By Micah Kigen
Deputy President William Ruto’s advisers have a big job on their hands. They should swing into action and counsel him out of his belligerence and opposition to emerging plans to re-unite and rejuvenate the country, spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Amollo Odinga.
Sound wisdom demands that all Kenyans of goodwill fully support the “nation-healing” handshake by the two leaders. It injected a new lease of life and fresh hope into our hitherto battered nation.
H.E Raila Odinga’s now famous visit to Kabarak to pay homage to retired President Daniel Arap Moi increased hopes that the handshake is getting support and further endorsement from other strategic players in our national politics.
In the run up to the historical move, the country was on tenterhooks with all sectors of the economy, politics and social life crumbling and tottering on the brink. The economy was at its lowest, government was reported to be running bankrupt, investors were fleeing while others were with-holding their business capitation and the tourism sector was on its knees.
With the public sector in a spiraling crisis due to widespread salary delays and workers’ unrests demanding for implementation of overdue Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) driving the government to becoming dysfunctional and over 60% of the population angry and feeling sidelined from participating in the political and economic affairs of the country, the rapprochement by the two leaders came as a Godsend. A patriotic decision, indeed.
The deputy President must wake up to reality and support his boss and Mr Odinga. The level of bitterness and ethnic animosity the 2017 elections had bred in our country was extreme and very destructive. Something had to be done to cool tempers and bring peace and harmony back to the country.
The gradually disappearing agitation for secession was not idle talk. It could bloom and tear the country apart. History records show that some secession crusades degenerate into bloody and endless civil wars. More powerful and economically superior countries than Kenya have suffered this fate and disintegrated or drowned into pitiful endless civil wars because their leaders stuck to arrogance and selfish pursuits in the face of threatening differences within their citizenry. Examples include the former Soviet Union, Somalia, old Ethiopia, Rwanda, old Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the USA civil war, Biafra War in Nigeria and the Angola Civil War (Unita versus Government).
Kenya can’t afford such an expensive fallout when we can make peace with each other and leave together in harmony and prosper together. We are a developing country with a fragile economy that depends of peaceful co-existence and harmony of the citizens for government to operate to its optimum and facilitate growth and prosperity.
DP Ruto should spare the country his overzealous obsession with succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta when he retires in 2022. What will be there for him to inherit if the 2017 elections generated bad blood degenerates into civil strife and a total breakdown of law and order? Zilch!
Who told him he is the only Kenyan politician eying the 2022 opportunity to go to State House? Surely, as much as he and his loyal supporters believe he is best placed to rise to the Presidency, there are many other able Kenyans plotting and canvassing for the same trophy. But bottom-line is that they must get a stable, united country to inherit and preside over.
To quote the late Professor George Saitoti (RIP): “There comes a time when the country is more important than an individual.” Mr Ruto should adopt that attitude immediately.
His reported opposition to any indications of amending the constitution to restructure the executive so as to accommodate more leaders and construct the face of Kenya in national leadership to mainstream fairness and ethnic inclusivity is not only selfish but unpatriotic. Patriots should at all times be ready to sacrifice in word and actions for their country. And one aspiring to become a President of his country should have patriotism as the biggest of his attributes.
More importantly, Mr Ruto and his supporters should put themselves in the shoes of the majority millions of Kenyans who have been feeling forcefully and unfairly sidelined from participating in governance and economic steering affairs of this country. When between 2002-2007 people in his support base were similarly treated and felt sidelined has he forgotten the anger that degenerated into the Post-Election Violence, the subsequent humanitarian crises, the shame it brought the country and the aftermath? Can any right thinking Kenyan want other Kenyans to resort to such desperate measures to force political accommodation?
DP Ruto and his lieutenants should stop the crusade they have started of badmouthing H.E Odinga and the family of retired President Moi over the handshake and the emerging measures meant to repair our politics and re-unite Kenya. The Church, diplomatic community, trade Unions and majority of elected leaders have supported it. Majority of the citizens too. They cannot all be mad!
ELKEIYO MARAKWET COUNTY ODM CHAIRMAN