Accepting his role as the National Super Alliance’s (NASA) flag bearer at last week’s showpiece Uhuru Park event, Raila Odinga promised to lead Kenyans “to the promised land”.
In reality though, Raila promises to lead us back in time – to 2013 to be precise. NASA’s ‘big announcement’ was the very same Raila – Kalonzo ticket that the public rejected in 2013.
The very same faces, with the very same outlook, fuelled by the same self-interest. If this is the Promised Land, then it’s an outdated, redundant promise.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Raila were offering anything different from the promises of 2013, but he isn’t.
At last week’s rally, he made familiar vague pledges to create new jobs and lower the cost of living. But he has no policy, no concrete plan to make this happen. They are simply empty promises.
The only real detailed plan being offered by NASA is a drastic and entirely unnecessary overhaul of government. ALSO READ: No democracy in parties, candidates defend personal interests.
Under the proposed structure, five senior positions (President, Deputy President, Premier Cabinet Secretary and two Deputy Cabinet Secretaries) would satisfy five power-hungry NASA leaders.
This upheaval is merely an attempt to massage the egos within NASA’s Pentagon.
The same old faces want power, regardless of the unnecessary turmoil to public governance.
In other words, NASA’s plan is a return to the destructive factionalism which has historically plagued Kenyan politics.
But here’s the thing. It’s not 2013 any more. Kenya has moved on. In fact, the country has made huge strides during the past four years. Basic infrastructure is unrecognisable – 9,024km of highways have been paved since 2013.
The journey from Moyale to Nairobi, which used to take three days, now takes seven hours. Meanwhile, nearly 40 million Kenyans are online today, compared to just 12 million in 2013.
In the past four years, 2.3 million jobs were created, revolutionising countless lives. And on a macro level, GDP has continued to climb since 2013. This has encouraged a huge spike in foreign investment, which stood at just $400 million in 2014, reaching $1.9 billion just two years later.
And since 2013, access to healthcare has blossomed. 6.2 million people have received NHIF coverage in the past four years, while millions of mothers have been able to give birth in a safe hospital environment thanks to free maternal healthcare.
Unlike Raila’s unrealistic and manipulative promises, these are very real, tangible achievements. As a result, they have received international recognition and acclaim.
The World Bank has listed Kenya among Africa’s top economies and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently called the country a symbol of the continent’s progress.
In a further endorsement, the World Trade Organisation held its ministerial conference in Nairobi and we have become accustomed to official visits from global leaders, such as Barack Obama. Since 2013, Kenya has placed itself firmly on the international map.
But even though so much has changed for the better, for NASA, it still looks like 2013. The same individuals, the same rhetoric, the same barren pledges. They remain loyal to the politics of yesteryear.
Today is not about making deals merely to secure electoral support. Today is not about power for the sake of power. Today is about moving forward as one nation. Today is about implementing well-conceived initiatives which improve the quality of life for our citizens. Today is about using power to build a better future for all Kenyans.
With the announcement of NASA’s flag bearer, it is clear that Kenyans face a stark choice. Raila represents a regression, back to 2013 and beyond – A journey back to the dark days of destructive egotism and factionalism.
Uhuru represents the reality of steady progress during the past four years, a period which has seen Kenya more prosperous, better connected and more prominent on the global stage than perhaps ever before.
It is a choice between the old and the new. It seems like a fairly simple choice to make.