April 8, 2012 Mad Hatter

CAGED BY AMBITION: WHY ODINGA’S PRESIDENCY MIGHT NOT OFFER MUCH

ODINGA WIPES A TEAR, FRUSTRATED BY A FRAUD HIT ELECTIONS

“Raila appears as largely inconclusive, incapable of being an effective manager as you would expect the next Chief Executive to be. With mega and ambitious projects hitting the economy, you need a president who yes, is politically responsive, but equally has the organizational capacity to hold all the facets of the country in coordination.  Odinga might be lacking this.”


 

A caption of a desperately irate Odinga has done multiple circulations on the internet. The man was literally crying when he saw the presidency snatched from his jaws. He has been chastised by his opponents, but only they that do not know the cost of an ambition would fail to excuse his tears. Losing a presidency, no, being snatched off a presidency would touch the core of a man, excusably; it would bring anyone to tears.

Raila Amolo Odinga is a name that both foe and friend concede to its magnanimity. You would call him an Enigma, indeed the man has been a mystery. Emerging, into prominence as a pro reform democrat, accepting to be caged six times in the struggle for political pluralism,

and later, as if to show that he was the figurative TINGA, leaving a trail of destruction as he ascended into becoming Kenya’s most influential politician.

I doubt whether Kenya shall ever get a man both adored and hated in the same measure. A man you will hate to admit that he is influential. Whose statements shake the core of the Kenyan politics?

But in all these, how true has Odinga’s quest been to the tenets he proclaims to hold?  Has the intricate of politics sapped the passion of reform in this man to let him become a mere agent of convenience? Would Raila today, accept to be detained for Democracy?

After the annihilation of FORD-K, Raila moved out to form NDP on whose ticket he contended for the Presidency in 1997. The 1997 was the first election where the KANU absolutism was largely diluted. The then President, MOI knew for his to survive, he would have to merge with the opposition in a way.

Of all persons, Moi sought the company of Odinga. A man he had wanted to sap life out of him, but the strangest of all things, Odinga accepted, and NDP merged with KANU to give the government a lifeline in parliament. Raila became the Secretary General of the cockerel party and a minister of Energy then. The opposition felt betrayed, Moi felt relieved, Raila felt strategic.

As the 2002 elections drew closer, Moi realized the prominence Odinga had assumed. He would be a true contender of the Presidency. This could not be allowed. And Uhuru was nominated as an MP and elevated to be both a minister of Local Government and one of the four deputy chairmen of KANU. Finally, there came the declaration; Uhuru would be Moi’s favored successor.

The man, Raila, occasioned a mass exodus. There came the Liberal Democratic Party, which had all the KANU trusted lieutenants, Kalonzo who for over a decade had been the Foreign Affairs minister charged with spicing the hideous image of the regime, Saitoti, Kenya’s longest serving VP. KANU was brought to its knees.

LDP would later merge with N

AK to form the rainbow Euphoria NARC. Then the Uhuru park Declaration of Kibaki Tosha; this annihilated KANU and handed Kibaki the presidency. Then, Wamalwa coined, Railaphobia, a phenomena that captured the extend Odinga’s presence elicited fear.

True, opponents of Raila can only be relatively at ease when he speaks. He is a man shrouded in suspicion, a man whose purest of intention would be scrutinized to the tiniest of its fibers.

Pollsters have rightly placed him as a front runner in the forthcoming elections. Haunted by endless fallouts with allies now turned foes, maintaining the lead must have been the toughest of all assignments.

But, as a man, would Odinga be a good president? Would his presidency deliver the expectations that it is likely to bring forth. Is Odinga a reformist by heart or just a smart politician who sings tunes, sweetest to the electorate’s ear?

It would be ungrateful of someone of my generation to chide his eminent role in democratizing Kenya. But equally, he could bear considerable blame in scuttling the very democracy. Clearly, history says that he stands out, but if occurrences in the recent past are anything to go by, Odinga is a pale shadow of his principled self. He comes forth as a man, keen on realizing an ambition rather than deliver anything substantial to the country.

The Prime Minister Raila Odingtion

Whereas no criminal responsibility has been attached to him, it is prudent to note that ODM in 2007 was never an idea based party, but a conglomerate of interests, largely personal. And that ODM’s approach to the election to a greater extent was founded on “ethnic feelings.” It brought forth those who were striving to regain relevance after being relegated into the cold by the 2002 revolution and those who intended to hand Kibaki a defeat for biting the hand that fed it.

