Hon Ababu Namwamba
MY DREAM FOR OUR CHERISHED PARTY, ODM.
Whether you look north or south of the Sahara, or on either sides of the banks of the Limpopo, the one unmistakable political feature you certainly cannot miss is the grand Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – Kenya’s largest, most widely spread and only true mass political platform anchored on the dreams and aspirations of peoples from all walks of life, ethnicities, regions and religions.
Appropriately born out of Kenyans’ common libertarian struggles and the relentless pursuit for a new constitutional order, our ODM is no ordinary political party. Ours is a shrine where believers and high priests of freedom supplicate and spread the gospel of true democracy.
As Kenyans enjoy devolution, expanded civil liberties and other fruits of the new dispensation, let as applaud the remarkable role of ODM.
Let us honor the valor and sacrifice of all the gallant warriors who have so valiantly led us into battle after battle, war after war, in pursuit of a better Kenya. And none deserves the accolades more than one special libertarian Field Marshal, a democrat, patriot and pan-Africanist per excellence; our indefatigable Party Leader, the Rt. Hon Raila Amolo Odinga, EGH.
John Quincy Adams says if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Jakom has and continues to inspire millions within and beyond our borders, because he is a true leader. I feel humbled and honoured to grow under his watch.
On two consecutive occasions, we have been victims of electoral fraud. But we have not despaired. Each time, like the phoenix, we have risen again, with spirits stronger, the determination firmer. Indeed today, our party has even greater resolve to complete the struggle and deliver the Kenyan dream that has been aborted twice through vile defilement of democracy.
That is why our forthcoming national party elections are so significant. The elections present us with a good opportunity, not to break and rebuild the proud foundations of our party laid eight years ago, but rather to reenergize and refresh the movement by crafting a new blend of leaders, where the wisdom and dreams of the experienced combine with the energy and visions of the youthful to deliver a super combo that can deliver our party and our country to democratic nirvana.
This election is about identifying the best Generals and Commanders to lead our forces of democracy to battle, to ultimate victory in 2017. It is about picking a team to serve, not to be served. A team that will always remind us of these immortal words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of USA: “and so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what you can do for your country.” These elections must give us a team of men and women that on a daily basis ask themselves what they are doing for the party, not what the party is doing for them.
Having consulted widely across the length and breadth of our party. Having evaluated my capacity, abilities and credentials. Having reflected deeply. I have made the decision to offer myself to be considered by esteemed delegates for the now vacant position of Secretary General of our party, ODM.
I do this confident that granted the chance, I would bring the following to the leadership of this party I cherish so deeply:
1. Loyalty and Discipline: I had my first contact with politics as a high school student when I joined the youth volunteers of FORD, then led by our libertarian Godfather, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Since then, and all through my times from LDP to ODM, I have earned unimpeachable stripes as a loyal and disciplined foot soldier. Politics is the modern-day warfare. And no army can win any war without loyalty and discipline. I will seek to put a premium on this in our party.
2. Parliamentary experience: Twice now I have fought and won elections fairly and squarely, with a clear majority. In parliament I have established a respected reputation as an accomplished debater and a fearless defender of the public interest; and held key leadership positions, including: ODM Parliamentary Secretary for the entirety of my first term; Chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee; Co-chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review; and currently Chairman of the crucial Public Accounts Committee. All these experiences will come in handy in the challenging task of steering our party and advising the party leader.
3. Government experience: My stint as a Cabinet Minister gave me firsthand experience of how government works and the management of affairs of state. Indeed I have had the privilege of combining the experience of running a ministry and heading parliamentary oversight. That is a crucial asset in politics, believe me; especially administering the nerve center of a giant party.
