Â By Kwamchetsi Makokha
Opinion polls almost make the next presidential election in Kenya moot.
President Uhuru Kenyattaâ€™s runaway popularity sets him a new challenge that should motivate him to complete the numerous ambitious development programmes he has already launched.
It is already clear that by 2022, the first generation of children who receive a free laptop on joining Standard One will not yet be ready to be digitally tested in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations.
The roads network and port envisioned under the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project will just be getting completed. The standard gauge railway will have reached the border with Uganda, but the trains will still be on the way from China. The Great Security Wall between Kenya and Somalia will be a few kilometres short of reaching Mandera.
Delivery on these gargantuan projects cannot be left to chance, hence the need to prepare for a third term.
A third presidential term has become accepted as an African solution to an African problem. Out in Togo, President Faure Gnassingbe was recently re-elected again and President Yahya Jammeh is serving a third term in Gambia, bringing healing to people afflicted by pestilence and disease.
Nine countries in Africa have no provision for how long a leader can stay in power, while another 11 have successfully repealed term limits.
Countries that wait too late in the day to initiate discussions on this African practice often go to seed. Burkina Faso is a recent example, but Kenya is also surrounded by nations that deal with the term as a last-minute issue. While the surprise element mirthfully consternates the opposition, it also brews political storms that derail stability and undermine progress.
Yet, last-minute attempts to secure a third term have often floundered in Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi, leaving those nations leaderless and bereft of guidance. Africa needs to speak loudly and with one voice at the African Union Summit in South Africa â€” and only one man can lead it in doing so.
By leaving third-term matters too late, Burundiâ€™s opposition sharpened their teeth in the expectation that President Pierre Nkurunziza would retire at the age of 52. In Rwanda, there have been recent hallucinations about President Paul Kagame retiring at the age of 57.
It is not unimaginable that some people are declining to accept their retirement benefits in the hope that President Uhuru will call it a day at the age of 62. They must be disabused of their daydreams.
The insistence on a two-term limit for popular African heads of state is a foreign idea â€” first, the number two is the symbol of division and strife that only breeds conflict. In Africa, it is not propitious to do things in twos. African traditions, where they allow for counting, insist on three â€” cooking stones, three wishes; three chances; sky, earth and sea. Africansâ€™ beliefs around the number three are reinforced by the Holy Trinity.
Kenyaâ€™s President is a man much loved and respected at the African Union for his vision for Africa, his commitment to African solidarity and his penchant for putting his money where his mouth is â€” a million dollars to fight Ebola, another million to support the African Court of Justice and another million dollars to information communication technology in two years.
Although the President had indicated that he would cede power to the Deputy President, Mr William Ruto, who is a tender 48, by the time he succeeds the President in 2027, he will be only 61. All the current pretenders to the presidency will have signed the necessary papers to begin receiving their retirement benefits. Terms and conditions apply.
This article first appeared on Daily Nation