Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Without trust, Mr Odinga is going nowhere

Raila Amolo Odinga is a colossus. It is immaterial that some of us think that he is over the hill, past his prime. He remains the most consequential politician and political leader this country hs experienced since his late father, Jaramogi, passed away. One can no longer wish away Mr Odinga as one could stop breathing. We can count on one hand the politicians and political leaders who have a made a genuine difference in Kenya, whether for good or for bad, and that list shall be incomplete if it does not have Mr Odinga on it.

The Supreme Court, after weighing the evidence adduced before it, determined that William Ruto was duly elected as the fifth president of Kenya. The road to this determination is not a tortuous one. Mr Odinga shook hands with Uhuru Kenyatta and buried the hatchet of the 2017 presidential election, which Mr Odinga refused to accept. Mr Kenyatta thereafter sidelined Mr Ruto, his deputy president, and embarked on a harebrained scheme to change the constitution. Mr Ruto joined hands with disgruntled Mt Kenya politicians which sustained him through four years of unfortunate treatment at the hands of his principal. When the presidential election was held, Mr Odinga was treated as the Government because of the support he received from Uhuru Kenyatta and his officials, and Mr Ruto, the sitting deputy president, was treated as the underdog, a role he played up all through.

It is common knowledge that Mr Ruto ran a well-organised presidential campaign; the discipline in his ranks was remarkable. Mr Odinga, on the other hand, never truly appeared to be the captain of his ship. First, it took him and Mr Kenyatta wasted weeks to get Mr Kalonzo Musyoka onside. Thereafter, it was never clear who was the one in charge: Mr Kenyatta or Mr Odinga. Rumours continue to swirl, that even on the day of the presidential election, Mr Odinga's team did not have a unified list of poll station observers. Indeed, things were so bad that Ms Martha Karua, Mr Odinga's running mate, could not even muster a good showing in her Gichugu, Kirinyaga, constituency. Mr Odinga alleges that rather than poor preparation and execution of plans on election day, it is Mr Ruto's campaign that subverted the will of the people by interfering with election processes, particularly the electronic transmission and tallying system, stealing votes from Mr Odinga and allocating them to Mr Ruto. The proof that Mr Odinga adduced before the Supreme Court was dismissed as mere "hot air". He has, since the judgment, maintained the righteousness of his claims and he seems, today, to have found a whistleblower willing to back his allegations.

Wahenga husema, "You will know them by the company they keep". Mr Odinga keeps some very dubious company. The positions they have adopted, and the actions they have undertaken, ostensibly in his name, have had negative externalities, as the economists say. They alienated voters by their braggadocio. They strutted around with their noses in their air safe in the knowledge that the "system", for once, was on their side. They took the voters for granted and as a result, peppered their pronouncements and announcements with condescending and pejorative language that, in effect, told us to know our place, not question the dubious use of state resources for their benefit, or the secretive relationships among and between them. While many of us are disappointed that Mr Odinga was not elected, very few of us actually sympathise with his plight, never mind the crowds that still flock to his rallies.

Mr Odinga is a colossus. But that is meaningless if he surrounds himself with political and intellectual pygmies, places his trust in slothful chancers and scallywags, and embarks on change-the-constitution adventures filled with evil designs for the people he seeks to govern. It may very well turn out that the whistleblower has spoken the truth and that his evidence is verifiable. But it doesn't matter so long as Mr Odinga's trust deficit with the vast majority of Kenyas remains so wide. Without us, the people, his claims are not worth more than a bucket of warm spit.

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