By Viscount Francis K’Owuor,
December 9, 2017
Unknown to many Kenyans, opposition leader Raila Odinga is not in an enviable position. The character and quality he has built over time as an all-powerful leader continues to place a huge burden on him. Instead of building effective structures and reliable systems around him, Raila has been the system himself. And since all humans have frailties, system Raila has not been without some gaffes, but that is beside the point. At the root of the swearing-in affair is the fact that whatever decision he makes, he is damned.
Following Senator James Orengo’s in/famous proclamations of ‘wakiapisha, tunaapisha’, National Super Alliance supporters were made to believe that a parallel ceremony would be held on the 28th of November when President Uhuru Kenyatta was being sworn in. That didn’t materialize, with reports saying that Raila was after all opposed to the scheme, arguing that doing so would dent his image at the International Community. This got his supporters writhing in anger and disappointment. Unconfirmed reports indicate that some youths from Kisumu had even conspired to attack his Opoda home if he developed cold feet over the swearing-in matter.
Perhaps on reading the mood, Raila made an about-turn and told his apprehensive supporters that he was not a coward, and his swearing-in would happen on the 12th of December, which is just a few days away. Any keen observer who has been following Raila since 2013 can predict the outcome of the December 12 event and the answer is that nothing that is politically groundbreaking will transpire. Firstly, government takeover date is never announced. Secondly, the affair needs complex, elaborate and technical plans which Raila does not have the capacity or the will to accomplish. Swearing in is just an event which can be meaningless unless it is followed up by a process of enforcement.
The state by its nature has two main domains: that of making decisions concerning territorial control and management, and the enforcement of such decisions, both which are affected by its monopoly over force. For Raila swearing-in ceremony to be meaningful, he must be able to wholly or partly hijack from the State the two domains, and to do so would need a standing army. This can be corroborated by the Alassane Dramane Ouattara affair in Ivory Coast in 2010, Adama Barrow affair in Gambia in 2016 and the most recent one of Emmerson Mnangagwa that brought to a sudden and unexpected halt of Robert Mugabe’s hegemony.
In all the three cases, change of regimes was affected by leaders who had International backing and support from the army. Raila Odinga unfortunately, or fortunately, does not have either. The United States of America has since told him to shelve his plans. Interestingly, a few weeks back, Raila made a triumphant entry into the country after a trip to America to rally International support. Seemingly, it was an ego trip.
Political advisers around President Uhuru need to analyze all these issues and much more, and react proactively to Raila’s plans. A wrong decision by Jubilee will give relevance to an event that is best dismissed as a product of the cravings of a frustrated soul. Don’t they see that Raila has to please his supporters?
Let him have his day. He will be sworn in as the ‘People’s President’, which has been his title anyway, and in the evening his supporters will troupe back home with swollen pride, and nothing more. Innocent lives must not be lost again because of Jubilee’s reactive tendencies.