4. Valor in Battle: I am battle-hardened in many ways. When our victory was stolen in 2007, I was at the forefront of the resistance to the illegitimate PNU regime. When our party was faced with the crisis of mass desertions by key leaders in 2011-2012, I formed and commanded ODM-Reloaded and later CORD-Effect to help rescue our fortunes. This particularly ring-fenced our turf in Western Kenya, and put up a brave fight in Rift Valley. After the 2013 heartbreak, I was in the thick of things once again, including in the courtroom. I have seen and experienced it all. This is the furnace a leader must go through to mature. And I have been there. As taught by Martin Luther King Jnr. “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. In the face of unspeakable adversity, I have stood firm in my believe that it’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees; because indeed I’d rather live 50 years as a tiger, than 100 years as a chicken!
5. Legal expertise: Am a good lawyer, well trained at the very top level in Nairobi and Washington, DC. This will certainly be an asset in the conundrum of battles that lie ahead. Galileo Galilei says “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” We must place all our endowments at the service of the party. I am ready with the little blessed of me by God.
6. My intimate Knowledge of ODM: I have been involved with our party since it was founded from the battles of the 2005 constitutional referendum. I know exactly what our strengths and challenges are. I know that we must invest in the youth and women planks as the pillars of the party. I know that we have to strengthen our grassroots by dispersing resources from the national secretariat to all our branches. I know that we have to nurture true democracy where members determine who their representatives must be, freely and fairly. I know that we have to firm up our traditional bases, and spread into new territories. I know that we have not exploited the full potential of our vote baskets due to lethargic voter registration and turnout. I know all this, and I want to help make it real.
7. International Connections: I am privileged to have some fantastic international networks that I hope to place at the service of the party and ensure that we are wired to like-minded movements worldwide. This will strengthen our capacity, improve our resource mobilization and give our youth leaders crucial international exposure.
8. A Bridge: My age and experiences make me ideal as a bridge between the younger generation and the older stalwarts of our party.I am old enough to have tasted the defining battles and young enough to feel the aspirations of our youth. Am also very tech-savvy, flexible and accessible.
9. Honours: In 2003 I won the Global Award for social justice from Amsterdam, Holland. In 2009, I was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2012, I was conferred the national honour of Elder of the Golden Heart (EGH). I am ready to serve my party.
Most importantly, I seek to light in the party the spirit of WHY NOT! Famed Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw says: Some people see things that are, and ask why; But I dream of things that never were, and ask why not! Rather than be a party of why, I wish to see us become the party of WHY NOT?
Can the Orange tide rise again and rescue Kenya from this tyranny of KANU reincarnation disguised as Jubilee? WHY NOT!
Can the spirits of our members and the dream of Kenyans for Maisha Bora reignite and soar again? WHAY NOT!
Can Jakom defeat the repeated cynical electoral fraud, romp to State House and lead Kenya to a new dawn? WHY NOT! After all, tough times never last, but tough people do…
Can Generali Ababu Namwamba make a splendid Secretary General? WHY NOT!
If you want to go fast, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others. ODM is a national party. It needs a team with a national face. A team that is competent. A team of men and women who have been tested and proven. No individual, region, religion or ethnicity can do it alone.
My desire is to be part of a team that can carry the hopes of our party to the next level, and give our distinguished party leader that final massive push to Ikulu, where he deserves to be.
On January 10, BC 47, Roman General Julius Caesar, standing on the banks of the Rubicon as he readied his troops to do the unprecedented act of crossing the river and marching on Rome, uttered the stirring words: “Alea iala ecta! (the die is cast!)”.
Today I say the die is cast, and welcome my worthy rivals to a fair contest in the spirit of a friendly game. If you have hit the ground ahead of me, I say form is temporary, but class is permanent.
If you question my readiness, remember the saying “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough”, and the Dwight Eisenhower wisdom: “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” The only favour I seek in this election is the favourable consideration by our honourable party delegates, and a fair playing ground for all aspirants, without regard to region, ethnicity, gender or religion.
Let me conclude with a special tribute to our outgoing Secretary-General, Senator Prof. Peter Anyang Nyong’o, a towering, fearless warrior of the second liberation whose awesome exploits in the trenches of [the] democracy struggles continue to inspire us all. You showed us amazing courage and valor, and gave us the stunning Lupita…Salute Shujaa!
Ababu Namwamba is the MP for Budalangi Constituency