Third Eye

Why Raila is best candidate for next year’s election

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 00:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga. Photo/File

Adhere Cavince       

There are few conversations in this country that attract as much debate like the place of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Kenya’s governance architecture. 

On one side are Kenyans who see him a Messiah figure whose democratic and public service credentials makes him the most qualified person for the highest office. On the other are those who live in perpetual fear of a Raila leadership.

Such polemics have once again emerged on the backdrop of the 2022 presidential election.

While the ODM leader has not formally declared his candidature, it is evident that his eyes are firmly fixed on the presidency.

Raila will be facing a number of candidates, chief among them Deputy President William Ruto.

Raila is already making forays in different parts of the country such as Central Kenya where decades of stereotypes and propaganda have created a false narrative that the Mountain is unresponsive to his presidential ambitions.

Raila is no angel. Like every human being, he has his shortcomings yet it would be unfair to deflect the very strong leadership credentials that sidetrack his public life. 

Kenya’s perilous political landscape demands a seasoned hand, capable of providing rational leadership in a way that unites the country while powering productive sectors.

The political reforms that have deeply impacted the country’s economy have been fashioned in a big way by the former Prime Minister. 

He led the clamour for governance changes that birthed the 2010 Constitution, a document that has now made it possible for some in government to abandon their duties without the risk of being sacked.

As a unifying factor, the ODM leader has built the most formidable, inclusive and successful political party in Kenya. 

Besides repeatedly giving up his personal ambitions as exemplified by the Kibaki Tosha call in 2002, Raila aligned himself with the interests of Kenyans after the 2017 election when he embraced his rival, President Uhuru Kenyatta through the handshake. 

Such magnanimity was also manifested when he agreed to share power with President Kibaki after the disputed 2007 presidential election.

In a globalising world, Kenya’s future depends very much on what transpires at the international scene as much as what is unfolding within.

Raila’s international profile, including being the African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure, has prepared him to lead Kenya at this time of continental reckoning with the rollout of the free trade area.

Some of his opponents argue that at 76, the ODM leader should give way to younger candidates. This argument ignores compelling precedents.

In the US, 78-year-old Joe Biden was sworn into office this year. In Zambia, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema won last month’s presidential vote after five failed attempts.

Raila did not spend his many years hunting and gathering in some unknown forest.

He spent nearly a decade in prison because of political activism and later gained invaluable experience in government affairs as he conceived and delivered policy driven development programmes with far reaching socioeconomic impact in the country.

Kenya is a new vehicle with a broken engine. No amount of painting will bring it back to life. Only a skillful engineer can resuscitate and foster a people centered governance system that is productive and sustainable.

No Kenyan should be constrained by propaganda and sloganeering to imagine a new country that is united, and prosperous – managed on the basis of rule of law and a greater good for all.

While every person has dreams; when a Chief dreams, it impacts the lives of all, so goes an adage.

The transformational impact of Raila’s dreams for Kenya are in public domain and should galvanise the final push to put him in State House in the 2022 election. — The writer is a scholar of international relations — @Cavinceworld

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