Uhuru mustn’t allow himself to become drunk with power

Uhuru mustn’t allow himself to become drunk with power

By Kabando wa Kabando 

Former fierce rivals, detractors, and enemies of President Uhuru now mischievously promote the false narrative that he can continue in office after 2022. None of them wants to speak truth to power. In my view, such busybodies are being clever to a fault. Through their allies, they are cunningly giving Uhuru false comforts that he can and should pursue that idea, or at least donate the “deep state” to them. It gets trickier for his deputy Dr William Ruto, who cannot make the mistake of being seen to wish his boss a speedy retirement. Uhuru wants part of that machinery to remain loyal to him. Ruto wants to inherit all of the so-called instruments of power. 

In 1976, Attorney General Njonjo criminalized any dream, contemplation, imagination, or planning of Jomo Kenyatta’s succession. Because of the capture of state instruments then, the real rivals to VP Moi were unfortunately grouped in a rather tribal camp. Yet their cacophonous fears were loudly vindicated in the era of errors that ensued — the economic decay and institutional collapses in the country in the 24 years of Moi’s reign. The man from Sacho had his highs, deservedly so, but to be fair to history, while he started well in 1978, by 1983, his reign was unjust, ruinous, and painful. He deteriorated state governance and his nyayos (footsteps) became elephant trampings, to paraphrase Ford’s Bamariz). The tragic stories of Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki were replicated in Robert Ouko and Alexander Muge and many more. 

Moi, in the words of Kipruto arap Kirwa, had beautiful attributes that were easily overwhelmed by his fears. In retrospect, if strong and conscious leaders stood out boldly earlier before the infamous mlolongo voting of 1988, Moi wouldn’t have become the notorious tyrant he was. But self interest prevailed and everyone hoped their peers or presumed competitors would fall by the wayside to allow them to win favour and flavour with Toroitich.

If more conscientious leaders had acted earlier, 1991 would have come earlier. And maybe Moi would have been moderated, to stay on a better course. To ‘fuata nyayo’, good souls became complicit in the era of misfortunes, hoping, like the proverbial hyena, as with the hyena, the hand would eventually fall off to give him a meal! Ultimately, the urafiki didn’t work. It was all premium tears as the Twitterati would say. 

I was present in 2003 when ‘Njamba’ Agwambo was humiliated at the historic Ruring’u stadium by two then arrogantly powerful new rainbow ministers. One, sadly, didn’t finish his term. The other one would later leave in ridicule, infamy, and ignominy, never to return. The bad manners of new power brokers who ignored the sober voices of the likes of Prof Wangari Maathai and Vice President Kijana Wamalwa caused the regrettable split, precipitating ugly fallouts into the 2005 referendum that was the last supper menu of bitter oranges and rotten bananas.

Almost all those who spoiled the Narc party are in doldrums, stalked by their weird shadows. They are gone and forgotten. The only nostalgia they carry is their ill-gotten loot, which robbed Kenyans can only hope they’re not enjoying in peace. 

As has been said and proved before, UhuRuto was a poisoned chalice, but a necessity in the face of the conspiracies of the day. It was an unholy but inevitable alliance. The alternative, the UhuRao bridge that some of us so passionately urged and so tirelessly promoted, has collapsed — or has it? — precisely because the merchants of impunity and looting simply exchanged batons; the relay goes on.

Instead of Tinga gaining traction amongst a restless Jubilee ‘concert’, he is deemed as a scavenger. The presumed villain, Ruto, has become a popular victim, and his popularity is rising. Victimhood is paying off. Meanwhile, other wannabes are on the hedge waiting to scramble for the political carcass consequent to the UhuRuto attrition and UhuRao inertia. But it just is never that straightforward. 

Singapore’s CEO Lee Hsien Loong is the son of founder legendary leader Lee Kuan Yew. Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore are often quoted as Kenya’s agemates economically speaking, as at the time of our independence in 1963. To be fair, and notwithstanding other independent assessments on his regime,  Jomo Kenyatta, with all his colossal failures, left a fairly prosperous young nation; we nosedived under Moi, even with his tangible successes.

How does Uhuru Compare with Hsien? 

Mwai Kibaki midwifed a transition, both generational political. Amiable,  politically tolerant, resilient, urbane and, most importantly, with a sound economic vision, he is still admired for the kind of economy he left behind. He crafted Vision 2030 and had a National Economic and Social Council that drew diverse expertise. Many may easily disagree, but I think Kibaki’s biggest miss was his failure to effectively unite a fractious country and end endemic corruption. Should we blame the mafia? Perhaps. But, to give credit where it is due, Kibaki exemplified modesty and decency in power. The 2007 electoral violence was a massive blot to an otherwise impeccable career. 

If I were Uhuru, I would dismiss with contempt the idea to hang on in power. Once his term is over, Uhuru should look forward to the same serenity and peace that his predecessor is enjoying in retirement. It wouldn’t be out of order if he elected to unify his government more ahead of 2022. If he did, the prevailing din and notoriety would probably calm. And then, with clear horizons insight, he should and must exit the stage while ensuring electoral justice is done.

The president must be very very careful about those in ‘his corner’ right now. He should even be more wary of the ‘support’ he is receiving from sycophants of his erstwhile political nemeses for they are sadistically leading him down the garden path. 

All said and done, the President is in an extremely unenviable space. In under 23 months, he is obligated to achieve, secure, and spur to greatness our republic. By all estimations, he is running late, but it is still practically possible for Uhuru to imbue inspiration, revive the economy and fortify the country. That ought to be a privilege of duty, but that is up to him.

We are in perilous times. Unless a masterful hand steers the rudder to bring the ship back on course,  doom lurks. One man has the instruments to save us from impending disaster. Shall he please rise to the occasion? 

— Write is a former Member of Parliament for Mukurweini Constituency

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