The Rise and Fall of the Grand Mullah
By the Star‘s special correspondent
Flamboyant and controversial Nairobi lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi – known to friend and foe as ‘the Grand Mullah’ – has been a train wreck waiting to happen for a couple of years now.
The first phase of his comeuppance happened at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) elections, where he lost badly in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) component of the polls, in which he was the incumbent representative, against Professor Tom Ojienda.
Ojienda wiped the floor with the jurist Grand Mullah in Kisumu (82-7), Kericho (28-2), Eldoret (77-28), Kisii (33-8), Kitale (27-4) and Mombasa (148-106).
In the Supreme Court stream Ojienda beat Ahmednasir 150-52. In the Milimani Court stream Ojienda downed him 159-85. Ahmednasir beat Ojienda in only two streams, Supreme Court 1 (135-78) and 3 (184-125).
This was an astonishingly poor showing for a man who prides himself on being a multitasking strategist in several sectors, including journalism.
Perceptions are everything and few people know how to package themselves than the self-styled Grand Mullah at his best, which is often his intimidating worst in the eyes of others.
Not since Charles Mugane Njonjoâ€™s heyday as Kenyaâ€™s first African Attorney General and foremost presidential eminence grise has a member of the Kenyan bar flaunted his State House connections with Ahmednasirâ€™s swagger.
And long before President Uhuru Kenyatta entered office, Ahmednasir made judges of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal quake in their boots and lawyers bow and scrape before him.
Even his most ardent critic, Brian Yongo, credits Ahmednasir with being decisive in the appointment of no less a personage as Prof Githu Muigai as Attorney General.
However, not even being allegedly hard-wired to the Uhuru State House could rescue Ahmednasir one Election Day inside the LSK, where talk of massive campaign spending is rife.
His reported ambitions of one day becoming either Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court or Attorney General must now be considered to be irretrievably reduced to ashes.
This is astounding for the man who lectured the Supreme Court as if he were berating errant law school students, even going as far as to caution Dr Willy Mutunga and the other six justices to the effect that a young court should be minimalist in its decisions.
At the end of the day, Ahmednasir turned out to be deficient in everything that mattered â€“ he was naÃ¯ve in political trends and realities; he lacked anything remotely resembling a strategy; and he made many more enemies than friends, a lack of tack that has cost him dearly.
Ahmednasirâ€™s amazing fall has been by his own hand and he has severely embarrassed his friends in the highest places.
His lack of strategy was gruesome. He underestimated his opponent by swallowing his own propaganda whole, always a sign of sheer incompetence, and made all the wrong moves. For instance, his boast that he would take the Kisumu vote by storm turned out to be worse than idle.
Ahmednasir had also boasted he would garner more votes in Kisii than senior counsel Okongo Omogeni.
Compared to LSK chairman Eric Mutua, Ahmednasir had no idea which way he was headed. Speaking to a TV reporter on the day of the vote, Mutua made the prescient remark that â€œunless I am being cheated, I believe I will get 60 per cent of the voteâ€.
Mutua was neither cheated nor did he cheat himself (something that cannot possibly be said of the Grand Mullah) â€“ he got 61 per cent of the vote.
Ahmednasir will likely never impress anyone again, nor intimidate any but the naÃ¯ve. He has run on empty for far too long, fuelled mostly by bluster and bluff and the bludgeon of his flagship publication The Nairobi Law Monthly.
His lack of strategy in his own behalf and inside his own profession is the clearest sign yet that his inflated reputation was swelled by default.
This is an impression that will have consequences. Suddenly, he will find himself increasingly disinvited from the highest profile strategy meetings â€“ legal, political, corporate, you name it.
He will never be able to decorate a presidential strategy team with anything near credibility or value addition, whether the subject is law, politics or electioneering.
Occasions such as President Uhuruâ€™s personal appeal for calm and a dialogue meeting to Ahmednasir, made in the midst of an official speech, will became rare to vanishing point.
One of the moot points that Ahmednasir missed completely in his strategy-free LSK campaign is the fact that the country remains so divided almost a year since the presidential petition taken to the Supreme Court by Raila Odinga and Cord that the vote was going to run along political fault lines.
As things stand now, with the Grand Mullahâ€™s self-created myth smashed to smithereens, the Jubilee Alliance must be deeply worried.
Ahmednasir was wiped out by a split Cord vote up and down the country. Had that vote lined up behind one candidate, he would have been buried in an avalanche defeat.
Where there once was little doubt that Ahmednasir was a liability to the president and his administration, millions, both inside and outside Jubilee, now know this for a fact.
The man cannot help even himself, leave alone the causes and agenda of others. The Grand Mullah is blinkered and rash to a fault, and clearly too often mistakes a rush of adrenalin for a Eureka moment.
The Jubilee-compliant Rift Valley hit him for six, no doubt expressing its displeasure at Ahmednasirâ€™s role in the destruction of Gladys Boss Sholleiâ€™s career at the Judiciary.
The region simply refuses to believe that Shollei was anywhere near as corrupt and incompetent as she was painted by her detractors, Ahmednasir being the foremost among them.
One measure of the steepness of the Grand Mullahâ€™s fall will no doubt be reflected in the editorial stance of the Nairobi Law Monthly and the content of his regular column in the Sunday Nation newspaper.
The further away State House distances itself from the fallen advocate, the shriller and more strident the criticisms of both will get against the Uhuru administration.
However, this is far from saying that State Houseâ€™s loss is anyone elseâ€™s gain. Unlike John Miltonâ€™s Satan in the epic poem Paradise Lost, the Grand Mullah is unlikely to â€œlie low but mighty stillâ€. He will rediscover the virtues of just lying low.
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