• Were it not for Raila and other champions of multiparty democracy, Kenyans would probably not enjoy the safe space for free speech and expression that they do today.
•The engineer from Bondo has proved in his own actions that he believes in the validity of every Kenyan, regardless of tribe, religion, or social status.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure at the helm of the country’s leadership draws to a close as we approach the next general election.
Having led Kenya to the adoption of the new constitutional order, landmarked by devolution, grassroots development and unprecedented infrastructural expansion, Kenyans are keen to replace him with a leader who will guide Kenya to the new economic order and build on the current gains. Opposition chief Raila Amollo Odinga provides an easy and best choice for this role.
Raila has been a household name in Kenya for decades. This is because of his political activity in the country since the 1980s. He is rightfully taunted as the second father of multiparty democracy after the late Kenneth Matiba.
Were it not for him and other champions of multiparty democracy, Kenyans would probably not enjoy the safe space for free speech and expression that they do today.
Raila and opposition leaders of the past like Matiba, his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kiraitu Murungi, among many others, aggressively fought the oppressive rule of autocrat late President Moi with zeal and vigor and ultimately led to the repealing of Section 2A of the Independence constitution.
Repealing of Section 2A saw the return of multiparty democracy in Kenya, which gave Kenyans a chance to freely chart their political path. Political activism is, however, not the only score on Raila’s card.
The engineer from Bondo has proved in his own actions that he believes in the validity of every Kenyan, regardless of tribe, religion, or social status. In 2002, he threw his weight behind then-opposition figure Mwai Kibaki for the presidency. He shelved his own ambitions and supported a man who is among the best presidents in the country’s history.
At the time, Kibaki picked Michael Kijana Wamalwa as his running mate. When Kibaki had an accident, Raila Odinga led the “Kibaki Tosha” campaigns country-wide while Kibaki sought treatment abroad. He did not demand a running-mate position that could have matched his national popularity. He went along with what was best for the country. Kibaki’s presidency saw a magnificent turnaround of the country in all spheres.
The Junior Odinga was the minister of Roads and Public Works in the first Kibaki Cabinet, again, arguably the most effective Cabinet minister in Kenya’s history.
During his tenure at the ministry, he laid the foundation for the infrastructural expansion that Kenya witnessed during the Kibaki presidency. The most notable infrastructural projects in Kenya were done by the coalition government, run by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila.
The Thika superhighway, a signature transport corridor in Nairobi and the region was built between 2009 and 2012. The highway transformed the economic status of the region by easing the movement of goods and people.
Consequently, the area along and around the highway has recorded unprecedented growth and development, improving the livelihoods of millions of people.
Following the violence that marred the country following the contested results of the 2007 election, Raila and President Kibaki agreed to put the country first and form the coalition government.
The economy, which had taken a beating during the violence, slowly picked up momentum and the decline in growth was reversed given the strategies and interventions of the grand coalition government.
At this time, when the entire world is reeling from the economic ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya is also struggling to recover from the negative impacts of the pandemic on its own economy. Raila is the best man to apply his past experience to lead the country on continued economic recovery, and into the new economic order post-Covid-19.
Raila presents the best package possible in a single man to take over the leadership of this great nation. He is a statesman, a man who believes in a united peaceful country that is home for all Kenyans. He has the international recognition, respect and exposure that will enable him to ensure that Kenya plays favourably in the global arena.
That he was appointed the continental high representative for infrastructure development means that his passion for development is acknowledged even beyond our borders. This is overwhelming assurance that President Raila would get development cooperation for the country from economic muscles the world over.
Development will increase revenue for the country and citizens will be empowered economically, hence livelihoods will be improved. Given the names that have declared their interest in the presidency so far, it’s safer to point out that Kenya and Kenyans will be safer in the hands of the son of Bondo as the next president.