Kenya’s latest efforts to sanitise national leadership and democracy and enhance inclusivity must and will succeed.
However, unfettered nationwide support is key. We also need to confront the evils of negative ethnicity and corruption that always ravage presidential elections.
The circuses have turned the Presidency into the most divisive national office and a threat to Kenya’s nationhood. Resultant toxic outcomes have greatly undermined national cohesion and stifled development efforts.
The Building Bridges Initiative is a strategic undertaking to decontaminate the country’s politics and leadership.
As explained by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the BBI was necessitated by the risky circumstances of the 2017 presidential elections. The poisoned atmosphere it generated almost caused a national implosion and a destructive civil war. It rekindled chilling memories of the 2007-08 post-election violence.
We thus got duty bound to initiate peace building and national reconciliation efforts alongside far reaching political reforms to re-order the architecture and practice of our national politics. Hence the BBI task force and the raging debate about a possible referendum to change the structure of the Executive.
On this delicate journey, we cannot fail to address the place of the Odinga family and the emotive question of the Luo community in Kenyans struggles for inclusivity, constitutionalism, human rights, true democracy, political freedoms, civil liberties and the rule of law. Raila and his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, have consistently put up long, brave pro-wananchi fights, despite chilling threats to their security, life and political careers.
Like is Kenyan political practice, influential leaders draw massive and ready support from their ethnic communities. The Luo Nation risked their all to support the Odinga’s over the years. That steadfastness amidst adversity is a statement of bravery, utmost patriotism and sacrifice by a people and a family. They should be appreciated by all.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s current magnanimity towards Raila, the Odinga family and the Luo nation in pursuit of the BBI is very commendable. His recent visit to Kisumu, initiation of development projects and historical visit, including paying homage to the late Oginga Odinga’s Mausoleum at Kang’o ka Jaramogi, for which he ordered state funding for its maintenance as a national monument, are commendable gestures towards national reconciliation.
Consequently, there is a very strong case for the country to once more rally behind Raila Odinga for the country’s presidency come 2022. ODM officials and supporters should come together and compel Raila to be our candidate. This is a patriotic duty, because the country still needs his services and unmatched charismatic leadership.
Despite the emergence of many other political leaders and players forcefully fighting to ascend to power, Raila stands taller. He remains the undisputed paragon of the struggle for reforms, governance and economic transformation of Kenya and mentorship to cadres of Kenya’s future leadership.
It is only logical to allow such an architect of a major socio-political transformation to launch, and wean it to full operation before handing to the next handlers.
Kenyans had a strong team in NASA going into the 2017 election, which should be maintained. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and his ANC counterpart Musalia Mudavadi would still form a credible supporting cast to a 2022 Raila presidential bid and serve crucial roles in the subsequent government to unite and transform the country.
Serious and mature democracies elevate consistent patriots and performers to the pinnacle of national leadership as opposed to politicians driven by ego, ethnicity or commercial politics. This is because national leadership is about the collective wellbeing of all citizens and not partisan and discriminative victories against fellow citizens. This is a political philosophy Raila cannot be faulted on.
It is dishonest for some to dismiss Raila’s continued relevance in national leadership, especially because of his advancing age. Some of the most exemplary leaders of the world uplifted their countries while in their twilight years. These include Jomo Kenyatta, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Britain’s Sir Winston Churchill and today Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is 92.
Anti-Raila forces should know no self-respecting nations undermine their national heroes, especially they are striving to uplift the welfare of the citizenry.
If anything, DP William Ruto and his disciples have a lot of political learning and maturing under Raila’s pupilage. Otherwise, their ego driven pursuit of the presidency can leave the country with an erratic, shaky regime if they got their way.