue I’m proposing is intended to demystify, deconstruct and delegitimise the prevailing culture of leadership based on genetics.

The principal focus would be to allow everyone to have equal access to leadership positions based solely on their efforts, demonstrated abilities and genuine – not contrived – popular support.

At the end of the dialogue session, we intend to inculcate a leadership culture where positions of responsibility and privilege – not power – are earned through deeds or provable performance, integrity and vision. Leadership will be earned.

Ascension will be organic – not staged through rigged or manipulated Caliphate nominations. Mythology will have no place in transitions; only solid and verifiable records. The third main agenda will be to unveil an Economic Recovery Plan for Luo Nyanza (ERP). This ERP must be multi-pronged.

The first prong will consist of Luo billionaires, millionaires, business people, entrepreneurs, professionals and workers initiating and funding – as a group – at least three income generating enterprises in fishing, agriculture and ICT, which are cumulatively capable of employing at least 300,000 people at their commencements. We shall reconstruct all the infrastructure and enterprises neglected or destroyed by The Caliphate.

The second prong will comprise of sourcing of funds from specific wealthy individuals such as our foreign friends, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. We will expect that the very few wealthy Luo billionaires like Raila Odinga, Evans Kidero, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Sammy Wakiaga, Hezron Awiti Bolo, Eric Opon Nyamunga, Raphael Tuju and Edwin Yinda (isn’t this a pathetic number for billionaires none of whom is a true entrepreneur?) would dig deep into their pockets and liberally use their rolodexes to attract finance from wealthy friends, business associates and funders in order to make these initiatives a success.

The third prong involves attracting resources from the national government, especially from President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and their rich colleagues, business associates and funders. This is the time for the Jubilee administration and its supporters to demonstrate bipartisanship, good will, good neighbourliness and inclusivity. Helping us build roads, schools, hospitals, factories and regenerate other economic activities will demonstrate their support. We must create employment for the youth. This cannot wait.

Finally – and this is a huge one – we should use this opportunity to invite our most celebrated achiever, President Barack Obama to visit Kenya and preside over the launch of the ERP. This is the excuse Obama has been waiting for to visit Kenya, the land of his father and ancestors, before he relinquishes the title of ‘the most powerful man in the face of the earth’ in less than two year.

For me, this would be a more prudent use of time for the Paramount Chief than the national referendum hoopla. Instead of wasting billions traversing Kenya and clogging our ears with the national referendum song and unleashing his Men-in-Black goons on divergent voices and independent thinkers, Raila must utilise his exaggerated skills to hold a dialogue for the empowerment of his people, the Luo.

This is the best chance he has to audition his vision, managerial and leadership skills to us before taking the dance on national audition. He has blown all the other chances. It’s time for Raila to prove to us – Luos – that he was serious when he called for national dialogue with the Jubilee leadership. It’s also time for him to demonstrate that he cares about the sorry conditions of his people.

Charity begins at home! If Raila and The Odinga Caliphate refuse to agree to this Extraordinary Regional Dialogue within 20 days from today’s date, we will have no option but to call a referendum on The Odinga Caliphate. The storms are gathering!

Mr Miguna Miguna is a lawyer and author of Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya and Kidneys for the King: Deforming the Status Quo in Kenya.

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