Raila Odinga should really cut short his Boston trip and hurry home; members of the National Assembly are losing their damn minds. The Jubilee side of the aisle misses their favourite punching bag and they are now manufacturing reasons to drag his name into parliamentary debate. The CORD, on the other hand, is rudderless; without his firm hand, its members are incapable of stringing a political sentence together without annoying each other.
On the 24th April, the National Assembly, by this blogger's count, spent approximately a hour debating whether Raila Odinga was a "retired head of state" because the programme he was attending at the Boston University in the United States is reserved "mainly for former heads of state." Kirinyaga MP Joseph Gitari (TNA) is confused about the status of Kenya's former Prime Minister; he wants the Majority Leader to clear the air about the status of the former Prime Minister of Kenya.
Mr Gitari epitomises the intellectual rot afflicting the National Assembly today. Kenya is in the midst of s grueling transition; bits of the North West, including Turkana, West Pokot and the Western edges of Marsabit are in the midst of a serious famine; terror attacks have become the order of the day, the latest atrocity being the bombing of a Pangani Police Station in Nairobi; the cost of living is squeezing the savings of everyone, especially the middle and working classes; and corruption seems to stalk every major capital project of the Jubilee administration.
Parliament has completely abdicated its role in overseeing the National Executive. Rather than debate the wheres and wherebys of the problems bedeviling the country, the likes of Mr Gitari and his counterparts in CORD are unable to turn their minds away from Raila Odinga in order to focus on the things that will make the lives of their constituents better. This is the budget-making period and it boggles the mind that rather than taking into consideration the suffering of Kenyans because of the aftershocks of the implementation of the VAT Act, 2013, the National Assembly is hell-bent in refusing to acknowledge that it has bigger fish to fry than whether Raila Odinga is or is not "a former head of state."
Members of the National Assembly are politicians; it is impossible to imagine that they will never politick with Raila Odinga's name. But one would expect that its members would at least highlight the good work they are engaged in to improve the economy, better train and equip the police, ensure that famine and drought are mitigated, and enhance the capacity of the country to face economic and security challenges. But given that nearly all of them were elected on the back of their presidential candidates' campaigns, and that nearly all of them have the intellectual heft of a feather, it is, perhaps, asking too much of them to think before they introduce certain Questions in the Order Paper.