The greatest card on the table was tribal. I would view the pentagon as a group of tribal or regional heads with no compatibility of ideas designed to ensure regions felt like they owned the ODM and would therefore own the presidency. This lack of ideology serves as the greatest reason for the speedy disintegration of the camaraderie.

ODM’s composition betrays what it purported to stand for.  In fact, ODM, in 2007 never embodied any possibility of change whatsoever. It had Ruto, an YK92 baron who took comfort in the bosom of power while reformists strained to liberate the country, Dalmas Otieno, Henry Kosgey, Musalia Mudavadi all trusted lieutenants in the Moi regime.

This would only point to one thing; Raila is capable of joining hands with however, as long as his chances are furthered. Otherwise, why would Carol Omondi, be such a trusted lieutenant when he was against reforms as part of the YK92.

Today, Raila Odinga’s official facebook page has these words boldly embodied, “CHANGE IS COMING”. This is a fallacy, the best Odinga can offer today is continuity, not change. He has the baggage of incumbency and the failures of the coalition government lie as strongly on him as they do on Kibaki.

Born within the ruling elite, he is a master of the art of governance, and after the miscarriage in 2007; he became even an ardent disciple of the lessons of power. He understood that you negotiate for power not just with the masses, but with the instruments that tilt “real power.”

He has done this pretty well, look at the Prime Minister’s round table with manufacturers and industry heads deliberate to dispel notions that he was a socialist who would infringe on tenets of free enterprise and threaten private investment. It is understood, that one thing that could have embolden the regime in 2007 was the fact that Kibaki was in the “good books” of the moneyed in the country.

The greatest concern though would be Odinga’s ability to deliver in the new dispensation. While he accuses his opponents of being incapable to work with a constitution they opposed, he has not come forth as an objective defender of the document save where he has a chance to flex his power as a result of; “in consultation with the prime minister” provision.

Before postulating on an Odinga presidency, let us regard his performance as a Prime Minister. While this gives him the status of a principal, we appreciate that all things were against him. Largely Odinga has maintained his role as the opposition. Sometimes his efforts have hit by sabotage from the PNU camp, but to date, he might be incapable of having anything to show as a Prime Minister.

His office has prominently featured in the Mau Conservation efforts, Kazi Kwa Vijana Initiative and the Elder care initiatives. While the Elder people care initiative has realized a reasonable success, the other two have not.

The Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative was dogged by multiple claims of inefficiency. While his office was absolved from any misappropriation, the fact that the program has not realized its intentions stands out. While his stance on Mau earned him credit as a man who would sacrifice his political fortunes for a noble cause, time has eroded this assumption. He actually succumbed to the fear of being tagged anti-Kalenjin and has dragged in the later stage of ridding the tower off invaders.

His involvement in national strikes have largely flopped, may be since he lacked capacity, in terms of proposing a comprehensive solution, but this serves to make him appear as incapable of offering conclusive leadership.

Raila appears as largely inconclusive, incapable of being an effective manager as you would expect the next Chief Executive to be. With mega and ambitious projects hitting the economy, you need a president who yes, is political responsive, but equally has the organizational capacity to hold all the facets of the country in coordination.  Odinga lacks this.

The scandals that have hit his ODM faction of the government, The Maize Scandal, The abuse of Power charges facing Henry Kosgey, The inefficiency in the ministry of Immigration point a finger to a principal who did not know who was in his camp.

I am almost certain, that if Odinga was to taken out of the picture, the office of the Prime Minister would almost be nonexistent. He is a man bigger that the institution, a description that could betray the expectations of the new Constitution.

Odinga, just like the entire ruling elite, is accustomed to a freehand executive. That would explain his demonstrable discomfort with a biting legislature. In the new constitution, all presidential prerogatives as subject to; either, “approval of the National assembly, or would be exercised in accordance with advise from certain committees or commissions.”

As such, for an effective functioning government, you would need a president capable of appreciating this autonomy and able to non-combatively create a working relationship with the other organs. Hi tendencies to pick fights with the legislature and judiciary could see executive efforts frustrated and as such government operations crippled.

This trait attaches to Uhuru. He equally has an amazing discomfort when the parliament flexes its muscle.

While Raila is likely to protect the Constitution, the reality of being president in the new dispensation, the person who time and tradition has shaped Odinga to become, and the expectations of time could conspire to wretch his presidency.

And say, if Raila wins the presidency, it is almost a certainty that he would be eying a second term. He has spend these five years making political calculations, he could do just that again, a first five year term of combative politics; without much to deliver.

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