President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at past media briefing. Picture courtesy of Capital FM
By Rashid Wanjala
A few weeks ago I observed that Raila and ODM will be more resurgent in 2014. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Itâ€™s Feb 8, and Raila Odinga and ODM are the most talked about political institutions, while Raila remains the fulcrum of Kenyan politics, around which all Kenyan political strategies are crafted. To URP, Ruto will run if Raila doesnâ€™t, and to Uhuruâ€™s TNA, the running mate will be picked depending on who Raila picks. Isnâ€™t that what in marketing they call the trend setter?
That the stampede in ODM over party elections has gotten intense media coverage is testament to a party whose in-house election is like an upcoming General Election. Thatâ€™s not a stature of a party thatâ€™s dying or growing unpopular. Itâ€™s the portrait of a party thatâ€™s resurgent. By this point in 2003, Uhuruâ€™s KANU had splintered and most of its members joined Raila after Uhuru Project was defeated in 2002.
Infact the recently doctored Strategic PR poll was bankrolled by elements sympathetic to TNA (no wonder our requests to have them publish disclosures on who financed it are yet to be responded to) was intended to counter the fortunes of a resurgent party ODM which has been in the lips of every news anchor, and the hands of scribes in the mainstream media including the blogosphere.
The Strategic PR poll was published just days after Ipsos Synovate Directors were threatened with the revival of a matter of more than 10 yrs ago in which the company was acquired without the Competition Authority being notified. Jubilee has been in power for 1 yr now, but itâ€™s only after Ipsos did a poll that puts Raila and ODM in a commanding 54% lead, and Cord at 63% that TNA decided to counter that by enlisting the services of Strategic PR, in a poll whose sole intention was to portray Raila and ODM as waning political entities.
How can political heavyweights like Ababu Namwamba, Hassan Joho, Wycliffe Oparanya, Agnes Zani, Joseph Nanok, Paul Otuoma et al be stampeding like hyenas that have smelt meat in the vicinity if ODM was a diminishing political party? Lawyers, PhDs, Drs, Profs, MAs, and LLMs are smart and calculating enough to know a 42 tribe party coalition that is headed to a landslide 3rd time in a row victory in 2017, the last ones being 2007, and 2013.
These ODM party polls have catapulted ODM to the most talked about political party in Kenya today; a party led by the most ideologically suave politician in Kenya, respected in the world over for his clarity of vision to not just matters pertinent to Kenya, but even matters that are important to the greater progressive movement around the world.
And it is this foresight and Mandelaisque persona displayed by Jakom that earned him a place as the keynote speaker to the star studded Liberal International Convention attended by the whoâ€™s who. Railaâ€™s diary is fully booked. The Liberal International invited him to open its convention held in South Africabecause with Mandela gone, Raila is now the most celebrated African visionary who has gotten it right on matters that the world Liberal movement cares deeply about.
And the ongoing Sikh Monument debacle has portrayed vintage Raila as a leader who can stand up to his people when they are wrong and avoid the temptation of playing to the gallery. Â Raila wonâ€™t mislead the masses to do mischief even when itâ€™s politically expedient to do so.
The persuasive leader appeared to say â€œI donâ€™t worship, wont bow before your â€œgodâ€ but will respect and uphold your dignity and respect to worship the god of your choice, but I will seek a way out, if in the expression of your religious rights public peace and harmony will be affectedâ€.
Thatâ€™s a perfect mix of Jeremy Benthamâ€™s Utilitarianism and Immanuel Kantâ€™s deontological ethics. That yes I will be consistent because am guided by certain progressive principles, and live with the consequences, but I will also seek a middle ground solution that addresses the concerns of the â€œgreatest numberâ€ of disparate parties.
Thatâ€™s what leadership is. Standing firm for whatâ€™s right, and even paying the media consequences for it, even when the political cost is too high. Raila is the man in whom Eldorobos, Jemps and even Kikuyus alike can entrust their lives to. A once in a lifetime political leader willing to rise above the ethnic chauvinism of his ODM Luo Nyanza leaders in embrace of a national image for the nationâ€™s single largest political and most national party, ODM. A leader who can not only unite the nation but also defend the rights of the minority Sikh population even when it means losing his own base political support. A leader whose election to office for 2 consecutive terms has been vetoed by the incumbency, but still accepted to move on in the interest of peaceâ€¦who else can have a larger than life heart like you Agwambo? Can any other leader ready to pay the price for consistency, like Raila Amolo Odinga, please stand up? Zero! Watch this space
Rashid Wanjala- Canadian Based Legal Analyst