I first encountered Prof George Wajackoyah on a television talk show before Covid-19 rocked our world. He cut the picture of an erudite intellectual. In the exercise of his constitutional rights, Prof Wajackoyah recently announced he will gun for the presidency in the August elections.
While launching his presidential bid, he outlined his vision for Kenya, which includes severing ties with China after repaying our current debt, suspending the Constitution for six months, legalising bhang, reducing official working days from five to four, doing away with the blue police uniform, renaming existing administrative positions and choosing a person of Asian descent to run the Trade ministry.
A vision’s worth is not dependent on how it is framed, but rather, on how many people it will positively impact. What value, one may ask, accrues for Kenyans from such monochrome vision?
While latching onto the rosy, but utopian figures Wajackoyah bandied of a lucrative bhang business, it is easy to ask why Colombia and Jamaica, for instance, aren’t among the richest countries on earth courtesy of marijuana.
Kenyans deserve leaders with realistic and practical approaches to issues, not mere supposition.
A presidential candidate who regularly touches base with the indigent majority would have addressed issues like the need to strengthen institutions, bring down excessive taxation, soaring food prices, insecurity, a dysfunctional health system and an unequal education sector, all of which negatively impact millions of Kenyans simultaneously, leaving them in penury.
Unless the economy is improved in such a way that citizens can afford the basics of life and keep some change, all else is secondary.
To contemplate an official four-day working week alongside severing ties with China is whimsical; the starkest demonstration of detachment from global economic realities. At a time most countries are moving towards a 24-hour economy and longer working hours, Wajackoyah would rather Kenyans relaxed at home for three days.
China and the USA make up about 39 per cent of the global GDP. Any rush to sever ties with any of them is akin to applying simplistic solutions to complex problems. China is arguably the leading economic superpower to which even the mighty USA is indebted. As of December 2021, the USA owed China $1.1 trillion dollars.
The problem with the Kenya Police Service that has resulted in despondency lies not in the colour of the uniform, but in administrative oversights. Indeed, police officers were more disciplined when they used to put on khaki shorts.
Kenyans hold the Constitution inviolable. Any attempts to amend it, as the BBI initiative sought to do, is an invitation to war, yet here is one of Kenya’s best legal minds jovially saying he will suspend the Constitution. Where will he draw such power unless he intends to become the Kenyan version of Kim Jong-un?
Wajackoyah’s assertion that he will choose a person of Asian descent (a Chinese, perhaps?) to oversee the Trade ministry is an affront to Kenyans. Why would a person who has so little faith in his own people even think of becoming president? Does his partiality for foreigners also explain why he wants to take charge of the Immigration ministry?
Contenders should anchor promises in reality and what is doable. Seeking votes on a wave of populism and demagoguery is the surest way of prolonging the suffering of Kenyans, most of whom have been bowled over by joblessness and the ravaging effects of Covid-19