By Aden Duale
To understand NASA’s presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, one needs to be immersed fully in the rich English idioms and metaphors. The English saying that “You cannot teach an old dog a new trick,” isn’t a cliché. It clearly captures the conundrum Raila is facing in his final quest to rule Kenya.
At the anticlimactic unveiling of Raila as NASA’s presidential candidate, two declarations took the gold medal. The first one was made by Moses Wetangula, the ethically-riddled but loquacious Bungoma Senator, who colourfully described NASA’s “promised land” as inhabited by the carcass of a single cow, which the Nasa Pentagon members had “already divided up” with “the hind legs, fore legs, hump, ribs and tail” having been grabbed by Raila, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Wetangu’la himself and Isaac Rutto, in that order.
The second prize went to Raila’s announcement that “NASA plans to pick its Cabinet team from MPs,” as reported in the headline story in The Star newspaper of May 15, 2015. The NASA team repeated this at their rally at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on May 14th. They promised to hold a national referendum within 100 days of taking power.
This declaration exposes NASA’s reckless disregard for the best interests of the country. It implies that they are ready to plunge the country into turmoil in pursuit of their narrow selfish interests. NASA’s referendum threat will bring another cycle of political wrangling, volatile campaigns and waste tens of billions of tax payers’ money within 100 days after August 8th during a precarious period when the country is facing food shortages, high commodity prices and hyperinflation.
But Raila’s threat wasn’t as surprising as it might seem to many unobservant people on the first blush.
“We are simply rekindling the demand for the parliamentary system that has always been there in the agenda of the Second Liberation. It had been achieved in the Bomas Draft Constitution, but was mutilated in Kilifi before the referendum of 2005. It was smuggled out of the 2010 draft through the Naivasha ‘deal’ and we had to accept the fait accompli,” said Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, during the Nakuru rally.
Prof. Nyong’o, was, of course, being economical with the truth. In his tome, Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya, Raila’s former senior adviser on coalition affairs – and a man who helped craft the new constitution – Miguna Miguna, has credibly documented an incident at the Harambee House during the constitution negation process when Raila – not retired President Mwai Kibaki or his sidekicks – proposed the pure president system we now have.
Miguna recounts that Raila did so, not because of any resistance from Kibaki or his men, but in order to inherit imperial presidential powers, which he had hoped he would get after winning the last election. In other words, by 2010, Raila had long abandoned the parliamentary system. He had also conveniently forgotten and discarded the Bomas Draft. Then ensconced in the Prime Minister’s Office, with all the newly acquired trappings of power, Raila and Anyang’ Nyong’o showed no interest on the glorified “gains” in the Bomas Draft. The allure of the imperial presidential powers were so strong and addictive that the ODM brigade in Naivasha, which was bigger and stronger than Kibaki’s PNU team, quickly rubber stamped all the purported water-down provisions in the current constitution.
Raila subsequently led the “Green Team” campaigns that resulted in the enactment of the constitution that he has now declared war on.
The point here is that whereas it wasn’t the first, second or third time in the past four years since Raila lost the 2013 election to President Uhuru Kenyatta that the former premier was calling for a referendum to change the constitution he had campaigned for, the “reasons” he and his new team of hypocrites have advanced are dishonest.
I can bet ODM’s Orange House that if Raila were to win this year’s elections, one can guarantee that he would breach his nebulous agreement with the five NASA musketeers quicker than Kibaki had trashed the unpublished MoU with him following the 2002 NARC ‘revolution.’ All Raila wants is pure and unadulterated imperial presidential powers with which to lord it over others and as a conduit to get richer.
NASA’s “Change the Constitution” war cry isn’t original, either. Once upon a time, in early 1970s, Kenyans experienced the retrogressive and chauvinistic “Change the Constitution” movement, whose primary agenda was to scuttle retired President Daniel arap Moi’s chances of succeeding Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta. The anti-Moi Change the Constitution Movement was spearheaded by the so-called Kiambu Mafia, comprising the late Kihika Kimani, Njenga Karume and Dr. Njoroge Mungai.
Just like the anti-Moi movement was defeated by patriotic Kenyans who felt that stopping Moi, a Kalenjin, from succeeding Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, merely on account of ethnicity, could have plunged the country into a conflagration of bloodletting; so will brave Kenyans defeat the Raila-led Change the Constitution Movement, which is premised on one man’s greed for power.
However, Raila faces his Waterloo on August 8th – one hundred days before his threatened referendum. Kenya cannot be placed in perpetual conflict and turmoil by one man’s quest for power.