Friday, 3 January 2014
A Word of Advice to Raila Odinga
By William Makora; January 2, 2014
As the year 2014 steps in, I earnestly feel obliged to share a short thought of the year with former Prime Minister and Leader of Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, Rt. Hon Raila Amolo Odinga.
You have begun a very tricky year in your occupation as a political leader. The period of sympathy when Kenyans felt you were pushed away from entering the gates of power is not dead by chance but change of calendar. No one really commiserates your loss any longer. Kenyans see you as Raila, the civilian (ordinary) opposition leader. That makes it tricky for survival of your career as not many citizens sit in the seats of opposition but move with those who match on along that path of changing orders.
Change is rest
In more than three decades, you have thrived as either antagonist or protagonist, owing to respective positions you took. Majority of Kenyans have penned your activities on their note books. Some have titled the books; Democracy, and given them to you. Some have christened their notes; Author of change, scripting that your courage to push for democratic space paid off to significant gains in the nation. Yet others who have held you with derision have taken you for a defiant despot who believes only on himself. That earns your viewers categories outlined by former Vice President, the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana; Raila-mania and Raila-phobia.
Apart from first ten years which you spent in dumb detentions, half of the period put you in light of government policy influence after having joined Kanu in 1998 and forming government with Kibaki in 2002. You worked together till your defeat by Uhuru Kenyatta in March last year. That gave Kenyans a chance to see both sides of the coin. It thereby left them without dreams about Raila the politician and the leader.
Period between your exit from power last year and today, you have spent your time either out of the country, on visits, or inside the country, campaigning in by-elections or leisurely at football matches. You have joined President Uhuru openly in condoling Kenyans and condemning terrorists’ attacks on Westgate; and secretly, on controversial contraction and construction of First Standard Gauge Railway which he commissioned around close of year 2013. Kenyans are waiting for what else Raila can do in the rest of his days, especially, on economic fronts. A change is as good as a rest.
Luo Nyanza is a place of people with leadership abilities. Spanning a long period of time, the region in the south-west of Kenya has had iconic leaders who include Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Argwengs K’Odhek, Achieng’ Oneko, Robert Ouko, Hezekiah Oyugi, Oloo Aringo, Raila Odinga, Dalmus Otieno, James Orengo among others. Under the current Constitution, the area is raising a host of leaders as Governors. They include Evans Kidero, Cyprian Awiti among others. Of all the five Luo Governors, only Kidero serves outside the area. He is the Governor of the Capital City of Kenya, Nairobi.
Even though Kidero heads Nairobi, the Governor has had his attention close to needs of his homeland people. He has highly successfully responded to a number of invitations to help raise funds for development projects where he helped realize tens of million shillings. This has not gone well with your team, Raila. Typically, you have not publicly reacted but your associates have not spared it fuels of criticisms and condemnations, sardonically citing Kidero as a ‘project used by Raila’s enemies to undermine him’. How can that be?! Kidero hails from South and you, Central Nyanza. Yet you have wedged such wars before, cutting rising leaders into pieces!
If you, Raila, still want power, your age and health do not limit you. You are a leader who still commands much respect and support from many Kenyans and the rest of the world. You enjoy a democratic and constitutional right to vie for power in the nation. If you want to go for it you must scheme for it in time. If you wait until the eleventh hour, like you did in your last attempt, you will be wasting (not only your time but also) Kenyans’ time.
And if that ambition stands as you, Raila, declared it last year, you are not expected to retreat homewards as you seem to do. That stands as an early blunder since you have a wider constituency to attend to. Though you usually represented Lang’ata Constituency in parliament, your voters span beyond Nyanza where your henchmen enjoy a platform put to malign and lynch leaders believed to be smarter. That does not dismiss the fact that Nyanza, your home area, is your backdrop though.
You, Raila, may begin to feel threatened in Nyanza but you must be prepared to handle it carefully. It should never turn as volatile as it was between your father, central, and Mboya, south. This time round it may be other way round. You may not survive it. You may lose it and lose your face altogether. Kidero’s brand of leadership is modern; the one that, not only the people of Nyanza wants but also Kenyans. If you play it carelessly in a blind bid to galvanize Nyanza as before, you may close the year regretting it. Luo-Nyanza is bigger than Luo-Lang’ata.
On the contrary, you, Raila and Kidero may embrace one another and work towards realizing growth and development of the people. That will be the wise man’s work.